Summary: Percy is crumbling under a severe case of PTSD after getting kidnapped and tortured for information after the war. And Annabeth struggles to keep him from self-destructing. No OCs.
"They say they don't know when, but a day is gonna come. When there won't be a moon and there won't be a sun. It will just go black. It will just go back to the way it was before."
- Conor Oberst
Chapter One: Extricated
Time has no meaning.
Percy has officially realized this.
Humans invest so much into it. They follow the hours, the minutes, the seconds, religiously. They adhere to their appointments; rely on the throbbing tick-tock of a clock to tell them that their life is moving. They trust that time will always keep going, that one hour will follow the other, and that tomorrow will follow today, that next week will follow this one. And they would fall apart without it. Consistency makes humans productive and keeps them sane.
They rely that this day will pass, and have hope that the next might be better. Hope is the mainstay. Time is the enemy.
And they refuse to believe, or even think of, the idea that possibly, time does not exist. What if time is simply a delusion that humans have created in an attempt to categorize, and make sense of something far beyond them? What if it's all a lie? Is everything people have created an illusion? Time doesn't exist. It's a scapegoat. A lie. An escape, a guidance. Does it exist?
Percy doesn't know.
Time has no meaning.
Seconds pass, minutes fall away, and hours sink into the rushed work of the day. Years gather on the human body, slowly breaking it down, forcing weariness and pain on the old.
Time has no meaning. Time is evil.
Then again, maybe it isn't evil. Maybe it's quite relatable to death. The world wouldn't turn without it. Time is a cycle. It remains neutral. It makes you, and then it proceeds to destroy you. And it does so slowly, which is where the resentment lies. It's the painful, crawling pace that tears humans apart. Time delivers humans to their death. They don't know when time will simple… stop.
Death and time are close friends. They exist within each other. They are one another.
Humans grow, age, and then die. And sometimes, time slices off in the middle, abruptly ending everything.
Time spreads the gasoline over the bones and death lights the match.
And in this, Percy finds hatred. He has never been a hateful person. He's been angry with people. He's been betrayed; he's been threatened. People, monsters, and gods alike have attempted to kill him. But he hasn't found hatred. He leaves it behind him. Percy pushes it to the back of his mind, because this whole thing was all misguided beliefs. And one, truly evil being stood behind it all. So people have been manipulated, but that doesn't form any foundations for hatred. He was taught to put it behind him. Not forgive and forget; put it behind you and don't think about it. Don't hate. Hate will kill you. Hate will be your end.
Percy has found hatred.
He hates something now. Another strong belief he once had has been abandoned, crushed under the weight of his imprisonment.
He had always assumed hatred was something that was like anger, hot, and explosive; something that refused to calm.
It's no surprise, he's wrong again. Hatred and anger are very similar, but they are different. They are different.
Hatred is threaded deep within his bones, throbbing and pounding throughout his being. The gravity of it is astounding. It's all he feels. It weighs him down, so heavily, he feels glued to the cement floor. Hatred isn't sporadic and random. It burns. It burns around his heart. It blisters everything that still remains. His heart, so aching and stressed as it is, feels crushed under this new burden. It's all, and everything, he thinks about.
Hatred is this cold, burning, passion.
And he knows when he's been consumed, because it reverberates through his skull, through his soul.
Percy knows, that if he was able, if he was awake, he would murder his captor. He would take Riptide and he would stab him in the chest over, and over, and over, and over. Until all he can see are holes. Until he can watch red blood spill on the floor. All of it. He wants to watch his captor's heart stutter and refuse to start again. He wants to see that face look at him in fear; the same fear he's felt for so long. He wants to kill him.
He wants to eliminate a life. He wants to take his thumb and crush it under his will, smother it, and watch it die.
And that's when he knows he's reached his end.
It's a funny thing—life-changing realizations. They occur slowly yet quickly all at the same time. It dawns on you like the sun; except it isn't warm, it's freezing.
The cold settled over him slowly. It started by his feet, drenching his body as it worked its way up to his brain.
Percy Jackson wants to die.
He wants to stop existing.
Percy wants to float away. Scatter in the wind. Die.
Hope has stopped trying to fuel him. It sputtered out. He had kept it alive for too long, desperately trying to keep the light visible, but it faded. It disappeared along with his humanity.
Thinking of it, Percy hasn't seen light in a long time. Everything is dark. Black as the night.
He hasn't moved in so long.
They keep him unconscious now. He used to be awake. He used to fight. He can still feel, though. Every feeling, every inch of guilt that crawls on his skin, he can feel. Guilt is consistent. It never leaves.
Percy is aging. At least, he thinks he's aging. His skin is stretched tightly over fragile bones, hot and dry with an endless fever. He hasn't opened his eyes in a long time. He can tell because they feel crusty, twitching from disuse. It relates well with his seclusion from light.
It's hard to catalogue his injuries. Being in a constant state of limbo skewers the mind. He can't process pain anymore. It still exists; it throbs like nothing he's ever felt before, just hiding beneath a drugged surface. He is far too gone to be able to handle it.
Occasionally he'll rise from his slumber, pulled towards reality when the poison he's being administered starts to wear off. For a second he faces clarity, and then the pain attacks him within moments and he's reduced to a whimpering, mumbling, mess on the floor. Then he'll feel a boot nudge his side, kicking to make sure he's still alive, and a sharp stab is in his arm, and it all fades into dizzying circles.
He wonders if he's being fed. Food has become trivial now. His stomach is an empty hole. All he knows is that his mouth his dreadfully dry and hot, and his lips burn from being cracked and chapped. But those pains are small compared to the others. They are incredibly small.
Bones are broken, he can feel that much. He still bleeds. He can smell it. Blood smells like rust. It sits in a humid fog around his nose, blood; it's all he smells. He can feel under his swollen fingertips, some sticky, some new. It makes it hard to breathe. His lungs are tired. They stutter and struggle for air that is stale and old.
Percy is tired. He just wants it all to end. He wants to forget what he used to have. The memories aren't as strong as they used to be. He doesn't crave it as much anymore. Drugs have scattered them like leaves in the wind. Blonde hair, glints of silver, and grey eyes still flash through his mind, striking a sharp pang of longing through his heart.
He isn't going to survive. He used to dream of his old life. His future. He has no future anymore. Now, he dreams of death. He wants to find that last thread of energy, kill him, and then die. That is all he dreams of. He wants his suffering to end. He didn't think he deserved for this to happen. He tried so hard to end the war. And he had. Hadn't he sacrificed enough?
Why wasn't anyone coming for him?
Why didn't anyone care?
And that's what signs the contract; the fact that no one has even bothered to try and save him. Nothing. No one.
No one cares.
He's alone. They forgot about him. He was too much trouble try and rescue. No one wanted to take that risk. He thought he was worth more than that.
Where was his father?
Hadn't anyone tried to rescue him?
Why wouldn't they at least try?
No one cares.
They are leaving him to die. Alone. They are going to let him waste away and die. It's not betrayal anymore. Sometimes he doesn't even blame them. He killed people. He was the one who led them into that war. He was the one who led them to their deaths. He was the murderer.
He killed people.
That's why they don't care; he was a murderer already.
Who wants to save a killer?
He killed his friends. Who does that? What kind of evil person does that?
He smiled at them and they smiled back, and then he killed them.
There are so many: Beckendorf, Selena, Luke, and countless others that he inadvertently destructed.
He's evil. It's blatantly obvious now.
Percy wants to die.
He just wants the guilt to end. He wants it all to end.
If he could feel the skin on his face; he'd feel the hot trail that was sliding down from his eyes.
Percy never cried. Crying is pathetic. He never cried once during the war. He never had the time. And he had had hope. Hope for survival. Hope that there was a happy ending in sight. Light.
Hope has disappeared.
More tears trickle down his temples. A lump builds in his throat. An empty sob reverberates through the room. He's dying.
They have won. He's been broken.
Percy Jackson has shattered into a million pieces.
And no one cares.
Something changed. The atmosphere has been electrified. It smells metallic. That's all Percy can go off anymore, his other senses are lost. But it's different. The air crackles with energy. It's almost refreshing to a point. It's weird; he hasn't felt something nice in what feels like a very long time.
He hears screaming. The energy is dusting off his eardrums, pulling them from the haze. There are strangled yells coming from the hallway. Heavy footsteps fleeing the building, running away. A cracking noise echoes into his room, and then a strangled cry.
He doesn't know what's going on. Are they leaving him?
Is he going to die alone?
Are they finally going to make it all end?
Percy tries to move, but he's still heavy. He still feels like he's going to sink through the floor. There is shouting, an argument; someone is begging for their life. A loud, angry voice reverberates through the building, shaking it to its foundations, and then the begging is abruptly cut off. If his pulse was still able to heighten, Percy thought it would right now.
Then the footsteps are walking away. They are unnaturally heavy, pounding. His hope is leaving. That tiny flame that he thought was dark, has been lit again. But it's dying now. It hurts more than ever. He throbs.
Tears burn in his eyes. They slide down by his temples.
There is a rushing sound. Wind. And then he senses another presence. Someone powerful is near. He hears shoes thudding against the floor. The door is rattled, shaken hard, and then the voice swears in Ancient Greek.
Percy recognizes that word, that voice. He's heard it before. It's hard to recall the memory; it feels like a very long time ago. It's clouded with a fog. But he knows it.
He can hear someone else breathing. The air crackles again. Someone is standing over him, he can sense it.
They intake sharply. "Oh gods." The voice is trembling. A noise that was a cross between a sigh and a whimper echoes through Percy's ears.
He knows that voice. He's heard it before. It's friendly, soft. Percy can feel the person get closer; he can tell that they have crouched in front of him. It's weird having such close contact with another person after so long. He soaks up the presence, because even if they want to hurt him, it still means he's not alone. He hates being alone so much. He would rather die with someone he hated, then die by himself.
A hand prods at his neck, pressing against his artery. The pressure makes him feel the blood that still weakly pumps. The fingers linger, and a sigh of relief drifts through the stale air.
Are they going to save him?
"Percy. Dear child," the being breathes; the voice sounds horrified. It sounds like pity. Pity means people cared. Didn't it? It meant someone cared. It had to. They had to care.
Who was it?
Power. He can taste it in the air. Normal humans didn't radiate this much power. It wasn't one of his friends. It was someone bigger.
He struggles to open his eyes, but only pain strikes him. He whimpers, and his throat rebels and he starts coughing. His lips feel wet. They taste like blood. They smell like it, too.
"It's okay, Percy." The voice soothes, the tone is gruff, angry. "It's okay. We're leaving. I'm rescuing you from here. It's over."
Over. He wants it to be over so much.
Freedom. Percy's heart jumpstarts in his chest and he breaths sharply, straining to lift his hand and touch his savior. Someone wants to help him. Unknowingly, tears have started falling again, but these are different. These are tears of relief. Pain lances through his head and he winces, screwing his face together.
"Shh, shh. It's okay. We're leaving." The voice sounds soothing.
Then an arm is threading beneath his shoulders, pulling him up from the cement. Adrenaline rushes through his system and Percy weakly paws at the being, whimpering and coughing in pain. "Quiet. I'm helping you." Percy silences. He struggles to open his eyes, and sore lids flutter open. Everything is blurry and distorted. He can make out the gray rock of his cage, and tan skin in front of his face. His head lolls and then is caught by a shoulder. "This is going to hurt," the voice warns.
Another arm goes under his knees, and then his swiftly lifted into the air. Percy hears a distinct crack, and cries out, pushing his head into the person's neck. White hot pain is throbbing from his midsection and tears fall down his face. The cotton under his cheek is salty and wet. Pure agony is everywhere. It's all he feels. It never ends. Why can't it end? He never tried to do anything wrong. The pain never went away. Yet another pitiful sob escapes from his lips.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry," the voice rambles, sounding helpless, despite the powerful aura. "Apollo will heal you. I promise. This is all over." Percy struggles to breathe. "Percy, I promise. I'm getting you out of here."
Apollo; he knows that name. Who is it? Why can't he think? Everything is fuzzy.
His head is aching and everything is turning violently. He's confused and tired. Every breath sends shards of glass through his lungs. The arms readjust him and he is pulled tighter against his rescuer's chest. Percy's left hand flops weakly and catches on a piece of fabric, a pocket. He holds it in his fingers.
Pain is making him shiver, and he moans in a tearless sob and shifts towards the being, as if he can hide from everything; as if the person wants to help him. They sound nice. But then, so had his captors. They had sounded nice, too. And look what they did.
He can't breathe.
Everything hurts. He whimpers again and sucks in a ragged breath. More hot tears. He's pathetic.
"I'm sorry, Percy. I will put you to sleep. When you'll wake up it'll be better. It'll all be better. I promise, Percy."
Percy's vocal chords haven't been used in a long time, but he manages to talk.
"-ait." he rasps. He even has to strain to hear it.
The voice gets louder, rushed. "Percy? What is it? What am I waiting for? What's wrong?"
His energy is draining fast. "-who're you?" he slurs pathetically. Warmth is slowly seeping through his bones. He suspects it's the work of something else. Warmth is something new. He's been cold for so long.
"Hermes. Now sleep, you're safe."
He knows that name; it matches the voice. He can't figure it out, but they're offering him safety.
And if Percy wasn't about to pass out, he'd almost laugh. He hasn't felt safety in what feels like years. Safety was a foreign word, but it sounds nice. It sounds like something he should like.
Percy sinks against the warm chest, melting. A soft breath tumbles from his lips. There's no pain. He's blissfully free. Hermes didn't even want to hurt him. He was taking him away. Anywhere but here was okay.
So he slides right into unconsciousness without so much as a second thought.
Black floods him, and Percy lets go.