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In Between the Lines of Vice

Chapter Text

His feet dangled over the edge of the building, swaying back and forth in the wind. The ground was so far away, so blurry. The Manhattan residents all scurrying along 5th and 34th like their all the most important thing in the world. From up here, they looked like ants, bacteria fighting to conquer the host.

The wind bit against his skin harshly, cold rips that made him shiver the slightest amount. He didn't really care though. For the first time in his life, he felt like he didn't care about the wind or who owned it. For so long he had been afraid of the air because of who he was. To him, the sky had meant danger, death even.

Sitting on top of the gate on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, didn't have fear of death. No, death and him had made a friendship. He would dance along the edge of the endless abyss and listen to the songs played by the heroes before him, but death hadn't pushed him off yet. So no, he didn't fear death, he welcomed him with open arms.

It got worse as it started to rain. Sheets of brisk water broke through the darkening Manhattan sky line, soaking him in the cold. He still didn't care though. Gazing upon the streets below as the torrential downpour blasted through the city that never sleeps, his mind was to occupied to think about the freezing rain.

He wanted to believe deep inside that he wasn't thinking about it, it would be so simple. The ground was so far away, the downpour was so thick he couldn't even see it. Quick and painless unlike the rest of his life which was full of sacrifices and pain. He wanted to believe that the idea of slipping of the top of the railing wasn't at all appealing and the ground wasn't drawing him in like he was made of death mist, still in the depths of tartarus.

He would be lying to himself.

He didn't want it anymore, the life.

He didn't want the nightmares that riddled his mind every night, turning his own mind against him. He still saw the faces of all the monsters he had killed, the faces of his friends as they met their end on the tip of a celestial bronze blade. They haunted his vision every night along with the acidic air from the pit of hell. The pain of his past wasn't something he liked to remember, but it was all he could remember.

The misery from the glass shores of the river Cocytus still lingered, the voices of desperation telling him to give in. He remembered the fiery burn as the blistering water moved down his throat from the shore of the river Phlegethon. Still felt the raw burning of his skin as all her was and ever would be was being stripped away in the depths of the river Styx.

So many scars littered across his skin, hidden by an old, worn orange t-shirt. Claw marks, knife wounds and burns took up most of the space along his torso and arms, whitened lines showed the old wounds, then there was the new ones. The once toned and smooth skin was unnaturally pale under the blue hoodie. The scars were reminders of the pain he never chose to feel, but then again he never really had a choice.

The consequences were always to high for him to ignore the responsibility. It was always the choice to fade into the darkness of the deep ocean and let the world burn, or fight through all the pain and death to save a place doesn't deserve to be saved. Sure, there was innocence in the world, but there was also evil. They were always at war, fighting for dominance without any care for the casualties. There was innocence in his eyes once, he wasn't very sure if it was still there behind the witness of war, the slaughter of good and evil.

What was good and evil? He had killed, the countless monsters and even some demigods in the name of Olympus. Was that considered good? Were the sons and daughters of Olympus that chose, or were forced to, fight in the name of the opposition really evil. The heroes were always bathed in a golden light, but not all heroes were good and not all antagonist were evil. So where did he lay?

Maybe the lines were blurred. He refused to think that those actions were evil, but they weighed too heavily upon him to be good. In a world full of differences and a life full of war you learned that the world wasn't black and white. No it wasn't limited to those colors, there was faces full of red and blue oceans. If everything was black and white than he didn't want to live in a world where the only battles were of the forces of light and dark.

Maybe he was fighting for hope. Fighting himself to keep the sliver of hope left in Pandora's pithos, to not let Elpis abandon his heart. He wasn't fighting for the forces of light and dark, he was fighting himself, for the idea that things would get better. All of these years he had held a sword in the name of Olympus for the belief that one day he could sit on a beach with his toes in the sand, watching the waves ebbing and flowing against the shore.

Where was that hope now as he sat in the rain on the top of a ten foot gate on the top of the Empire State Building?

He didn't want to fight anymore, whether the world was burning or the oh do great king of gods himself got down on his knees and begged, he was done. His hope could only last for so long.

He stared down into the streets of Manhattan, watching the water pelt down from the sky. It would be so simple, quick and easy. The ground was so far away, but it would be over in seconds and then there would be no pain.

How far would he go to escape the pain?

His legs hanging off the edge curled into his chest, pressing against his ribs so far he could feel the quickening vibrations in his ribcage. Slowly, almost impossibly slow, his feet took the weight of his body and his legs straightened. His balance on the curved fence wavered for a moment, the wind and sleet like pain pelting his skin unpleasantly.

His chest heaved taking in shaky breaths, trying and failing to calm his beating heart trying to escape his ribcage. He couldn't breath, panic flooded his veins as his legs swooned and he felt the continuous palpitations of his beating heart sitting against his Trachea. He was right on the edge, water sleeting against his skin an uselessly soaking into his clothes. He shouldn't have felt fear, he had fought of the monsters that gave the heroes of old nightmares and saved Death himself from the clutches of Titans. So why did he freeze and scrunch his face together trying to block all of it out as he stood balanced precariously on the curved iron fence.

He remembered something a friend of his once said, he had never really thought about it. In high school he seldom had the chance to form well kept and or meaningful relationships. In his last year, as he struggled to fight off nightmares and pass his exams simultaneously. Not many people even took the opportunity to talk to him, not that he blamed them, he presented himself as a way of quiet sociopathic actions purposely.

There was one girl though, either she really didn't care or was just as socially inept. She sat next to him at lunch, the only other contact was from across the classroom of 5th period biology. She was one of those artists types. She was talented, nothing compared to the complexes of what he had seen come off of Rachel's canvas, but she carried a sketchbook filled to the brim with people, all different faces.

She didn't talk much, eating the little food she brought from home in silence. We would exchange words sometimes though, how was it possible that someone had so much too say yet never had the courage to say it?

One day he had asked her out of the blue if she smart, it was a difficult question to answer but he was a curious person and maybe the lack of social interaction had gotten to him. At first she had said nothing, then he distinctly recalled a sigh drowned out by the booming laughter of the obnoxious teenagers that crowded the tables.

She said that it wasn't up to her, her life was inevitably controlled and judged by those around her. She had said that it didn't matter what she thought about herself, in the end the final decision was up to the teacher giving her a D in PE, the college declining her admission, and the management that would eventually fire her from her job. He remembered the hopeless look in her shining hazel eyes before she went back to sketching the unknowing guy sitting across from her.

It seemed so long ago, but it was only three years.

She said that the people that invaded your lives subsequently controlled it, influencing your actions and decisions. Then there were the people that decided your fate controlling you directly, whether it be with the fire of a gun pointed to your head or the lack of opportunities. Was it his fault had all of this had happened? Was the moment of him standing on the edge of the gate really his actions, or the actions of those that had pushed him and pushed him? Was this really his decision? Did he want this? Did he want it to end so abruptly?

What else could he do? He didn't know what to do with this pain he felt, the deep ache that he couldn't vanquish with the strongest of swords. He just wanted the pain to be gone, for the memories of what he had done and what was going to do to be erased from existence in the river Lethe. It was always there sitting rooted deep in his chest, in every breath, every beat of his heart, he felt his festering like a blister under his skin. What release from pain was better than death?

His body swayed in the wind, eyes closed tight as his brain fought for control over his emotions. No one looked for death, even when you want death and you hold a blade to your neck, your body repels the action and you start consider that maybe this wasn't the way. Sometimes your hands would shake, pressing the blade into your skin, holding your breath as if in suspense for the big show. He knew the process to well, but he guessed that he was to weak to do it in the end.

The big plot twist. The enormous cliche. The hero invariably brought down by his own hands.

His eyes watered as he reached the ground, stepping tentatively onto the platform as if the ground were littered with landmines. His knees buckled and gave out, crashing into the concrete and holding his upper body up by his hands. Wet matted hair splayed over his forehead and flung over his eyes, almost brittle and stringy now. In the puddle under him, sunken hollow eyes stared back, accompanied by pale skin and now sharp cheekbones.

He never did jump off that roof, no he was too weak.

Or was he too strong?

Did he fight himself to stay alive and continue to live in a world where everything wants him dead?

Or did he lose the fight to save himself from the hardships that were to come?

Only the fates know now.

Chapter Text

When everything is silent, quiet and still, sometimes you could hear it. You can't describe it, a sound of a thousand sounds, but no sound at all. All the noise around you blocks it away, drowns out the fragile sound with laughter and sobs alike. No, everything must be quiet. Every creature that chirped in the trees must be frozen and every predator that growled must be lying sleeping in tall grass. When the forest holds its breath and the wind doesn't hum through the trees, then you can hear it.

No one knows what it sounds like, or if it's a sound. Some say it's a feeling, complete silence with your eyes closed letting all other senses run rampant.

Some say that it's a calmness, a suppressed version of death that would make you feel weak and helpless but never so alive. That you feel the tingle in your bones and the muscles in your shoulders relax when the absence of life and sound floods your ears.

Then maybe it was a sound. The sound of all absence of sound, like an intense ring to maintain your mind. That if you truly heard nothing while you could still hear, no beat of your heart, never an ounce of wind whistling through the trees, your mind would crumble.

It was a myth, a legend, nothing more than a story sang in the night under the stars. He knew better than most that a story could be so much more, so real. He had never heard it, heard nothing to hear something, but he knew that one day he would.

Death. That was when you heard it.

Death is a strange thing. You go your whole life avoiding the inevitable, the consequences of life and your decisions. You wish that you had more time in the world of the living, then let go one day with no knowledge of where you end up or how much you will wish that you are still alive.

They say that all death does is take, take your family, your friends. It takes they lives of those who haven't lived, and those who have lived to long. It takes the pain away, but it also takes you and what you were from the people closest to your heart. It takes, takes everything, everyone. The one thing that no one could ever escape.

Death makes you strong, as it does with a soldier willing to kill to protect what he believes in and protect those he loves from the things he hates. Death makes you weak, as soldier screams in the dead of night from the nightmares, every bang from every gun that hit its mark. It makes you hardened, standing strong like steel. It takes your nightmares and makes them real, staring you in the face with a vicious grin.

It sometimes has mercy, then is merciless.

Death is strange.

There was once he felt that he had power over fate, over death. It was a Wednesday afternoon in the city and the intense Autumn heat had spread through the air before it turned into a frozen hell. The sky was overcast, which was about as unusual as traffic, and you could smell the pollution in the air with every wasted breath.

There was a girl though, which could have been the standard reincarnation of Aphrodite. She was couldn't have been more than 7 and a crown of curly blonde locks fell just past her ears. Blue eyes stared through the glass, her head rested firmly against the window watching the cars pass. She closed her eyes though, tight, as the volume rose.

"If you weren't such an arrogant prick maybe you could have picked your daughter up from studio!" The mother ground out through clenched teeth.

"You never told me about it!" The father yelled back. "What do-what do you want me to do? Huh? Develop telepathy-"

"I did tell you about it! Then I put it on the calendar, and then made an alarm on your phone!"

"You did not! There-" She cut him off abruptly yelling.

"There was! If you would get off your ass and actually listen to what I'm saying then maybe your daughter wouldn't have been sitting outside the building for three hours!"

Tears spring in her eyes, she tried to fight them, push them back down and ignore the screaming match but her eyes were failing her. Her head dropped against the back of her seat, rolling back and forth on the leather with eyes shut tight.

She couldn't breathe.

"Well maybe if everything that came out of your mouth wasn't narcissistic insults, then I would listen to you more." He shot back, the volume rising. "All you do is tell me to work harder, help you more. Who goes to work 10 hours a day!? Huh?"

"Please, stop." She whimpered through salty tears she could already taste. Her voice went unheard.

"I'm done being your housewife!" She banged her hand against the steering wheel "I clean, cook, take care of Dany, and our financial issues. If it weren't for me, you have debt shoved so far up you ass it would take years to shit out a single dollar!"

"No respect, you wouldn't have food to eat if I didn't work my ass of for this family, and all I get is you complaining about how you have to take care of our child!"

"Maybe I would respect you if you respected how much I work MY ass off for this family." She swerved on the road the slightest bit as banged her fist against her leg. "Do you know how hard it is to raise a child? No! Because you never helped me! I can count on one hand how many diapers you changed!"

"This is about diapers! Are you fucking kidding me! Guess whose money bought those fucking diapers!"

"Stop it!" She screamed at the top of her lungs and both parents went quiet in a millisecond. Tears were freely falling down her face now and her breath was ragged.

"This conversation doesn't include you Dany. That was rude." Her father broke in after a moment and she swore that she would one day rip that condescending tone out of her throat.

"If you don't want me it interrupted your conversation that doesn't include me. Don't have a conversation in the middle of the car, about me." She retorted with snark.

"Not everything's about you Dany, don't be selfish." Her mom condescended. She opened her mouth and then promptly closed it pressing her lips together so hard she could taste the iron.

"Just please stop fighting." she begged quietly through tears.

Neither of her parents got to respond as car horn blared to their left and the car shook violently on the impact. The metal caved in the side and they went weightless, the girls limbs jerking forward violently against the will of the seat belt.

Metal groaned and she screamed as the car leaned sideways past the railing of the bridge, falling into the Hudson. The girl jerked as it made impact against the water and her head slammed against the window so hard thin web like cracks appeared in her absence. It fell in with a deep thump and immediately started to sink.

Water poured in from the side rising around her, going from just touching her toes to around her waist. She twisted in her seat, thrashing trying to regain her breath. Her head swarmed and pounded like someone was breaking through her scalp with a hammer, and she felt wetness running down the side of her face.

The water was up to her chest now.

Her hands griped her parents seat in front of her, panicking. She knew that she was going to die, the water was to her neck now. She lifted her chin and jammed her hand into her seat belt buckle that realised her.

She stood up on her seat and looked around her. The murky water only seemed to come in faster, the car leaning forward now and the water rushed to the front of the car. Her parents was the first thought on her mind. That's when she saw the water tinged red flowing around her mother's torso. It wasn't that hard to connect the dots as they were both slumped forward on to the mantel.

The window where her head had hit the window was tinged red, but that was soon covered in water. She screamed and banged on the window the hardest she could as the water rose faster around her.

Even when she could no longer breath she kept at it, when the water was well over her head. Then her hits got slower and softer, they stopped all together and she floated freely in the murky water. All she saw was dark.

Then she was convulsing, water in her throat. But she could she the sky, that was strange for being underwater. Her chest ached and burned and a breath of air that she didn't know she had pushed the water from her throat. The water gurgled over the side of her mouth and then she felt a hand on the small of her back, pushing her over.

Moments later she was on her side hacking and coughing, water like sludge falling from her mouth mixed with some of the contents of her stomach. Her chest felt like someone had knocked in her ribs, each beat of her heart caused a debilitating ache.

She fell back onto her back, unable to support her weight with her arms that resembled cooked noodles. Looking up to the sky, relishing the feeling she could see it. Then there was the boy above her, the one with green eyes.

So death is strange. Yes sometimes it spares the innocent, but then it also sometimes spares the people who have killed the innocent and those who threw away their conscious and climbed over others to reach their goals. It also takes the hundreds of children who don't make it every day.

In the end, death spares no one, nothing, not even the gods. No one has power over death, even the god of death. Death is fate, if your meant to be alive, you live, if you were meant to die, you die. It is both the simplest concept and the most complex system. So even if he allowed someone to live, he didn't change a thing, it was just what he was supposed to do.

Even the innocent dies, but he was no innocent, neither was he evil.

At this point he had no idea who he was.

Percy Jackson. Perseus Jackson, son of Poseidon and hero of Olympus. That was his title, but it was a name, it meant nothing. He wanted to know who he was but what he had done told him nothing about what he wanted to be.

It always seemed to come back to a point though. One thing he knew, the thing he was used to by know despite his complaints of being dragged in helplessly by his feet.

War.

His eyes scanned the buildings below him in milliseconds, taking in every detail. Every crevasse and every piece of laundry that was left out to dry but never brought inside, would never be put back inside. It was a ghost town with only a few people hiding and scampering out into the light like cockroaches.

Sand roads separated tan buildings, some compromised to the point where they looked like they would blow over in the wind. The sun was unforgiving in this part of the world, the desert like land cursed in an endless summer and drought, every surface searing hot. His lips had become dried and cracked from repeated days in the sun. He hadn't moved from the spot on top of the building piering through the same crack in the bricks, rifle in hand, for over 8 hours.

He guessed that it didn't really matter if someone was innocent of not, evil or good, young or old. No it never mattered, if it did matter then he wouldn't have shot three people today.

His jaw clenched as a man that couldn't have been older than 20 turned around the corner with a gun. He adjusted his scope to zoom in on him, just his forehead that snuck around the building side. The lines on his face creased harshly when the man raised his gun to target a soldier near him, fingers itching on the trigger. He closed his eyes and jolted as his own rifle went off and the man fell to the ground with a sickening thud.

His lower jaw quivered and his hand flexed off of his gun as he blew out the deep breath he had forgotten he was holding. He didn't let his eyes linger on the scene as he scoured to ground below once more. He couldn't, he was already losing what was left of his mind out here and think about what he had done and what he will do was not a healthy way of passing the time. Then again neither was shooting people that were the leftover resistance in the streets of an abandoned town turned into a warzone base.

If this was Star Wars he was having trouble determining whether he was a stormtrooper or one of those people who could move things with their minds and blew up the big metal thing that could destroy planets. To be honest he was sorta hoping for the latter.

So yeah, that was it, that was his life now. He was to sit on a building for over 10 hours a day and shoot bad guys with his gun. He was not embarrassed to say that sometimes he pretended it was a plasma shooter to take the edge off.

He could tell if he was relieved or disappointed when night had fallen and his shift was over, and if he was truly honest with himself, it scared him to the bone. The upside to the situation, he grinned as he was told his service tour was up the next day, he was going home.

Only if he knew what kind of shit storm he would rake up.

Then again if something can go horribly wrong, it will.

Chapter Text

The first time Percy met the god of lies, it wasn't what you would call a 'good' day. 

To be honest, that would be impossible to create a greater understatement.

It was the fourth of July, they day of rebirth. The day the nation had become independent, new. Fireworks burst along the night sky, different colors tinting the windows through a shade in his pathetic Manhattan apartment. He tried his hardest not to twitch every time a thunderous canister exploded. It pulled back to many memories to be enjoyable. 

So there he sat, in the darkness of his living room, nursing a particularly strong bottle of scotch. But that was no different then the night before, or the night before that. To be honest, he couldn't remember a time this week where he had left the apartment building. Then again, he couldn't recall the last time he had slept...

A firework lit up the sky, interrupting his thoughts before he delved to deeply into the subject. His head spun to the window covered by the shade, a red tinge staining the entire room. He shook his head at his own jittery actions....the firecrackers that were set off on the street below sounded to much like gunshots for not to think of the things he tried his hardest to never think about.

He swung back another mouthful of the bottle, wanting it to make him feel numb as it burned down his throat, or at least distract him from the things edging up in his mind. He pinched himself in the thigh subconsciously, till his unkempt nails dented into his skin.

He could hear people laughing, he was sure of it. Outside, where they pranced around in the street watching the displays of fire in the sky. People sneaking pecks under the estranged darkness. It wasn't even nine, but the pounding across the sky continued relentlessly as if it would never end. 

His body felt so hot under his skin, bubbling up to the surface like a blister. He felt to tired to want to keep is eyes open, but he knew he would never sleep for long, not if the dark purple bags under them had anything to say. It was all he felt capable of to raise the bottle to his lips again, but knowing he wanted to do so much more. 

Voices from the street met his ears again, unintelligible but lighthearted. He was starting to think the complete silence was better than this, the constant torture of people. It might have been better to just to be alone than listen to the laughter that he could never have. No, he could never have the innocence again, the spark of light in his soul. It felt to numb, maybe that was it, maybe he just wanted to feel something. Or maybe he wanted to stop feeling. 

He flinched sluggishly as the call toe of his phone went off, the sound of the generic chime that he was to unpressed to change filling in all of the sound that was unwanted. He could feel his mouth dip down into a scowl, the chime continuing to it's end and repeating till it sounded off. He didn't feel like caring at that point. Then the voicemail commenced. His moms voice filling the small apartment.

"Hey Percy," She began with some sort of emotion, longing maybe? What ever it was it sent a pang through his chest, pinching his thigh harder than before.

"Sorry for calling out of the blue, I know that your probably busy, but I just wanted to wish you a happy 4th of July." Her tone lacked what the words felt. He hadn't talked to her in so long.

"Just," She paused, most likely pursing her lips. "Just try and call more often, I miss hearing from you."   

"I know you've been having a hard time since, since-well you know. But I don't even know where you are, much less who you are. Please, just please pick up the phone." He shut his eyes tight as he heard the desperation in her tone. 

He couldn't talk to her, see her. He couldn't let her see the mess he had become, gods he was a coward. He would DIE before she had to see the mess he had held onto, the empty shell of a man that his conscious now called home. Yes, death seemed like a much than the disappointment in her eyes. 

"I love you." The voicemail ended and he sunk even further into the cushions, his hand finally releasing from the death grip pinch on his leg. All he could do was focus on how it stung, waiting till he could breathe again.    

His mind had always been to scattered, one thing in his thoughts led to the inevitable pain of another. He could never focus on what right was in front of him, unless he was dying of course, and that happened more than he would of liked it to. He knew that he should have picked up the phone, he should have got his ass up from the hole he had burnt in to the couch and talked to his mother, but he didn't. To be honest he couldn't even blame it on his ADHD. Sure, it made it easier to think about something else, anything else, but his was his own oncoming weakness in which he just- just couldn't.

His hand holding the bottle was shaking involuntarily, not even really wanting to drink anymore, but placing the glass rim to his lips on impulse. Something inside him repulsed the liquor that burned down his throat, like for the first time he actually felt it, let himself focus on the sensation instead of the unnamed things that he never wanted to think about. It wasn't something that felt well, it had always left a sour taste in his mouth, but he never cared. Why did he care?

He didn't want to feel, the alcohol that ran down his throat like bile, the undisturbed voicemail that would remain undisturbed, the forever hole that he was burring himself alive in. He didn't want to feel any of it, contain it all. Not the pain, not the memories, and definitely not the nightmares that made it so much worse. 

The bottle shattered against the wall, shards of glass raining onto the floor in a heap. He didn't care. Not about the glass, not about the pain-well maybe about the pain because it would never fucking leave- but whatever fucking happened. He. Didn't. Care. 

Or maybe he cared too much and it burned him worse than the alcohol would ever.  Maybe it was that he took a hit to the chest, GWS and never stopped bleeding. A grenade that set off too  close and embedded shards and debris into his bloodstream, either killing him slowly or his heart stopping to quick to tell, leaving him in vertigo and confusion. Maybe that was why he was finding it hard to breathe, because for some godforsaken reason, he cared. He cared for things he should have never let touch him and now he was burning. 

The point is, well the point is that the point was never clear. He did was he was mean to do, did more, did it all. Now that nothing was ruling over his life, he didn't know what on earth he was doing alive. What was the point of surviving when nothing ever lives like its supposed to. So he didn't die and now he can't breathe. Not for something he has to do, but because he doesn't know what he has to do, and truthfully, he doesn't know which on is worse. 

That one moment, when he couldn't take in any breaths and he was on the verge of panic, he decided he wanted to see the fireworks. He had no idea once so ever what he was going to do or where he was going to go. His hands were still shaking as he got up off the couch and moved to the door on unsteady legs and twisted the knob, slowly, hesitantly. He was to warm, feverish and the night felt so cool. 

So against any better judgement, or lack thereof, he stumbled down the hall and left his apartment building to watch the fireworks like a person that thought every boom was going to kill him. 

Therefor making the absolute worst mistake of his entire life, which mind you is something quite ambitious if we reviewed all of his mistake. That being a thing he would never want to do, therefore this taking the title.

Outside bad. 

Alone, isolated, forsaken, forlorn, unaided, unattached, a fucking mere shadow of what he was and what he wanted to be. Anything, would have been better than the shit storm he drove himself into. 

The fireworks were beautiful no doubt though, multicolored explosions cascading across the sky in controlled chaos. So, maybe it was that he didn't really care for the holiday, but he thought watching the flames fizzle out and crackle was better than watching the colors stream in from the shaded window. 

He didn't exactly know where he was, on the top f some random building, laying down on the concrete and watching the sky. His face lit up with the colors in the sky, and for some reason, for just a moment,  he could forget the wars and the pain. In one explosion of a mortar, there were no phone calls left unanswered, no pieces of literature controlling his fate and definitely no people. All there was, was a night sky full of color and a mere boy that watched in awe at the display. Mouth open and eyes full of light. There was no pushing, shoving or greed for that moment, and it felt light, free.

And then that moment as gone, because there was someone on the roof with him.

He felt the coldness of a blade pressed dangerously deep into the skin next to his jugular artery. His back stiffened, all of the fatigued muscles tensing to the point where his abdomen burned from lack of a decent meal. 

This wasn't the first time a blade had been pressed to his neck, if he had enough time it would have been possible to count them. Alas, he probably didn't have the time. His mind reeled though. Sure, there was only a few deities who didn't want him beheaded and thrown off the face of olympus to display his entrails as a sacrifice, but that didn't exactly narrow it down. Anyone could have wanted him dead, but who would go through with it?

No-wait. If you wanted someone dead you didn't hold a knife to the neck and hold your fire. This action was done with intent. Without further analysis he wouldn't have been able to tell if the person holding the knife to his neck would go through with killing him, intent or not, but with how strong the grip was on the blade, he wasn't stupid enough to risk it. So after that single second thought process, he waited for the supposed man to speak.

He didn't, so he took the opening. 

"Is there a reason that you are currently holding a knife to my neck?" He asked dumbly and straightforward, trying not to moved his neck as to not disturb the very sharp blade.

"Don't feign not to know Denver, you didn't hold up your end of the deal." His voice was smooth, powerful. Dangerously so. He didn't sound older than-wait what?

"I don't particularly remember making any deals, and the last time I checked I hadn't legally changed my name to Denver. So...." His voice trail off, trying his hardest not to show any falters. 

The knife loosened hesitantly on his neck and he let out a breath of air that had become stale in his chest. So looks like it was an accidental threat on his life, that was new. Usually it was someone actively trying to kill him. He decided he liked this better.

"Um look man, I don't really feel like dying at the moment." He started, putting on one of those dumb street thug voices. "Which that feeling is surprisingly new, so if you be so kind..." 

He felt the knife leave the skin of his neck, but leaving a line of blood that welled up where the sharp edge had been only moments before. He breathed in deeply and got out of the man's grip as fast as he could, turning to see his face. 

Strange. Strange is the word he would use to describe him. Well the nice one at least. He looked weird as hell. Sure he himself had been decked out in full battle armor several times, he'd worn some togas aswell. One time in his misfortunate youth he had even tried pranking the Athena cabin dressed as the Black widow....which was unspokenly never mentioned again. This guy though, he resembled someone at comic-con dressed as an evil Hermes. To be honest, any of the gods at comic-con was an image he wanted to forget. 

He had black plated armor with gold and green outlining his shoulders. He also had a cape, which made it very hard to take in the intimidating dangerous gleam in his eyes like he was supposed to. His hair was half slicked back and half falling to the side of his face, black locks that contrasted sharply against his pale skin. 

When another firework exploded, it shone red light onto the tops of his features and showed his expression that looked downright murderous. For some reason though, it didn't seem to be aimed at him. That was also new. 

So he tried his best to make himself look non threatening, which was hard for he was very tired, and also particularly annoyed that the one time he went outside he was assaulted by a mortal cosplayer. He was still in a bit of a defensive stance, but not a strong one. His muscles were tense and ready for action but fell loosely to his sides. The last thing he wanted was a fight at the moment, but he would if that was what it came to. Though he was particularly unarmed against mortals.     

"Why are you at this location?" He demanded in his silky venomous articulation. 

That's exactly what I wanted to know, but he didn't, so he did the best he could. His hand drew up and pointed at the sky full of colors.

"Fireworks." He said plainly. 

The mans scowl deepened, lines forming on his forehead as his eyebrows scrunched together. He tried to convey the aura of 'Dude, like this will be the one and only time i'm completely innocent in my actions.' He could see it on his headstone now, 'Killed by a Cosplayer Mob-Boss who though he was a Denver, mourn his stupidity.'

"I do not view the significance of such a date." He made a noise reminiscent to a scoff. "You witless mortals and your petty holidays."

He froze, loosened stance going ridged. His face became icy, hardened.

Mortals.

Mortals.

"Who are you?" He questioned crudely, filled with a mixture of anger and curiosity. His calm, stupid demeanor falling faster than Castiel fell for Dean.

The other man noticed the change almost immedetly, his arms shifting under his armor. He snarled and griped his knife tighter in his hand.

"That is none of your concern, you incoherent midgardian." He shot out, somehow even more venomous than before.

That was anything but normal, but nothing was ever normal for him.

Midgardian.

Meaning of origin of Midgard, or Earth.

Commonmy used in Nordic reign.

.......fuck.

He backed away to the edge of the building, he was not ready to deal with a Norse god that looked like he jumped straight out of a movie. The God was blocking the entrance to the roof. If he distracted him or taunted gim, he could get him to move closer. He looked over the edge of the building, if he couldn't get him to move that was the only other way out that was semi-survivable.

He didn't get to make a decision though, because something that was very much not a firework exploded in the building next to him. It threw him off his feet onto the ruff concrete roofing.

He stared up into flames, burning is eyes with the heat simply radiating off of it. His ears rang from the initial explosion, he could barely here, but from where he sat he could have sworn that the God had muttered something from under his breath.

"So I was mistaken, Denver completed the task."

As he looked up to the building in a daze he only thought one thing. Why the he'll did he go outside?

Chapter Text

Fighting for your life is like a game. The most important game.

The swings of a sword are like hands pushing pieces across a chess board, hoping that the one that rules stays in power and the queen isn't harmed in the process. The other pieces are fair game, invaluable to you if they aren't going to make you loose. The foot soldiers are your mind, the part that doesn't matter to the players in the end. Who cares if you can't sleep at knight as your mind plays the blood you shed on repeat until you feel the bile rising when there is a war to win. Who cares about the gauntness in your chest , the hollow cheekbones and the sunken eyes when making a wrong move means that you don't matter. Means that you don't exist.

In war.... it will never really end. Sure the peace treaties may be signed, the soldiers go home, they celebrate the lives that they didn't loose....and mourn the ones they did. Then the players go and look for a new war to fight, a new game order and they would win this time, their sure. Then the war never left the ones who lived it, it's in their dreams on most nights. In their nightmares. As shown by the union and the confederacy, the deadliest war we will ever fight, is with ourselves.

A smart man never looks for war, but then again, the brain side was never really his strong suit. If he played his cards right, he would survive another hell, or he would go down fighting. Go down clawing his way out of hell, cause he had lost his mind along time ago. It went with the death that followed him, his own personal plague.

But really if he was being honest with himself, he never really wanted to come home from that, wasn't suppose to come home from the war. If he was really honest, he never really did.

It was all a game to the ones playing, sacrificing their pieces till they could call victory, but when it's real, no one really wins. There was a difference between a victory and a slaughter and that was written on a piece of paper for causal discussion of real life casualties. When a life is valued on who you are and what you can do and not that everyone should be the same. The numbers on a paper are just numbers.

So yeah he never really came home from any of the wars that he fought, it was gone in the wind as he kept sacrificing his pieces and kept pushing off the realization that some of those parts were important. Then reality kept setting in and showing him that he was never going to get that part of himself back. The part that could do no wrong. The part that, once was gone, people turned their backs on a disfigured man. A different man. Sometimes he felt like the monsters he was trained to fight.

They show what they win, but when they seem to loose themselves they push away what they loss and hoping it didn't matter as much as it hurt.

This wasn't really a game, cause there is no restart, and they were real people. Not chess pieces thrown into the fire. Not now. Not ever.

But here he was again, throwing himself into the fire. Quiet literally.

He didn't know why he went in there. Why, before even opening his eyes, did he leap over the edge of the building to scale the outer as the heat seared his back?. Why did he run through to scorched opening like he was 16 and ready to die for assholes in the sky?

And most of all, why did he feel most alive in the moment death could have been so close.

Thick black smoke twirled it's way around him with vengeance, like it's only purpose was to choke him. To gasp for a breath of air as his lungs filled with soot. It was like hell all over again, toxic air, scorching heat. He ran through blindly, looking for stares, for people. He heard a cry from the second story but when he finally found the source, they looked like he had been dipped into a deep fryer. The ash was almost to much for him.

Then he made a decision, a stupid decision really, to climb higher.

He checked through doorways lit with a darkened angry hue, dodged falling beams and leaped dangerously close over columns of fire. His shirt had found it's way to sit on the top of his nose, anything to block out the burning in his throat, it felt too much like everything he wanted to forget.

He ran through an open doorway as he heard a whimper, finding a little girl curled into a ball on the floor. She looked horribly injured with burns running all the way up the right side of her body, her blond hair in patches on her head. Her face was stained with tears, her chest convulsing painfully with sobs. She couldn't have been more than 9.

He knelt down in front of her in a instant, pushing his hands under her hot skin and pulling her up in his arms as gently as possible, then promptly, making a run for it. The smoke had become thicker now and his eyes started to burn a long time ago. That didn't deter him from running as fast as was inhumanly possible.

Then he was in the open air, and he wondered why he hadn't notice before how beautifully cold it was, as the harshness of winter in her full glory. He fell to his knees laying the girls limp body onto the cool concrete. He felt a wave of panic pass through him in the moments that he searched for a pulse, but it was there a beating strong.

She didn't deserve this, none of them deserved this.

He felt red hot anger in his chest, blowing out a piece of air. Who was that man and what kind of person was he if he killed hundreds innocent people in an act of what? Terrorism?

He held his breath as he looked down at the girl, even with the burns she looked so much like-

NO. No don't go there. If he went there he would never get out. So he leaned down and pressed a peck to her forehead before running back into the building, not willing to admit to himself that the tear falling down his cheek wasn't from the burning ash under his eyelids.

Now people can be seen from the outside. You can see the choice of shoe they wear. How they did their hair, and how their shirt doesn't match. A smile. But can you notice, notice the way their footfall looms heaver or how no one seems to hear the steps. Can you notice the way they seem to curl into themselves when something really important falls to the ground. Can you notice how the smile doesn't reach their eyes. Everyone sees the tears, but no one really knows where their from.

Sometimes he didn't even know where they were from.

He heard a scream, a cry for help.

So he ran back into hell, into the fire, into the smoke and ash. The blackness swirling like a thunderstorm on the celling, the flames like lightning but not as sudden. It was too bright to be a thunderstorm though, too sweltering. Comparing the flames to a flash of lightning was as foolish as saying a rock was a mountain.

There were more screams.

He shook his head, trying to block out the pain of breathing. There was people dying in this place and if he didn't get them out or do all could to save them, it would be his fault that they died. It would be on his shoulders that a mom never saw he daughter, or a kid would never again return to school. No, he knew what that felt like. He wouldn't wish it upon anyone.

He followed the voices, the cries for help. He ran back through the falling support beams and the pealing wall paper. he ran because it was what he did, because if he wasn't there to fight in the wars and save innocent people in burning buildings, then what exactly was he for? Useless.

So he ran faster following those screams of helplessness he had spent hours dissecting in the midst of a dessert somewhere in the middle east. Trapped and injured, dying. Back when he was still trying to play hero. Maybe that was what he was still doing. Whatever he was doing, he had heard them often enough, so much he never wanted to hear them again.

There was another wail, a cry of pure misery.

And then the building exploded.

Chapter Text

There was something that had adhered to him like glue, something that wasn't a cloud of apathy or the ominous following of his inevitable death. A feeling, all feelings.

Someone, he can't remember who now, told him once that emotions were only chemicals churning through your veins like fire. That the pain, heartbreak and happiness they always yearned to achieve were all just parts that didn't matter. Traveling people who came to town to visit, never to stay. He had wondered for a while why the man was so lifeless, and then as he took the words to heart, he understood.

He had finally understood why his eyes seemed so dull as he found that nothing in the world was special and that anything that mattered would be long gone when he left off the face of the planet. That the amount of time you have isn't up to anyone but yourself and the moments that seemed so special, were only memories of the past that can't be repeated. Like a fossil, etched in stone, what what once there but was now a decayed empty reminder.

He hadn't understood why the man had thought this way, why he contained such malice and spite for the world. But now he knew, knew what it felt like to have that apathy and when the anger runs out all that remains is the cold, empty shell.

It took him a while, through the wars and the suffering, to find out that the man was so empty because he didn't care. He lived his life through the pain and found nothing that he had ever cared for. Not a child, no love for the merciless race of people who had destroyed him, that was for sure. And somehow, someway. As he kept on living and people kept dying, that he slowing transformed into that man. A nameless man driven by apathy and alcohol, who couldn't care less.

He regretted that it took this long to clear his head and realize he never wanted to become that, loathed coming near the description of a man he pitied. He just wished that it didn't have to take the instinctual feeling of being a cursed hero that death seemed to chase in his wake, but never quite catch up to.

He could also do without the hospital bed, that would have been better.

He had woken up two days ago strapped to a bed surrounded by white walls and sterile floors. He had never liked hospitals, which sucked because he was the last person in the world to be carful in life. They had asked questions, questions he didn't want to answer. 'Who are you?', 'Do you have any family members to call?' Or wanting to know his blood type. They also didn't think he was going to make it, there was 'extreme trauma to the prefrontal cortex and several broken bones' to put it bluntly. Also healing burns over 65% of his skin, he didn't want to answer those questions either.

They said people were hailing him a hero, saving that little girl from the fire, then almost dying in the effort of saving more, but he didn't feel like one. All he felt like was a dumbass that should have never left through the front door. Now he laying in a hospital bed contemplating his life choices, which he found wasn't any better than being eaten alive by a the sentient couch cushions drowning himself in something that may succeed in killing him.

He had become weak, a mess, disappointment. At least, to those in who really mattered. Even as he sat glaring at people from his hospital bed, he felt like an immature child that was trying to prove he wasn't a child by being a scornful teenager. It didn't matter the staff was unnerved by his very presence though, he was surrounded by white walls, confused and pissed. 

He didn't know whether he wanted to wallow in his couch or get off his ass and do something, whether he should forget about the man on the building or hunt his ass down till he paid for what he did, hurting so many people. He knew that he could, if he wanted to, find out who or what he was and contend to kill him. He was never really the detective, no that was...her, but he had gotten better at functioning without that aspect of his life. If he wanted to, he could do anything he wanted, but then again, that would require some of the many connections he had cut himself off from years ago, after she...after she died. 

He didn't think it was worth it to be honest, to face them after all these years and writhe in their hatred and spite, it would be too antagonizing and it wasn't something he was proud of, but it wasn't something he was willing to change for some petty revenge.

Except, it wasn't. He wouldn't stoop that low as to do it revenge, he would do it for the little girl that looked so much like Annabeth, the little girl that was in intensive care with half of her body shrouded in burns. He didn't care about himself, he had none of what people would call pride, and he didn't know if he even could be another selfless hero again, but he had heard the girl crying in the middle of the night, trying to suffer through the pain of the burns and of loosing her parents. 

He didn't know if he could take on the sword that he knew was waiting for him in his pocket, the one that he hadn't used in so long, but he knew the temptation he felt to slice through any type of monster he could find.

All he knew at this point was that there was a man out there ready to hurt innocent people for whatever point and he was there able to make him stop. Who was he to take that closure away from anyone?

He didn't want to become the man, the man who didn't care, the man who lived his life in dullness because no one had ever cared for him. He didn't want to be the man with missed chances sitting on a couch drowning himself in alcohol. And surprisingly, for the first time in a long time, he was bothered by the fact the he was on a path to become the man to live 6ft under. 

So, he decided, to start with little victories.

The nurse walked in bringing him lunch, awfully quiet. He hadn't talked since he got in here, only small nods or inaudible growls under his breath. A glare or two that had people averting their eyes, making the message clear that he would rather be left alone. She didn't look at him, not the bedside table that she set the pour hospital food on before scurrying out, trying avoid his particular unpleasantness. 

Before she left, he grabbed her wrist. He didn't mean to frighten her, but she flinched away from him, visibly agitated. He tried to give he an inviting posture as he mumbled out an apology.

"Do you need something?" She asked him, strained. He really hoped that he didn't scare them that much, he was probably the equivalent to a raging psychopath to the medical field. 

"I-I'm sorry, I just," he pursed his lips, stuttering out his responses was not an adequate conversation. He didn't even know what the hell he wanted to ask, but he knew that he wanted to ask it. Finally he settled on getting information. "Where are we? I was never told what hospital this is."

"Lower Manhattan Hospital, you were airlifted here after the incident near Hell's Kitchen, it was aired all over the news." She seemed less annoyed, more condescending. He didn't care, news meant people, people meant his reign over his disappearance had vanished and people would eventually start looking.

"Thanks..." He muttered, releasing her hand and letting his eyes drop to the white sheets. 

She walked out. 

Thus begun his escape, which included climbing out the window and scaling the building in a hospital gown, fun. He had made a half assed attempt at walking through the city by wrapping the thin white sheet around his ass. When he made it back to his apartment, he collapsed on the couch. 

Anything that mattered could wait for him to sleep while there were decent drugs in him. 

With that, he was out. 

His mind was already made up anyway, he had hands itching to punch something for a long time.

 

Chapter Text

The moment that Percy took a moment to snarl at his opponent, his back was flattened in an unsavory position to the cold brick wall behind him.

The man was fast, talented enough to make him have to try. He had thick brown hair pulled back into a bun, completed with handyman-type blue jeans and a white wife beater. From what was visible, he had scars down his arms, burn patterns that made him wonder what kind of accident had gotten himself into. Who ever the man really was (Because for some reason he really doubted that the man's name was really Death Lightning) he was definitely meant for something greater than low level drug trafficking, something preferably legal.

He found himself grinning as he blocked a punch meant for his lower ribs. He had missed this, not necessarily fighting a drug dealer and totally winning, but the rush of adrenaline as he manhandled the guy to the ground with as much grace as possible. The oh so good burn of the muscles that, in his opinon, had been inactive for far to long.

He found himself straddling the guys back, holding his hands in place and incapacitating his leg with his feet. He panted from excerption, he really had been out of commission for way to long. It would have been a lot simpler if the man had offered the info he wanted instead of punching him in the face. It still stung, and he was lucky that his nose wasn't broken, not that it hadn't been before.

"Look," He deadpanned. "We can continue this until one of us pass out, or die possibly, but that's not what I want."

The man struggled in him, trying to get out his hold without any progress. He leaned down, putting his mouth closer to the man's ear.

"What I want is for you tell me who your friend Denver. Not you, no matter how much you disgust me." He moved to dig his knee into the middle of the man's back, he cried out in response. "Word on the street is you know who and where he is. Care to share with the class?"

"Fuck. You." The man spit out with bloody teeth.

"C'mon DL, I thought we were friends!" He cried. "You help me out, you get to live."

He probably wouldn't have killed him...probably.

"Fine! Fuck. He lives at the center, man. I didn't know what he did man, I swear!" He struggled further in his grasp, again, uselessly. "Don't fucking tell him I told you man, I'd be dead by morning."

"Oh DL!" His voice falsely offended. "I wouldn't dream of it."

He dug his hand into the man's hair and pulled it up towards him. The man cried out and he smiled. "Thank you very much DL, your a lifesaver."

He slammed the mans head back into the concrete harshly, at which point he went limp. He was probably okay. Really.

"So, the center, got to found out where that is." He bit his lip.

_

An hour later, the son of Poseidon found himself in front of a large building. The center apparently was, true to it's name, an abandoned sports center. According to google, and damn he had to go to the second page, it closed down twenty years ago due to either lack of funding or an owner death, he had skimmed the page. But whoever owned it, was now dead, and the community was entirely to lazy to knock the building down. He wasn't sure if that was from the abundance of crime going on inside (Hint! Drugs!) or lack of department funding. He found out soon that he really didn't care, his man was inside and Denver was in for the reckoning of his life.

The twenty years was quite obvious when he examined the building further. It was atoned with pealing lime green paint along the sides, brown stains from seeping water trailing down the sides as one might trail down a beach, messily and with wrongful vigorous hope that they looked good. The storm drain had fallen apart, one rusted piece fallen to the ground while the other was still suspended in the air, beneath it, a long brown stain. Well it certainly looked abandoned from where he stood, and he was reluctant to realize that the inside wouldn't be much better.

He sighed woefully, wondering what the hell he was getting himself into, whatever it was, he just hoped it would be fun.

So, there he was, strolling in the door in what he hoped was a casual, relaxed position. The entrance opened up to a welcome area that didn't not look very welcoming, like, at all. What it looked like was that he was right in saying that the inside wasn't any better than the outside. He was pretty sure that the floors hadn't been moped since opening, leaving them brown in most areas and in others, at best a dusty off-white. But what it did look like, ignoring the filth and obvious lack of hygiene, was lived in. There were fresh shoe scuff marks on the floor, like scars against tan skin, browned mud tracks leading through the house. That gives the vision that if Denver the bomb maker did live here, he obviously didn't care about the way it looked.

He sighed softly, only hoping that his insurance covered tetanus shots.

The house, despite it's appearance as a rats home, was dead. No noise came from strange creatures living in the walls, the ones that give little girls nightmares. No creaks came from dips in the tile and, despite the wind billowing outside, no groans came from the building lurching and reeling, trying desperately to not collapse.

The only thing he heard was his own breathing, his own boots lightly hitting the tile. Something felt wrong.

That something came sooner than he liked it to, with a mysterious object belligerently hitting him over the head.

It was probably a bad time to think about how stupid this plan was. Because, in all honesty, the plan was so shitty it would have been better to not have a plan at all. This plan was so horrible that it would have made Batman ask the Mobius Chair why he was such an idiot instead of asking the name of the Joker. That was how stupid he was. Walk into the building pf a bomb maker they said, it'll be fun they said. His last moments were not going to be converted into a meme.

His vision took part in having a mind of it's own, slinking out from his skull and crawling around his head. The world shook violently, but his body only slightly swayed and he found himself turning, trying to capture a blurred look at the famed Denver before he lost control of his vertical position.

What he wasn't expecting was Denver to be a gorgeous girl. In fact, neither did he think Denver was going to pretty at all. The way that he pictured 'Denver' in his mind was a thin greasy man with Harry Potter Glasses and three hairs on his head. Nowhere in the history of man did he think he was going to see a gorgeous redhead in a full body suit who looked downright terrifying.

In fact, before when he believed that his plan was absolute shit 'cause well...it is, that didn't amount to the amount of shit the entire world was at this very moment. Bomb makers with greasy faces and weak dispositions were easy to beat up and get info from. Assassin looking chicks with escrima sticks in each hand and a scowl on their faces don't take any shit.

There was no doubt about it, he was going to die today.

She cocked her head to the side and her scowl turned into a flirty grin that did not at all look flirty. He wavered on his feet and felt his knees buckle, all she did was look down at his, unimpressed.

"Denver," Her voice was smooth and ruff at the same time. Like honey with nuts in it but like blue skies with clouds and-shit she thought he was, ugh, not again. "Somehow you managed to get on Shield's radar."

Shield. What the hell did this guy do? Kill puppies in front of children.

"I'm not....I can't-" His head hit the oh so unpleasant pavement, dropping back with a hard thud. All he wanted to say was he is not and never will be fucking Denver. This was the second time in a week.

"You're under arrest." She jabbed her hand at him, and his body erupted into fire, electrocution was easy enough to identify when it happened to you once a week.

His whole world erupted into a mantra of oh shit before everything went dark.





Chapter Text

Sometimes, no matter how much you plan it in your mind and recite it as if it were your own, the words don't come and all your are left to is empty gazes and angered expressions.

It was ironic since it seemed that he could never shut up a couple years ago, still hopeful and young. Then sometimes he had wondered what had changed, and then he remembered that too much. The dealings within his mind were never a great place to be these last couple months, or at all it seemed. Time and alcohol hadn't helped like he hoped that they would, and his disappointment bled into everything around him, making the couch he sat on for most days intoxicated with the fumes of his misery.

The first time he try and actually do something about his seething horror of a life, he got electrocuted, which, if it was compared to the rest of his pitiful existence, seemed consistent. It wasn't as if he was planning these encounters with people who wanted to do him harm, but his aura must of plucked them out of the sewers where they had roamed and followed all of his mistakes.

The woman in front of him though, she didn't look like she had crawled out of a sewer, at least not any in New York. Did it once, never again, but that brought back uneasy memories that had nothing to do about the monsters they had fought of the smell. Things he preferred not to think of the remain sane, though, it was conceived that resorting to alcoholism wasn't working out for him very well.

His tongue still tasted like lead. He hated electrocution, it was his least favorite method of death. He had tested out that theory many times, but unfortunately had never gotten to the death part. 

"Don't I get a phone call?" He asked suddenly p, interrupting the freighting lady from listing off the very long list of crime that someone by the name of fucking Denver had completed. She stopped and pursed her lips at that, it was the first time he had talked during the interrogation and frankly, he wanted to see how long it took them to relish that his name was in fact not Denver. 

"We are not a sanctioned government program, Mr Dougen," she replied in that same voice that was dead and void of tone, but gravelly, deadly. "You're looking at a long time in jail, at this point, I don't believe a phone call will matter."

He sighed with about as much sarcasm as you can place in a sigh, which apparently, was a lot. "That sucks, I have the number for the rejection hotline memorized. Just wanted one good laugh before all my civil liberties are taken away. "

"No amount of joking is going to solve ours or your problems," she returned stiffly, keeping a calm that many others would have lost by now. "Now if you start talking about something other than wanting delay your obvious jail time, that's closer to helping you. 

He laughed humorously. "First off, you underestimate my skill of turning everything in my life into a joke, it's never backfired. Second, given that your a special non-government facility, I would have thought you would have had and actual picture of your target."

That made her pause and consider his words. She looked to the double way mirror sharply, glaring as if to say 'who do I have to kill now?' Then that gaze returned to him.

"Explain." She said shortly, obviously not in the mood for more of his joking idle chatter.

So, in favor of not being killed for his insolence. He reached out a hand and the friendliest grin he could muster. It was hard because it had been a while since that grin was genuine and not used to make him look like a lunatic, but he conjured it across his lips.

"Percy Jackson, nice to meet you." She looked down at his hand as if expecting it to explode, with caution and the fear he knew she had even though it did not show in her eyes. He had the feeling that mess-ups like this didn't happen too often. How would he know? He had no prior knowledge on the conviction rate of falsely accused mass murderers and terrorists.

She looked back into his eyes, the slight twinkle he had thought had long been diminished must have taken her aback, though she showed it nowhere. She was trained well, to control her emotions and present them in a terrifying manner. She had mentioned SHEILD earlier. He was in the military for a while but had never heard of them, at least not that he could remember. She had said that they were not government sanctioned though, he had a feeling they had something to do with the New York incident. He had remembered hearing about it on the news. Without a proper view of knowledge, he would put have enough pieces to put together just what exactly they did.

The scary woman, because she had not introduced herself and the description seemed to fit since the first meeting with her had ended in electrocution, gave him a once over that should have been unnoticeable if he wasn't so used to people scrutinizing him. After that brief wordless altercation, she had turned on her heal and left without a word. That left him to sit in the uncomfortable chair at the meal table and tap a tune he couldn't get out of his head on its shiny, scratched surface 

He sighed and look at his hands bound in cuffs wth distain. The tightly bound cuff made  his wrist uncomfortable and allowed limited motion. The cuff connected to a metal chain which was welded to the middle of the table. He had seen enough hand cuffs to know how hard they were to undo, and not even in the fun way. 

He shook his head, he could just break the chain but that would defeat the purpose of him wanting to get the actual cuff and it would allow the people watching behind the two way mirror of his above normal strength. He vaguely remembered how to pick a lock from the army courses, but they never did handcuffs and most of the brutes could only manage violently kicking in the door. 

But he didn't want to break the cuff either, that was rude. Then again, so was falsely accusing someone of terrorism, hitting them on the head with a baton, electrocuting them and cutting off the circulation to that persons hands with the tightest pair of hand cuffs to ever be. 

With that, he sighed and dug his fingers under the latch and ripped his arms apart as hard as he could. With the force it took, his wrist nearly popped out of its socket, but thankfully, it didn't and the crack it made was more satisfying than the returning felling to his fingertips. He repeated the action with the other wrist and rubbed at the angry purple marks with self pity and fake hurt. 

Tight handcuffs lost their pain when you've been shot, several times. 

He stood up without cause, maybe it was just something to do. Scary woman had been gone for at least 10 minutes now, ok well maybe it was a minute and a half but that wasn't the point. She had left had now he was stuck alone with the one person he would rather not be alone with, himself. 

He ran a shaky hand through his matted hair. He had let it grow out way to far, not to mention he couldn't remember that last time he had washed it. It wasn't the fist time he was bored, he would live, hopefully. 

By the time the scary woman had came back in he had resorted to French braiding his hair, now that it was long enough, he had been informed by a little girl on the street that it would look 'totally awesome' braided. All she did was quirk an eye brow at him, which went higher as she saw the broken cuffs. 

"So," she started, sitting back down despite his lack of restraint. "Perseus Jackson."

He cringed, hands in the air, halfway through the hair. "Please, the only people that call me Perseus want to kill me. I would rather not die today if that's ok."

She tilted her head, analytical eyes that made the actions more terrifying than it should have been. Eyes that told him she already knew more about him than he did. "Your statement makes me question how often you are in the position of dying."

"Within the first ten seconds of meeting you, I was being electrocuted." He shot back tying off the braid in the back of his head with his own hair. He stretched his arms out before putting them in his lap and shrugging.

She clicked her tongue and nodded. "Fair point. I'm going to guess the answer is frequently then."

He lift his hand with his shrug this time. "It's either that, or becoming a raging alcoholic. I tried the latter, I failed. Dude named Denver put me in the hospital and killed a lot of fucking people, I wanted a little dick picking revenge." And to find that Norse god man dude and kick his smug pug ass. 

"There are many laws in place against against civilian vigilantism." Her voice rose like in a question, a challenge. Well, you never challenge a mentally unstable person, you will loose.

"You already said that you weren't government sanctioned, isn't what your doing vigilantism as well?" He shot back. She gave him a blank stare.

"We could have a talk about the code of laws and ethics, you we could discuss your release or possible incarceration. " she changed the subject, "There is nothing we can prove that you have done based on a few unreliable witness accounts. I already know you would disclose any crimes you have committed, no matter how hard I try. And I'm not allowed to torture a civilian, unfortunately."

"Oh so unfortunate. What if I decided to sew?" He inquired with a cocky grin. 

"Sew a secret organization that now has no legal record of your imprisonment."

"Oh so illegal. This is worse that vigilantism, I was traumatized." He faked a high pitch voice and pitifully leaned back in his own chair giggling. He didn't know he could still giggle. That was new.

The scary woman frowned and stood up, he just sagged further in his chair. She was leaving and he hadn't gotten the info he wanted. 

"The dude Denver worked for though, he was worse than vigilantism. Is outfit was not only horrendous, but his insult of midgardian was so 1100's AD it hurt." She paused her leaving. She obviously knew the tactic he was playing, but she still. Needed to information.

"I take it you know who this man is?" She sat back down with a sigh, her eyes showing more emotion, even if it was pure exhaustion.

"I have my assumptions, if they are true then I know I'm doomed on my quest for vengeance. Though, fighting gods is something I used to do quite frequently. None of them have been Norse yet." He felt like he was revealing too much information, but it was nice to see the scary lady show some actual emotion.

"Loki, of Asgard." She spoke quietly, that dead tone barely above a whisper. He spread his hands.

"That's the guess." He agreed, sighing.

"Though, he is supposed to be locked in the vaults of Asgard." She let that information slip, purposely, no one trained that well did anything by accident. He shrugged again, seemed like once again, he was doing that a lot.

"He's at trickster god, that's like saying that a spider is trapped in their own webs. Any of the Trickster gods I've meant have an affinity to living up to their name." Her eyebrows rose again.

"And you've met a lot of those?" The way she said it sounded more like a statement then a question. 

"It really depends of if you count the numerous amount of that gods sons." He crossed his arms. 

"I believe it's time I ask who you are, Mr. Jackson." She leveled her gaze to mine, quite commanding, but I had a lot of practice defying authority.

"It's not my past to tell, I'm afraid. But I will ask you this. Did you think that only the Norse gods decided to stick around?" He grinned again, but this time it had lost some of it friendly nature and edged further to unnerving. The scary woman only showed contemplation.

"I'm afraid that you've sentenced yourself to future questioning Mr. Jackson." Her voice still sounded dangerous, not dangerous like a rabbit running from a fox, but dangerous as a brick wall on the other side of the parking lot. Once small mistake, one wrong turn and you crash and burn.

"Sounds fun." Her lips twitched, if only slightly, an action she had no trouble making look threatening. 

Without a word, she stood and turned her back to him, not as a symbol of trust. She didn't trust him not to attack her as she turned her back to him, not with a grin that could do more than hint of his feral nature. No, she turned her back because in her analysis, he was still another man who thought that they were could mitigate her actions. He hadn't proven otherwise yet. 

She turned her back to show that she had no fear of him, and that he could attack her all he wanted, she would eventually, without a doubt, posses control.

She felt his eyes on the back of her head she she watched him leave, she felt no malice, but she didn't dare turn her head, feeling like she was Orpheus bringing his dead love back to life. 

Percy blinked then slumped in his chair, feeling as though the course of action would not be easy, but by the gods would they be fun.

 

Chapter Text

Something was lost.

Something was forgotten.

Something important. Something vital. On the tip of the tongue but to never be spoken.

Somehow they forgot, but it's impossible to erase someone, something, completely.

Water was dripping, the constant pat-pat-pat from the sink made it harder to focus, what was it that she forgot? Her eyebrows furrowed and she made the movements to sit down at the kitchen table. Her train of thought was completely lost, like it crawled away while she wasn't looking and she had no chance of finding it.

Biting her lip she shook her head and resumed her task of making dinner, three pieces of chicken simmering in a pot. Three, why three? There was just her and Paul, and they never ate enough to make three pieces. Her chest heaved a sigh as she turned the chicken, age was catching up to her.

There was still something nagging at her from the back of her mind, though. It felt as if a leach had attached itself to her memory, and everything was floating away. She certainly didn't like the feeling, but shook it off. Dinner wasn't going to cook itself and she would sell her soul before she ordered takeout.

She also ignored the reflection of blue eyes in the microwave, slowly fading to brown.

His head shot off the table with a gasping breath, chest heaving shakily. It took a moment for him to remember his surroundings. Taken by a scary lady who tazered him, mistaken for a wanted criminal and then left alone in an interrogation room. A normal Tuesday really, but all of his Tuesdays were shitty, along with all the other days of the week.

But back to the plot points, as stated somewhere previously, demigod dreams fucking sucked. The son of an ice giant did something to his mother, that was an offence that required either hanging or a new French invention from three hundred years ago. No one touches his fucking mother. He needed to get the fuck out of here.

"Hey! Acronym Douchebags! I want my phone call." They better answer, he had been in this room long enough for him to wake up from being tazered, be interrogated and then have a nightmare about the Kirsten Stuart and Hitler's Lovechild™. He felt like he was forcefully snorting a kilo of cocaine with how jittery he was. Fuck demigod powers and their fucking side effects.

He sunk down in his seat and waited impatiently, tapping his foot obnoxiously loud. He could feel his nostrils flaring at the force of his exhale. He refused to have a mental breakdown in the middle of this shitty interrogation room, which, he had the feeling was intentionally shitty just to create the atmosphere of hopelessness. It was fucking working because guess fucking what? He felt pretty fucking hopeless.

"Percy, calm down." He opened his eyes to the face of the fucking scary chick. That wasn't something that made him feel better. She looked like she had much better things to do than be catering to his worthless needs, to which he didn't agree to much.

"I'm fucking calm, calm and cool as a frozen lake. This ice ain't cracking, no inexperienced ice fishers are dying today bitches." Her lip didn't twitch this time, which honestly just hurt his feelings.

"Why do you want to make a phone call? Warn your friends of questionable professions that you're currently incarcerated?" She questioned eye brows raised, something he knew was such a fucking manipulating tactic.

"Look I'm going to be frank with you because I'm really on edge right now and a bit pissed off. I just had a dream of our little friend the less slutty Gangus Khan messing with my mother. The mother that I haven't graced with my presence in a while. The point that comes real close to becoming copyright of The Book Of Mormon, the shitty things I dream are real." She stared at him for a moment before sighing and unlocking his handcuffs from the table.

"You better not be fucking with me, I've had enough shit to deal with today." He rolled his eyes.

"You'd know if I was fucking with you, I'm a terrible actor, taunting is more my game. I thinks it's the ADHD that makes it easier to come up with scathing insults." She gripped his cuffs and shoved him out of the interrogation room. "Where are we going?"

"We," She glance up at the cameras in the hallway, "Are going to do some investigating, because this god has had his bag of tricks shoved up my ass for too long."

"Huh." His eyes furrowed.

"What now? Need a bathroom break?" She hissed under her breath.

"No, well yes, but that's not the point. You trust me? Just like that?" She stared at his face for a few moments, before turning around and pulling him along like a more functionally rag doll.

"Bad men usually don't take the time to worry about their mothers, neither do they have panic attacks over said mothers well being. You are not on our database for any crimes other than disorderly conduct a couple years ago and parking tickets, and you were cleared from the accused terrorism when you were twelve. You are a civilian with no criminal record, nor do we have any reason or ability to keep you past the federal mandated holding time, which has past. You are no longer in our custody and that means were going to investigate your mothers house under the pretense that I am providing you safe passage off the facility, as protocol mandates." He opened his mouth to reply but was cut off sharply as she pulled him along and shoved a blindfold onto his face.

"You remind me of my old girlfriend, she was scary too. She's dead now and that still makes me sad, but you remind me of her." He couldn't see the spy's reaction, but that didn't matter, he knew it had to be amused.

"Being compared to a dead girlfriend isn't going to get you anywhere, and here I was thinking you were smooth." He chuckled with as much mirth as he could muster.

"Yeah, no, I stopped playing for that team a long time ago, when I told that guy he could suck my ass last year, I bet you if he knew I was serious he would've been in a lot less pain." He could hear  her eyebrows raising.

"Good to know for future preparations, the tight cat suit tends to distract men from their original objectives. I find that the specific skill set is more useful for men who can appreciate it." He grinned.

"Just because I don't swing that way doesn't mean that I can't appreciate it." He needed to shut his mouth before he fucked this us.

"Don't make me taze you Jackson." Her voice went from it's alluring, crisp tone to venomous. He gulped.

"Wouldn't dream of it."

---

So, protocol ended up being unceremoniously shoved into a car and left to flail around with handcuffed hands at every bump and turn. He could tell it was new York traffic by how unbearably slow it was.

"Can I at least know where were going?" He groaned into the seat cushion, after being thrown in a short stop.

"Where the evidence lies Mr. Jackson. You wanted to call your mother, I'm doing you one better." He groaned again, but with no verbal affirmation.

"She's going to hate me, I haven't talked to her in months, I haven't seen her since I shipped off to the army. I'm a terrible person." The last sentence was muffled by leather.

"Agreed, that's a shitty thing to do Jackson, but I think what the importance of this mission is, is the question of how you're going to fix it." She spoke like she was speaking to a toddler, but no. who she was dealing with was worse. Children can learn.

"There is going to be lots of yelling, and apologies, and yelling." He rolled over onto his back to sit up but she pressed the breaks again and he shot forward, falling into thee crevice between the seats, his arms pinned behind him painfully.

"You should know that yelling is better than silence." She replied sharply.

"I hate you."

"Noted."

The next thirty minuets were spent listening to Taylor Swift and the occasional car honk with him losing feeling in his arm, until she pulled over and The Scary Assassin Chick™ opened the backseat door and pulled off his blindfold and what was left of his fragile masculinity.

"I don't feel safe in this relationship." She rolled her eyes.

" Get out of the car Jackson." She barked.

"Yep."

The walk up to his mother's apartment was nerve wracking to say the least. He could feel his heart pumping in his chest, to hard to be anything other than unhealthy. He had defeated monsters forty times larger than him, and he was scared to talk to his mother? He could do it, it wasn't like she would hate him. Even if she chopped his head off, he could never hate her. He just hoped that that feeling flowed both ways.

"Let me make contact first . We are unaware of the situation." Spoke as the approached that door, he clenched his jaw and nodded.

She stared at him for a moment analyzing him, before knocking  on the door assertively and falling into stiff posture.

The moments of waiting were agony, leaning against the door down the hall and watching from the corner of his eye as the edge of the door peeked open. He tried to control his breathing but fail miserably.

"Hello there, is this the Blofis-Jackson residence?" His mom's face peaked out of the crack and held no trace of a smile that he remembered. Her face had aged a bit since he last saw her, deeper laugh lines around her eyes and sprinkles of gray inside her hair.

 "Yes, yes it is. How may I help you?" Her voice was the same, smooth, soothing. He closed his eyes like he could listen to it all day.

"I am here on behalf of The Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division, also known as S.H.I.E.L.D. In disclosure of your son." He held his breath at her reaction, but nothing came.

"Excuse me? Is this some kind of joke?" The tone coming out of her mouth was all wrong, it wasn't denial, it was confusion,

"Your son, Percy Jackson." Her voice wavered. Sally laughed humorlessly.

"I'm sorry to waste your time, miss. I don't have a son." She politely shut the door in her face, which really should have been impossible.

She always did the impossible

He cuffed his hand around his mouth to try to control his breathing. Why couldn't he breathe? His breath turned ragged and his eyes watered, body shaking. Natasha ran over to him as his legs collapsed under him.

"Percy! Hey Percy look at me, it's ok." Natasha tried to calm him down uselessly. He looked up to her, jaw quivering.

"He made her forget me." He clenched his jaw to stop the shaking. No one touched her without dying, she was off limits. She was all he had left and she wasn't about to have that taken away, not by anyone.

"That assholes going to pay."









Chapter Text

Life was a fickle thing, he thought after the fact.

It twists and turns, never ending up where anyone expects. People except this as fact, that life is difficult and no one knows what to do. They already expect going into adulthood, life was going to fuck them over one way or another. The phrases like 'You only live once', or 'Life is a gift' made it all the more apparent.

But life wasn't a gift, live was a prison sentence, or at least that was what it felt like. They all know that life will deal them the shit stick, so they want to make up for it in a misspent youth filled with transparent fun which covered up the fact that they would never feel joy again.

That was what life never felt like for him, it seemed. Fun. He doubted that it ever would again. He wasn't complaining, but simply pointing out the same pattern that already repeated several times. Love, loose, repeat. He loved, then he lost. One of these days he wouldn't have anything else left to loose. Which he had an inkling of a feeling that it was the current repetition which would finally end it. A man has hits limits after all.

The search for the apparent Norse god had run cold, it seemed like he showed up every few months to cause chaos, death and destruction, and then he vanishes into thin air. At least according to twitter, that was how it happened. The one interaction he had had with him was all, and then he had never saw him again. It was like backpedaling, traveling in reverse and he had done that to himself.

Then again, he really didn't have a purpose anymore, and didn't know if he would ever be able to handle the pressure of being the hero. He had this thought in his mind that he would finally get it together once he had gotten the nerve to go and actually see his mom. That chance was stolen from him like everything else in his life. To loose was a way of life, he supposed.

That night after the agent had released him and then never contacted him again, he stared into his fridge for what could have been hour. The fact that there was a 6 pack case of Budweiser and a half drank bottle of some sort of hard liquor he couldn't remember buying, that and two slices of craft American cheese. He stared at them for so long he started not to care that he was happy about the fact that this was longest time he had been sober in a year, or the fact that he hadn't ate in 2 days.

He picked up the bottle of liquor, not even caring what off brand, cheap poison it was. Even coming from the fridge, it felt warm in his hands. They were shaking. He was shaking. He unscrewed the cap and tried to chug it down like medicine that he know deep down wouldn't fix any of his problems, but it burned unlike anything he ever felt on the way down. Like acid that his stomach refused to accept and he immediately threw up into the sink.

He was crying, he knew, when he threw the bottle at the wall. When he grabbed the 6 beers and lobbed them at the wall, a piece rebounded and put a deep cut into his cheek, he couldn't care. He didn't feel numb, didn't want to feel numb anymore. The numbness seemed like a default to resort back to, but know it stung like an alarm clock that played the same song every morning, the song, even then, starts to feel like acid, burning down their throat. No, he didn't want to feel numb, but he didn't know whether feeling like this was any better.

That feeling you get when you can't stop crying.

The panic. The seize of the chest. No one is around, no one to cry to. it's a cry hoping others would be there, but they're not. They never were.

Wasn't that life really? Finding someone to cry to, and then losing that and then finding someone, something else. An endless cycle of losing and gaining momentum until everything stops and everything is still.

Still...still. Slowed down to a stop. Cold and dead. Maybe absolute zero, where in the coldest temperature, everything stops still.

He sure knew dead, and cold. Felt it on his skin, like a frozen wind ripping away his skin. Cold as a tomb, seeping into his bones and throwing icy tendrils in his vein, grasping to reach his heart and suffocate him.

He couldn't breathe, like his head was underwater but he couldn't breathe through it. As if he were at home and the home became a warzone, a hurricane, fearful, empty.

His life was empty and he had nothing to show what he had done. Save Olympus, sure. Save the world, whatever. None of it mattered, he didn't matter. He couldn't even save the things that mattered most to him. He couldn't even save himself!

He was screaming, crying and screaming. Those two were intertwined, bound together. One entity defined by agony.

The wind picked up in the shithole apartment, and icy rain surrounding him in sheets like a miniature thunderstorm. The couch scraped against the floor with the sound like nails on a chalkboard as it was flung back against the wall. Paint peeled off the walls in pieces along with glass that flung itself across the wind in deadly imitations of rain.

The edges of his vision began to blacken. Numb, if felt numb. He didn't want to feel the numbness, not anymore. Never again.

Percy.

A voice, smooth, dangerous. A voice like ice on a freeway. Looking normal, but then the black ice comes and makes it hell. The voice that you slip and fall to, not knowing until your already on the ground.

He knew that voice. That voice haunted his nightmares.

"Get out of my head!" He screamed.

The windows blew out, like an explosion that littered glass down onto the street 5 stories below.

Percy, stop.

"Get out! Get out!" His voice was hoarse, thick and full of loathing, desperate loathing.

You're hurting them.

Everything stood still, you're hurting them. Who was he hurting? What? You're hurting them.

And then he looked around. The walls of peeling paint, the smashed windows. The panicked screams weren't just his own. You're hurting them. He was hurting someone, someone innocent. The people that lived in the building.

You're hurting yourself, Percy.

He sunk down the wall, curling his knees to his chest.

The world was crumbling to dust, because despite the man being a murderous psychopath, he was right about one thing.

He closed his eyes and tried to breathe, deep and forceful.

He put his head on his knees and sobbed.

Crumbling.







Chapter Text

Two weeks later.

"I don't understand." He furrowed his brows. It made absolutely no sense. None. Zip. Nada. Zilch.

The other mans lips quirked upward, sharing a quick moment of amusement with himself and himself alone. 

"Nothing you said made any sense, you are crazy." That seemed to amuse the other man even more, which made for an infuriating burn in his chest.

Then the other man spoke, voice smooth and words like acid, but like arsenic which was tasteless, colorless. Words that would kill you without a sign and with no mercy. "I have a feeling that you don't have room to talk in calling me crazy."

"Do you even know how many people you killed with your little rampage all over the city? And what? You plead that you were being controlled?" Loki's nostrils flared, which gave him more satisfaction then he was hoping for. "I'm sorry Mr. Malfoy, that Voldemort's whims were too strong."

It gave him even more satisfaction when Loki gave him a confused expression. He didn't know many pop culture references himself, but he was pretty sure Harry Potter was universal by now.

"I have no idea what you speak of, but I can tell you everything I spoke of was the truth. I was controlled by the Mad Titan with the mind stone's corruption. Now that my brother and his merry band of costumed glory seekers have the scepter, I am no longer under it's influence. Now that my brother thinks I am dead, no longer am I bound by any sort of man or stone."

"You destroyed the city, invaded aliens and killed hundreds, if not thousands, of people," He gritted his teeth for a moment before he yelled to loudly and caused them to be kicked out of the diner. "And for some goddamn reason my mother doesn't remember who I am."

Loki shifted in his seat. Good.

"She was too vulnerable, the Mad Titan has allies who can sift through memories and destroy everything you hold dear. That was for your safety along with your mothers. I did what I had to, to keep you safe." Loki trailed off.

Percy's eyebrows rose. He was still angry. He burned with it. A constant tug in his gut that made it feel like everything was wrong. Like he had stepped into an alternate reality where he was sitting in a café with a Norse god who was begging for his forgiveness for a reason which was still very unclear. Though, not much had changed, the only thing was that it was Norse this time.

"Please then, tell me why protecting me was so important in your impaired, mind controlled state where you can conveniently no longer be held against for your actions. Please I'd like to know." He practically growled.

Acting particularly ungodly, he slumped in his seat and taken a large gulp of the ice water placed on table. A bead of condensation traveled down the glass cup, his eyes following it's movement. Loki set the glass and avoided Percy's prying eyes.

"It's not important." Percy's frowned deepened.

"Like hell it's not important. It's the most important part of this entire conversation. How the hell you know who I am, why you care, and who the hell you think you are budging into my pitiful burnout life."  In all honesty, he had had enough of the gods meddling with his life before he even took a step into camp.

He chuckled, which was sort of unsettling on his face, like he didn't know any form of laughter other than snorting or sinister grins. "You are not a burnout, Perseus Jackson."

Percy leaned forward, bracing his elbows on the table. "If I'm not a burnout, a loser, than what am I? I peaked in my teens, it was shit then and it only went downhill. I certainly not important enough to save, not anymore."

The other man regarded him for a moment, pursing his lips. Well, it seemed to him that the great Loki, master of lies, was at a loss of words. He didn't blame the man though, if there was one thing that he kept in his skillset it was the fact that he was great at pissing people off. 

"One thing that you taught me is everyone can be saved. Some can have redemption..." The other man trailed off, still not meeting his eyes.

"How would I teach you anything? We've met once, maybe twice before." Everything about the god of lies was confusing. He thought his life was fuck up...well it still was, but being controlled sucked and he knew it. Like when Leo had fired upon the roman camp possessed by a spirit. 

"You are not just known among the Greeks, Perseus. Your adventures have traveled far beyond the nine realms. There have been plays in Asgard depicting your victories. You can never disappear fully, you have etched yourself so deeply in the fabric of life that you can never stop being a part of it." Loki stopped there and then stared at him, and Percy really wished that he hadn't, because he had nothing to say. He was staring with this look of expectancy, like he was waiting for some marvelous show of humility and power. The humility that was etched away by years of death and suffering and the power that he did not feel that he deserved.

"I haven't taught anyone anything for a long time, Loki. I'm not the hero I used to be, not anymore. I can try and I can suffer and I can die for what I think is right but none of that can make that feeling inside me go away. I think everyone I love is nearly gone now, and it's not even their fault. I pushed them all away." He swallowed.

"You are a hero." Loki responded, not all unkindly.

"I was offered immortality once. After I helped in the defeat of Kronos. I turned it down, and I'm still glad that I did, but I wish I had known that whether I did or not, it would turn out just as miserable. So what, I'm a hero, fine. What does it matter?" I slammed my fist against the counter, making it jump and Loki nearly flinched.

"It matters because you saved the world twice, and I was hoping that you would be willing to do it again." 

They both stared at each other for a long time. Percy's face went stony, cold. Loki for once in his life showing some manipulative vulnerability.

"Why?" The other man swallowed, like he didn't expect it to be this hard.

"I figured you wouldn't be able to stay away for long, and would like a head start." With his smooth voice, but with words like arsenic. Poisonous, deadly. 

Percy stood up abruptly, the chair screeching on the floor, and walked out. Loki's eyes following his back. The other man sighed, muttering about dramatic humans (though he had no room to talk) and paying for the meal than leaving a considerably large tip. He may have been a liar, murderer and overall generally an asshole, but he wasn't a monster. 

-

Percy couldn't remember the last time he had saw the ocean, it had been a while. He could go on and make some connection to homage and the meaning of his existence in connection to the sea, but he was too tired. He wondered when his life stopped making sense, when it stopped having meaning, but thinking meant that he had to suffer the woe of his damnable stupidity. So he didn't think, he just watched the waves ebb and flow from the shore. Maybe if he did that ling enough, he would forget the world. 

He didn't want to be a hero anymore, but it seemed that he didn't have much left in him to be anything. Not doing anything had left him empty and most importantly, drunk. Even when he had gotten hurt, suffered at the hands of helping people, it made him feel more alive than he had been since his friends died and he disappeared from the world he held to his heart and risked his life to protect. 

He hadn't been in water in a long time, maybe it was because he thought that he could escape himself if he scratched away the part of him that mattered the most. The immortal blood that had gotten  him into more trouble than he could bare. 

The cool breeze caressed his skin, it felt like home. He hadn't had a home in a while. He stuck his hands in his pockets to fight the cold seeping into his fingertips, and his fingers brushed the edge of Riptide. That had never left him, and he knows why know, because the part of him that was a hero never really left. If the world was in danger, than who was he to refuse to help it. 

The dug his toes in the sand and started to walk forward, toward the waves. He felt the water, freezing and amazing around his ankles, the small crushed sea shells pressing into the heels of his feet. He kept going until the water was well above his head, and then he closed his eyes and felt the rhythm of the waves and undercurrents pull him out to sea.

"You are a hero ." 

He breathed in the water. He would admit, Loki was an asshole, murderer, and everything in between, but he was also right. He wasn't going to be able to stay away for long, he had been away from home long enough.

For the first time in a long time, he prayed.

-

He packed his shit up in a beat up duffle, the origins of said duffle he couldn't remember with a gun up to his head. Clothes, shoes, toothbrush, shampoo. He didn't have a phone and sold his couch on Craigslist for 100 bucks from an account made on a library computer. 

He said one last goodbye to his shithole apartment. That was a lie, he slammed the door and flipped it the bird on the way down the hall. 

He didn't know where he was going, he didn't care, but he wasn't going to be this enigma of hate and loneliness anymore. He let his feet carry him around the city, and he must have been walking for hours when he finally stopped and sat down on a bench in central park. 

He remembered when Nico had brought him here to enter the underworld, receiving the invulnerable skin. Nico... He wondered if he was still alive, overcome with an unbearable amount of shame because if he would have been around he would know. 

He didn't know how he could walk back into their life and a be friends again, not after leaving them. He couldn't just turn up on the doorstep of Camp Half-blood and pretend he never left, but one could dream. So yeah, he was ashamed of himself, because he was supposed to be a hero and the only person he saved was himself, and he didn't even do that right. Fate said that one day loyalty would one day kill him, but how could he live with the fact that he had only been loyal to himself?

"There is no way-"

"He looks so similar."

"Oh come on guys, it's not him, don't kid yourself, he's been gone for years."

His head snapped up as he trailed the end of a group of tree teens having a conversation, two girls and one boy. He made the mistake of making eye contact with one of them and she turned pink and averted her eyes. 

"If your so sure, why don't you ask him." One of them suggested, whoever it was he hoped to god it was the one whose ideas were usually ignored, like him.

"Fine then!" The other teen snapped, she was the one who he had made eye contact with earlier. 

He knew that this was not going to be a nice experience for him, oh gods...

She made a step towards him before shooting a scathing look back at her friends. She bore an uncanny resemblance to a daughter of Athena, which he tried to ignore the twinge I his heart at that.

She approached with all the confidence of a socially awkward teen, so to say, none, sitting next to him on the park bench. She opened her mouth twice before closing it again and biting her lip. He decided to take pity on her.

"I don't think I've ever met a daughter of Athena so hesitant to ask a question." He commented with his lips tipped into a grin. Her trepidation turned into outrage like a strike of lightning.

"Well excuse me, that is a horrible stereotype. That's like saying all children of Ares are bullies or all  sons of Apollo are airheads. I resent that. I have social anxiety, fuck you." She looked mad at his amused expression before realizing what she had just said to him.

"I mean-sir. Fuck you sir-I mean not fuck you-well," He cut her off with a chuckle.

"I have been called sir twice in my life and in both times it was by people attempting to kill me. My names Percy, but, well it seems that you already knew that." He cocked her head at her. "What's your name."

She shifted, embarrassed. "Antigone, but people call me Tig."

He nodded and smiled. "It's a good name to have. Tragic origins, but remained with loyalty and integrity till the end. Wish I could say the same."

She grinned at him, he felt a thousand times better. "My dad was a history professor, named me after her thinking that I would have a better luck living life on my own terms."

"I think my mom had the same idea when she named me, a hero with a happy ending. I haven't died yet so that has to count for something." He remarked sliding his eyes over to her. "Say, I've been out of the loop for a long time, call it running away, being an asshole, idiot, and any other horrible synonym. Think you can loop me in, Tig?"

She looked at him for a moment, quizzical, before turning to her friends standing off to the side and waved them over. The other two looked at each other surprised before hesitantly coming to stand beside Tig. 

"This is Nox," she gestured to the other girl with dark eyes, Asian tan skin and ebony hair which was cut pixie style. "and this is Marcus." Then to a dark skinned boy whose keen blue eyes seemed to bore into everything. 

"Hello Nox," he gave her a nod. "Marcus."

Nox tilted her head to Tig in question, Tig answered.

"It's him."

"And you know that for sure?" Marcus' eyebrowed were raised. "He could be lying."

"How could I possibly be positive? He looks like he did in the pictures, he answered with the correct name. I don't know him, so I couldn't possibly know. You want me to ask for him for his social security number?" 

Nox looked like she could be considering it. He decided to cut in.

"I'd venture a guess with your parents." He didn't try to hold back a grin. "But I've already learned from you friend here that in doing it I could be very offensive."

Nox didn't look impressed, but answered nonetheless. "Aphrodite, and he's a son of Mercury."

He nodded. "Glad I didn't venture a guess, I was never really good at it." He shrugged. "So, like I said to Tig, you could say I've been out of the loop for a while, I was hoping you might be able to fill me in."

Marcus looked to Tig, who looked to Nox, who nodded. "Sure, whatever." He didn't miss being a teenager.

He grinned. "Let's take a walk, yeah?" He stood up and dusted off his jeans, picking up his duffle. He started to walk and didn't look back to see if they followed. If they didn't, well he was a bit of an asshole. 

Tig took a step to be beside him, and Nox and Marcus on the other side. "Anything big happen in the years I've been gone?" 

Nox shook her head. "I'm not sure how it was before you left, but in the years we've been there it's been pretty quiet, at both camps. New Rome has Reyna and Frank as elected praetors and then there's Jason who does a program to provide transportation to kids who want to travel between camps to see their friends. He was your friend right?"

He swallowed, hard. "Yeah, yeah he was." 

"There was that drama with Demeter a couple years back, when she turned that daughter of Apollo into a nightshade plant because he called her an old hag." Marcus commented, grinning. "That was hilarious."

He could imagine it, Demeter being called an old hag while eating a bowl of cereal. He snorted.

"Do you know anything about Nico? Nico DiAngelo? I-I-didn't exactly leave him on the best of terms. I actually recall him calling me a coward, but with that dark glare that he gets from his father, the one wher-" Tig cuts it.

"You feel like your being dragged into hell?" He grinned so hard his face hurt.

"That's the one. I take it he's doing ok?" He didn't deny he sounded hopeful.

"He and Will got married a few years back, Nico still teaches sword fighting and Will's the camp head Medic." She answered.

"Good....that really good." He looked down, trying to imagine what he looked like now. Less like death, more like deadly. Older, stronger.

"Percy." Marcus called his name. "I couldn't help but notice the bag. Headed somewhere?" 

He shrugged, "I don't think I'm going anywhere, just wondering for now. Attempting to get my head out of my ass and do something about it."

Marcus didn't comment on that with pity, but with excitement. "Well you see, we are going to camp tomorrow, school ended last month but we were holding off going to spend some time with our families. Did you want to come with us? "

Nox, shot Marcus a glare, but Tig squealed with excitement. 

He wondered whether it would still be his home after so many years away. He knew it wouldn't be the same, nothing would ever be the same, but it didn't have to be. It just had to be his. 

"You know what? I think I might take you up on that."

-

"I told you so." That asshole. 

He looked to Loki, how had appeared next to him, smug. 

"Yeah, you did."

Loki looked please, which contrasted with the knife he was cleaning his nails with. 

"I'll be in contact then, the worlds going to need a hero after all." He vanished. 

Such an asshole, whatever.

He picked up the duffle from where he had dropped it on the ground and swung it over his shoulder, walking towards the teens. 

For once in his life, things were looking up.