Dark Percy - Evolution
Percy, after Gaea, still has nightmares every nights about tartarus, and wakes up in cold sweat every night. He could talk to Annabeth about it, or to Jason, or to- to anyone, really. He would, if it wasn’t for this tiny, treacherous voice that somehow is always there in his mind, whispering that no one can help. No one is willing to. No one cares.
Jason told him ‘I think I get it.’ and said no more. Leo - well, Leo isn’t there, is he, but he wouldn’t be right for that conversation. Frank wouldn’t be the right person to talk about it with, either, and nor would any others. And Nico avoids him like the plague since his declaration, and truthfully Percy knows he will have to talk to him about it, but like always that voice tells him it will be useless. No one listens to him, not really.
Annabeth, the only one he could talk to, doesn’t want to talk about this. The last time he tried to broach the subject, she said “Don’t.” and that was the last of it. She has nightmares too, but when he wakes her up, and lets her cry in his arms, shuddering, trembling, he can’t help but wonder if she’s remembering the monsters - or him.
Sometimes, he wonders if he is one of the monsters in her nightmares.
Of course, once she stops breathing too hard, once she stops being that lost girl that has seen too much, once she stops confusing nightmare and reality - once she stops flinching when she sees his faces cast in shadows… Once she stops, and regains some of her bearing, she doesn’t talk about it.
“I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to relive…” she trails off, eyes distant, then she smiles, a thin, forced little smile. “It’ll get better.”
And she starts talking about their plans, about graduation, and college in Camp Jupiter. She talks about the future, about her dreams, about architecture, and Percy listens and smiles, and nods. And inside of him, deep down, that treacherous voice wonders how she can talk about the future - how she can even think about it, when he’s still trapped in the past. When his own future seems blurry and dark and poisonous.
No, Annabeth doesn’t want to talk about her nightmares, and tartarus. At least with him. They think he’s unobservant. They all have always underestimated him, thought him oblivious - but he knows. He sees the way Hazel, and Piper, look at him sometimes. He has heard the hushed whispers, one evening when he went to see Annabeth and found her with the others. She talks to them.
She’s scared of him.
To be fair, he scares himself too, but the realization that no one is willing to help him like he tries to help them so often, leaves a sour taste in his mouth, like poison, like firewater. It makes the glass pieces inside him sharper, and nothing Annabeth can say or do seems to soften them again.
He starts to get headaches. Migraines.
At first, he thinks it’s the lack of sleep. Too many nightmares. Too many things he’d like to say. Too many thoughts in his head. Too much that doesn’t go away and that he doesn’t know how to control.
So after some time spent with a killer headache and the feeling he will never sleep again, he decides to go where he always felt best - in the water. One night, he simply has had enough, and jumps into the sea, goes underwater, and lets the waves comfort him, soothe him.
That’s when he realizes that he’s hyper-aware. He can feel the water around him more astutely than ever. He can feel the ground, too, in a different, more muted manner. He always could, but for some reason, now he is more sensitive. He feels like a sonar that no one thought to disconnect. But the water is soothing, and it overloads him in a good way.
He always feared drowning, but as he falls asleep at the bottom of the ocean, he wonders if it wouldn’t be the most peaceful way to go. The best option, really.
The next morning, when he gets out of the water, he hasn’t drowned. He also is still hyper-aware, but now he gets why. He can sense every water drop, every fluid everywhere. The moisture in the air, the water in the plants, his own blood thrumming in his veins. In a daze, he wanders into camp - and there he stops dead the first time he crosses path with someone, because he can feel their own blood thrumming in their veins too. And not only that, but every fluid in their body.
It’s terrible, and wrong and- and yet, he can’t help but feel fascinated. So much power, just as the tip of his fingers. He could just extend his will, the way he never dares to, and he could control everything. He could bend the grass. He could bend people… The glass shards inside of him rattle, and something twists in his gut. He looks down, horrified with himself for even thinking about it.
It will pass, he thinks as he sits down and takes a soda. It will go away.
But it doesn’t. It doesn’t - it actually becomes worse. Every water molecule, every fluid, he can sense. He can control. After a week of restraining himself, he waves a hand over a patch of grass, and watches in amazement as the grass follows. Then he doesn’t move at all, and still the grass twists like he wants it to. It bends, and twists, and with just a twitch of his finger, grass strands are ripped off the earth, turned to shreds, controlled by the water inside them.
Percy wonders if he could do the same to a monster - rip their limbs off, rip their heads. Make them last. Make them suffer.
The thought is so strong, so surprisingly exhilarating and exciting that it shocks Percy out of it. Whatever it was. He vows to himself to never stray down that path - Annabeth’s voice comes to him, telling him that some things aren’t meant to be controlled.
It’s easier said than done. Now that he knows, he has to make the conscious effort to take his soda by hand every morning, instead of just summoning it to him using the fluids. He has to make sure that some of his most violent urges stay that way - urges, that he doesn’t act upon. It’s hard, though. It could be so easy to make Clarisse shut up, simply make those little veins, and the moisture in her skin, go that way, and her mouth would be shut. Hell, with a little pressure there, she would choke on her own saliva.
That night, just like every night that week, Percy goes to sleep in the sea. Being surrounded by water calms his nerves, calms his senses, mutes down everything.
For the next week, again, Percy tries his best, but it becomes unbearable. He has to try. And he’s terrified that he will give in to that urge - that he will hurt someone. He’s terrified that one day he will act by accident, a reflex that will send his friends against the wall like flies against a windshield. He’s terrified that he will hurt someone, but at the same time there is still this urge, primal and feral, to use his powers to their fullest extent. To slaughter monsters.
Two days later, Sally Jackson opens her door to find her son there. Of course, the first thing she does is telling him off for disappearing, for risking his life again, for not coming to visit sooner - then she notices the bags under his eyes, the twitch in his fingers, the way his sea-green eyes dart around, focusing on things she cannot see. She bites her lip.
“You look terrible,” she says. “Will you ever stop fighting ?”
Percy wants to laugh at that, but refrains - it would come out bitter, jagged, too sharp and dark, and she might look at him like Annabeth looks at him those days. He will never stop fighting, he knows. There is fire in his blood, destruction in his name, disasters in his inheritance. The sea can never be tamed, can never settle down. He doesn’t tell her this, because he doesn’t want her disapointed - and maybe, she knows after all. Instead, he smiles, something not quite warm and not quite large enough, and a bit crooked but still. He smiles, and says.
“For now,” he says. He hesitates, then. “Can I stay here for some time ? I need-” space, time, isolation, love, an anchor, “-some holidays.”
“Oh,” Sally looks surprised for a moment, then very pleased. She smiles softly at him. “Of course you can stay, Percy. This is your home too.”
Home. Percy lets her draw him into a hug, and tentatively hugs her back - though his fingers still twitch, and he can feel her heart, and her blood so near. He can sense the humidity of the air, can sense the plants growing on the balcony, two rooms away. Can sense people, in the appartement bellow them, and next to them, and something small - maybe a dog. He senses the canalisations, like veins in a rock body that is this building. His head is still aching. His blood is calling for fights to come.
He wonders if it’s fair of him to expose his mother to the monster he is slowly becoming. He wonders if she’ll let him sleep in the bathtub, if she’ll let him lock the door just in case. He wonders if, maybe, with a bit of luck, he’d drown one night, in his bathtub. He wonders if the fact that the idea is oh so tempting makes him selfish.
“Yeah,” he finally rasps out, and it sounds distant to him. “Home.”
And he wonders if one day he will truly have one of those.