Title: Ghosts

Characters/pairing: General/Percabeth references

Warning/spoilers: Post-TLO

Song choice: Wrapped In Piano Strings - Radical Face

Summary: "You think the dead we love ever truly leave us?'

Dedication: For the girl who lies broken in hospital, and fights on. If words could heal you, I'd write a thousand more. Our thoughts are with you.

i watched you crawl into my bed,
with curses {spilling} from your head
you said we're just the walking dead,
so I pulled the trigger and we [floated] off.

She follows him as he paces angrily between the mountains.

She can hear his mutterings from a few feet away. The weather blows past her, as usual, but his open aviator's jacket flaps in the heavy gale and she hears him curse it, loudly, as he tries bats the lapels away from his face.

Language, Nico.

He doesn't hear, of course, so he adds an extra for fuck's sake and damn fucking coat for good measure.

She winces.

He stops abruptly. He turns to kick a miniature figurine into a weighty pile of scrap metal with venom – the sharp clanging is loud and shrill. She catches a glimpse of his face. Older, now. Wiser. Worn. Darkness, always. Always darkness.

His eyes scan the scene, passing her by. Her heart leaps as he looks at her, straight at her, but he sees nothing and she really should know better. A moment of stillness befalls them, and all she can do is look at him. She feasts on his features, trying to memorize every curve, every indentation in her brother's young face. It's not enough.

And then, as usual, he glances down at the floor with shame and guilt shining in the tears in his dark eyes, and makes towards the metal mountain. He begins to climb.

He slips, once, and she calls out for him to be careful, for goodness' sake.

The figurine is clutched in his palm within minutes, as usual. He stuffs it back in his pocket, towering over her at the summit of the scrap pile, and looks over the scene with the same strange expression on his face. And he whispers to the world –

I miss you.

- and waits.

She blinks back tears. She calls out to her little lost brother, stood alone in this tiny corner of the world full of sadness and regret and broken dreams. He doesn't hear. He can't hear, and it breaks her heart.

{and Bianca wishes that, for once, he'd hear her cries and know, and understand}

He sits beside her as she cries.

Don't, he says, please don't –

She does, and it breaks his heart. Tears splash down upon the sand.

Her fingers trace the scythe about her neck with familiar caution, and he knows what she's thinking. The guilt ages her beautiful features by a thousand years, hanging at her cheekbones, dark circles ringing her watery eyes. He reaches for her, craving the warmth of her skin for some sort of release; his hand, silent as sin, turns to a whispery mist as it traces the soft curve of her jaw.

I don't blame you, y'know.

"I'm sorry," she says. And she says it again, over and over, chanting it to herself – and each time, her voice becomes shakier and shakier, until it finally cracks and she buries her face in her sleeves.

He leans closer. He can hear every tiny breath in minute, infinite detail. I'll wait for you.

{She cries a thousand tears for the boy sat right beside her, and the ache in Beckendorf's chest throbs painfully}

i [sank] into the sea,
wrapped in piano strings,
few words could {open} me,
but you knew them all.

The presence of the four boys almost brings her out in an immortal rash.

They amble home slowly and laboriously, with their school-bags thrown haphazardly over one shoulder as they make their way through the winding streets of Manhattan from the steps of Goode High School. She follows, within earshot but a little way behind. Old habits. Boys should be kept at arm's length.

"I'd go with Hendrix."

Some scoffing. The blond boy pulls a face. "Hendrix? What'd be the point?" he demands. "You'd be so high you wouldn't even remember being Hendrix."

"That's my point!" The freckled boy looks at the others in earnest. "You'd get the high without the low! If you only get to be him for a day, you get to really live. But you don't have to deal with the comedown. That's heaven, man."

"Who's the one who's married to Megan Fox?" The boy on the furthest right, with dark skin and braids, grins at his companions, who laugh darkly in agreement.

"What about you, Jackson?" The long-haired youth glances at the boy nearest the road. "One day. Anyone at all. Choose wisely."

She watches closely as his brow furrows in thought.

"Someone old-school," he decides. "Like a hero or something."

"Why be a hero?" The freckled boy pulls a face. "I'd be a god!"

"You'd look great in a toga."

"Oh, ha-ha."

The boy with the braids looks thoughtful. "Y'know, he's got a point," he says. She narrows her eyes. "Those heroes got a pretty sweet deal, if you ask me. The glory, the girls... Bet Hercules never had to deal with Richards' surprise calculus pop quiz."

"Not Hercules."

The others glance curiously over at the boy now attempting to balance precariously on the edge of the sidewalk.

"What's wrong with Hercules?"

There's a pause.

"I..." The boy looks up, suddenly very aware that his classmates' eyes are fixed upon him. He coughs once. "He just seems like a bit of a douche-bag, that's all."

He gets a couple of weird looks, but they let it go and move on to talk about more pressing matters, such as the fact that Brandon Flowers is going solo (thy name is most peculiar, Mr Flowers, she thinks) and the Mets are doing pretty darn well this season.

{Zoe Nightshade isn't quite sure what a douche-bag is, but she understands the sentiment and beams at the boy with the sea-green eyes}

The task is simple enough – trap monster, bring back monster, cook monster, eat monster. Sounds manageable, he thinks. He glances over at his brother, and he knows exactly what he's thinking – he's wondering if giving the monster concussion will slow it long enough to drive a knife through its neck.

Chiron orders them to split into pairs.

It's a fairly predictable affair. Percy with Annabeth. Connor with Travis. Katie Gardner with Will Solace, which gets a wolf-whistle or three; Clarisse grabs Malcolm and thrusts an axe in his hands, which he promptly drops. The campers divide themselves easily, and soon they're all stood in twos, talking battle strategy and fixing armour.

Except one.

"Is anyone without a partner?" Chiron looks around at them all – no interruption comes, and so moves to give them all a bracing smile. "Excellent! Now, if you are all quite ready and suitably equipped – it gives me great pleasure to –"

One hand is slowly raised.

"Pollux, my boy?"

His brother winces, blushing a fiery scarlet and scuffing his sneaker sheepishly along the ground. "I don't have... Castor..." His voice trails off.

They all glance away uneasily.

Chiron clears his throat, clapping his hands jovially together. "Is anyone willing to have Pollux join their ranks?"

There's a moment's hesitation before Percy nods silently, and beckons Pollux over to join him. He watches Pollux move to stand nervously at the side of the duo – his rounded face is solemn, pain raw in his glassy eyes. It's a square-one situation. It always is.

{Castor runs alongside him in battle, and cheers loudest of all when his brother's knife slices clean through the giant's neck, his face burning with unseen pride}

He's seen a thousand of her nightmares.

The muffled sound of her gasps and groans breaks the spotless silence. She twists and turns, over and over again, never remaining in one position for more than a minute or so; her face is perfectly, perfectly pained. Blond hair tumbles loose from her braid – wild and dishevelled, it splays out across the scattered array of blankets and pillows about the bed.

Percy, she whispers.

He sighs.

He amuses himself with the idea that she's able to see him. He imagines her waking in shuddery tears and spying his figure, sat on the floor of her bedroom with his head resting in easy nonchalance against her bedside cabinet; the horror, the outrage, the sheer disbelief etched onto her beautiful features – he grins.

Percy, she murmurs again, and the smile slides quickly from his face.

She doesn't whisper his name anymore. He misses that.

It's getting worse. She tenses and suddenly cries out in pain. He watches, unmoved, his eyes fixed intently to her. What is she dreaming about, he wonders?

She thrashes out, arms and limbs flailing as if in spasm, snatching at her sleep as if her knife were to suddenly appear in her hand. Over and over she shakes her head, trying to fight off some invisible monster stood towering over the length of the bed.

A scream that makes him jump, and she's thrown violently forwards with a sharp jerk.

He moves towards the bed, clambering up on stiff limbs to go to her – but he hears footsteps racing for the door, and knows it's too late, far too late.

His arms are soon around her, with one hand in her ragged curls guiding her to him as she breaks out into heartbroken sobs that echo around him.

He's stood, frozen, watching a world he longs to be a part of once more.

{Luke Castellan would sell his soul to the devil for it, were his soul not the only thing he's got left – and he wants so desperately to cry and start again, and pretend it never happened}

now I just sleep beneath your [floor]
ghost just tries to keep you warm,
I've seen the {end} I've lost the
{one day you'll join me here just like the rest}

A/N ~ completed for Bookaholic711's writing challenge Project PULL. visit her profile for more information.