Jagnus || Shadowhunters || Nicercy || Taken Its Toll On Me || Nicercy || PJatO || Jagnus
Title: Taken Its Toll On Me – Finding Help to Recover
Fandoms: Percy Jackson and the Olympians | Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments
Disclaimer: All rights to the Percy Jackson books reserved to Rick Riordan for he created the awesomeness that is Nico di Angelo. All rights to the Shadowhunters show reserved to Ed Decter, the books the show is based off and its characters belong to Cassandra Clare. This fanfiction on the other hand is entirely mine. No money is made with this, though reviews are more than welcomed.
Warnings: m/m, PTSD, hurt/comfort, protective Percy, m/f
Main Pairings: Magnus/Jace & Nico/Percy
Side Pairings: Chris/Clarisse, Charles/Silena
Shadowhunters Characters: Jonathan Christopher 'Jace' Herondale, Magnus Bane
Percy Jackson Characters: Perseus Jackson, Nico di Angelo, Charles Beckendorf, Silena Beauregard, Chris Rodriguez, Clarisse la Rue, Reyna Avila Ramírez-Arellano, Leo Valdez
Summary: Percy di Angelo runs a self-help group for people with PTSD. He takes a shining to the newest member of their group; Jace Herondale. Only that he needs some coaxing.
Taken Its Toll On Me
Finding Help to Recover
Percy was humming to himself as he set the cupcakes and brownies on the table, adjusting everything. It was stupid, probably. For him to still be fidgety about this. He has been holding those meetings for nearly two years now. But with every newbie, he would grow nervous again. He wanted them to feel comfortable, at ease, welcomed, safe.
"Bro—ownies. Percy, I love you. Can you please divorce your husband and marry me?"
Percy smiled and turned to look at the short Latino having his chin resting on Percy's shoulder. Leo had been on the bomb-squad. They had shipped out together once before. He had been among the first members of Percy's little group. A self-help group for people with PTSD.
There was Charles, a former marine who still had flashbacks of the time the ship had exploded – been attacked – and he had died for a short moment. Had drowned. The fear of water was still there.
Next to him sat Clarisse, who barely ever shared, who was mainly there for the others. Somehow, it helped her to hear the stories of others and to be with others. Mainly, she was there for her husband though. Clarisse's husband Chris, who had been driven mad in captivity from terrorists. He had spent months in a mental hospital, trying to find himself. Clarisse supported him through it all and so she also came along to the meetings. Not to mention she had her own share of issues.
Reyna was the last of the regulars, a rather quiet woman. Her father had served and suffered and made his daughters suffer from his untreated trauma. She had followed in his footsteps, becoming a soldier, but when she realized the burden became too much, she did seek help.
Those were Percy's regulars. Percy, Leo, Clarisse, Chris, Charles and Reyna. They had been the core for three years now. Others came and go. Some only for short periods of times. Some frequented various groups and only dropped in on theirs once a month or so.
Percy had started this group to help himself. He had come back from war and he had suffered a lot. The nightmares, the panic-attacks. He carried all that baggage and he didn't want to share it. He couldn't burden his mom or his brother or his best friend. His old commander, Luke Castellan, he had suggested it. To find others with the same burden, to share. At first, Percy had tagged along with Luke. After two years, he started his own group.
It helped him cope with his own problems. To help others. Helping others had always helped him.
The other liked to call him the group mom. And okay, fair enough, he liked to hover and worry and help to the best of his abilities. Especially whenever the group had a newbie.
The group currently had a newbie. Jace. And that was literally all Percy knew about the brooding blonde. He kept to himself, didn't even talk during coffee breaks, before or after the meetings. Never shared. Just... sat there, staring at the ground and listening to the others.
And okay, fair enough. Most newbies didn't talk during the first couple of meetings. Percy himself hadn't spoken up for weeks when he had first started attending meetings. Still, Percy found himself wondering about the kid. Though, 'kid' was being used loosely here. Jace was at the max five years younger than Percy. Definitely early twenties, maybe even mid-twenties.
"Okay, can we get this meeting started before Leo eats everything again?", grunted Clarisse.
Leo grinned apologetically around the muffin stuffed into his mouth. Percy chuckled softly and went to take his seat between Clarisse and Charles. Everyone else slowly shuffled toward the chairs. Jace was already sitting, with his hands deep in his hoodie's pocket.
"Hello, guys", greeted Percy with a warm, friendly smile. "So, tonight, I'll start us off. I'm Percy and I have PTSD." The others grunted and grumbled their greetings. "And... I've been worrying my husband lately. Again. Didn't mean to. Never mean to. It's just been..."
Percy took a moment to sort his thoughts, leaning back in his chair and tilting his head to look up at the ceiling. "He's amazing, you know. He's never... been to war. But he's always there for me. But sometimes, I just feel like I am... burdening him. I don't mean to feel that way. I don't mean to shut him out. But when it's been a week of nightmares... flash... flashbacks, triggered by an old... friend of mine dying. I just figure not sleeping and thus not dreaming would be more effective than having nightmares and lashing out. I'm... still so afraid of that..."
Another pause, this time he ran his hands over his face and groaned softly. "One time, I was stuck in a really bad flashback. Nico woke me up and I just... wasn't there and I... I attacked him. And I am just so afraid of that. The... The flashbacks themselves, even the... death of my... I... I can cope. Somehow. But the idea of me hurting Nico again...? I can't... I just..." He took a shaky breath at that and shook his head. "You'd think five years after I stopped serving, I'd get better at confronting my problems... But sometimes... as Luke likes to say it, sometimes I'm still a dumb brat, I guess."
"What about the dreams?", asked Reyna gently, looking at him. "I mean. Get to the root of the problem to solve it, right? Get to the bottom of the dreams, stop the nightmares."
"Always so logical", muttered Percy and rolled his eyes. "I don't know. I just... I dream about those I lost. The comrades who had died while in my care..."
"It's not your responsibility to save everyone, Percy", grunted Charles seriously.
"Thank you", nodded Percy. "I know that. I mean, deep down my rational mind knows that."
Percy sighed. He knew it was going to take a while to fully calm his mind again, but he also knew he would. He was a former Navy SEAL and he had seen and done some things... But he was honorably discharged five years ago. Opened up a bakery, married the love of his life. Things were supposed to be better, but that wasn't how life worked. He couldn't just turn over a new leaf and expect the new chapter to be a blank slate. Everything that happened before in his life still affected him. The problem was dealing with it. His eyes found Jace, who still sat stiffly and quietly.
Tonight stood under a slightly different theme. Death. The own death.
"I just... in my nightmares, I don't wake up. Which is super weird, I mean how can you dream that? But I just... watch from the outside. I watch how they carry me off, my own funeral. See my friends, everyone... cry", muttered Leo. "I don't even know why. It just... happens sometimes. Like... guilt. Guilt that they managed to bring me back but not others. Honorable men and women who fought beside me. People whose caskets I helped carry. That's what the funeral always is in my dreams, like a best of from the different funerals I have attended in the past."
"Surviving is one thing. But dying and coming back", sighed Charles. "Fireworks are still the worst for me. Remind me of the explosion, when the ship exploded and I... died. Dying and being reanimated leaves you with so much... pressure. A second chance. Use it right."
"Had a lot of near-death experiences and that was already too much", muttered Chris, arms crossed over his chest as he shook back and forth some. "But you're always expected to bounce right back."
"Even from death itself", snorted Leo. "But how do you bounce back from dying?"
"You continue like it didn't happen."
Percy startled a little and turned to look at Jace. He had never spoken before. He still wasn't looking up, kept staring at the floor, little hunched over. Clarisse raised one eyebrow.
"You make it sound easier than it is", chuckled Leo casually.
Jace shrugged, still not looking up. "Can be, you just gotta... push through it."
There was a stretch of silence in which the group gave Jace the opportunity to talk more. But the blonde remained quiet, so the group moved on. Percy kept side-eyeing Jace curiously.
Tonight had been a long, slow day. Everyone was a little sluggish. Most had something to share. They were kind of looking forward to wrapping this up. Percy was looking forward to returning home to his husband. That was all he really needed at the moment. Charles had just recapped the time he had died. The week after the fourth of July. Always hard on him.
"Thinking of it as a second chance, being glad to be alive...", muttered Charles. "Some days that's hard. Some days... the darkest days... I wish they wouldn't have been able to bring me back. And then I see Silena, my beautiful and kind wife, and I feel so guilty for ever thinking that and it only spirals me down further..."
"It's okay, Charles", grunted Chris next to him. "We've all been there. The one you love can be your rock... but... when you're in the deep end, that rock can be what drags you down. Because you want to be good for them, better for them, but you aren't and you can't force the recovery."
"I felt like that a lot when I first came back", offered Percy after a beat. "When I left, my mom had been pregnant. When I actually returned home for the first time, my baby sister Laura was born and... she kept screaming whenever I was the only one near because she didn't know me. I had missed so much in the lives of those I love. My best friend Grover got married. My other best friend Annabeth, she had some huge start-up, was now a successful business woman. I felt so... disconnected from everything and like I was... sinking down... and no one... understood."
"Once you physically look good, you're supposed to be good. So you died? They brought you back. Now continue on with your life that it didn't happen", snorted Leo, sounding rather cynical.
Like said before, they were all stretched thin tonight. They all had their own tenseness tonight.
"That's why I never told them", muttered Jace.
"Never... told whom what?", asked Percy, tilting his head.
"My family. That I died", replied Jace, blinking a couple of times. "I... never told anyone. That I died. But... But I did. I was dead for two minutes."
"You... want to talk about it, buddy?", asked Leo. "You're not the only one in this room who died. Sometimes, serving means laying your life and then... learning to live with it. "Where'd it happen?"
"I wasn't... I didn't...", started Jace and shook his head. "It... happened in my father's backyard. He stabbed me. I died. My... sister, who turned out not to be my sister, managed to revive me before the paramedics arrived. And... I figured it'd be easier to just not tell anyone so they wouldn't fuss."
"I'm sorry, but when you say 'he' stabbed you...", started Reyna with a frown.
"My father", offered Jace and paused. "Who... was never actually my father, but rather the man who kidnapped me as a baby and raised me as his own."
"Well, shit", muttered Leo beneath his breath.
Percy waited for a long moment, to see if Jace had anything more to say. He didn't.
Percy sighed contently, closing his eyes as he sank deeper in the bathtub, bubbles smelling of roses surrounding him. His husband behind him had his arms wrapped around Percy's waist, holding him close and kissing his neck gently. Especially after long and exhausting days like today, Percy really appreciated how caring and gentle and comforting and amazing his husband was.
"I lo—ove you", groaned Percy happily. "Everyone should have their own Nico, you know? Everyone deserves a Nico who pampers them and makes them feel loved..."
Nico chuckled fondly, tracing Percy's six-pack with his fingers. "I love you too, amore."
Smiling lazily, Percy cuddled up to Nico and enjoyed the hot bath. "You know, I... I think I finally got Jace all figured out, Neeks..."
"All figured out, huh?", echoed Nico amused, playing with Percy's hair. "How so, gattino?"
"He shared for the first time today... and... I think I know why he's never shared before", replied Percy. "I think it's because all of us are soldiers, or former soldiers. And... I think his PTSD doesn't come from having ever served and that's why he doesn't speak up."
"Feeling out of place", hummed Nico in acknowledgment. "What's the strategy?"
Percy smiled faintly, craning his neck so Nico could continue kissing it. "Changing the theme of the meeting. I've been... avoiding to talk about certain stuff because I got it buried so deep, but I guess it's worth it to dig that out to get him to open up..."
Nico looked concerned for a moment, so Percy craned his neck enough to kiss him reassuringly.
"I'd like to open today's meeting", started Percy and shifted around a little. "I... never really talked about how I... came to become a Navy SEAL to begin with."
"Oh, it's an origin story episode", whistled Leo with a small grin.
Percy rolled his eyes fondly at his old friend, elbowing him lightly. "When I was six, my mother... got married to a truly horrible man. An abusive man. Physically and verbally. He beat me up, but those things... heal. What really left a scar was how he always put me down. Called me dumb and useless to the point that I believed it. I was a bad student, because I never really believed in myself. Not academically. Not that I would ever... achieve anything. I was twelve when we got rid of him and I started to... reclaim myself, slowly."
He paused for a long moment, wringing his hands. "I... I learned more about my father, my biological father. He was a marine, died at sea before I was born. I guess... I wanted to... explore my roots, in a way. I wanted to shake it off. To prove myself."
Silence stretched on as Reyna made eye-contact with Percy, slightly inquisitive. They had had each other's back through missions before, they knew how to read each other. She got the hint.
"I know what that feels like. My father, he... he went insane, he never really got over his own demons. And it scared me so much as a child. He was never... intentionally abusive. He wasn't a bad person. He just... never got the help he needed", stated Reyna slowly. "And I know that shaped me."
More silence followed and Leo cleared his throat. "My mom died in an explosion when I was a kid. I... stayed a while... with my aunt. Abusive aunt. Shitty home. Kept blaming me for... for what had happened to my mother. In the end, I guess, I joined the bomb-squad to... prevent what had happened to my mom. Stop it before there could be a lethal explosion."
Percy very carefully watched Jace, curious to see if the blonde would finally share. Jace was chewing his lip and looking up nearly shyly. He looked around the room tentatively.
"There was a crazy man and he... he and his wife got divorced and she kept their son. So he went and... murdered my parents and kept me. Made me believe I'm his son", whispered Jace softly. "He... hurt me. Trained me to be the perfect... soldier. He was crazy, talking about the apocalypse, how we would have to fight to reclaim to—He was insane. And he hurt me. A... lot."
"He... killed you. You said that before", nudged Reyna gently. "When... you were a child?"
"No", muttered Jace and shook his head, frowning. "He had a cult and when I was ten, he had to disappear from the radar again because the FBI was hot on his heels. Faked his death. Left me. I got... adopted. And... years later, when his cult was... reformed... he came to track me down. Abducted me. ...Tortured me. Tried to force me to 'see the light' and join him. When I didn't, when I... when I refused... he decided to kill me instead."
Percy swallowed hard at that. That boy really needed the group. And he was glad that Jace had finally decided to open up. He hoped Jace would continue sharing with them. Percy's focus remained on Jace even as the meeting continued and others shared. Afterward, when everyone lingered around to eat the baked goods, drink coffee and talk about more pleasant topics, Percy tentatively approached Jace. The blonde was nibbling on a cookie.
"If I... may say something...", started Percy softly. "You never shared before because you felt... out of place with us, right? Soldiers, sharing about our service. But your trauma... is different. That doesn't mean you don't belong here. You clearly have suffered a trauma and with that alone, you belong with us, because we all have suffered. The how doesn't matter. You have a place here and... we will support you, as best as we can."
He rested a hand on Jace's shoulder and squeezed gently. Jace looked at him with doubt before he nodded, not really voicing what he thought of this. Percy knew he'd have to give the boy time.
"Dinner was absolutely lovely, Percy", smiled Silena charmingly.
She elegantly collapsed on the couch and allowed for Percy to hand her a glass of wine. Their husbands followed suit, laughing as they talked about something. Nico smiled and sat down next to Percy and kissed him gently while Charles took his seat next to Silena.
"Dinner was only lovely because my amazing cook of a husband made it", grinned Percy.
"Flattery will get you everywhere", chuckled Nico, arms wrapped around Percy's waist.
"So, I heard that you adopted a new stray, Percy", inquired Silena curiously.
She rested a hand on Charles' thigh, grasping his hand as he chuckled. "Yes, I rattled you out, Perce. You've been quite a mother-bear with Jace."
"I just... want to help", shrugged Percy with the smallest pout. "And he... needs it."
"He can be glad to have you trying to help him", smiled Silena, looking at him gently. "You've helped so many people by now, Percy. And... anyone who has received your help... knows how valuable that is. Even if you're having a hard time getting through to him, I know it'll be worth it and I know he'll learn to see that too, if given time."
"Your word in, well, Jace's ear", laughed Percy and shook his head.
"You could bring him over for dinner some time", suggested Nico, kissing Percy's shoulder. "I know a good home-cooked meal helps easing people up. And it might help him feel more... welcomed by you. Oh, don't look at me like that. If I weren't up to the task of taking in strays, I would have never gotten married to this one."
"I feel so loved right now", grumbled Percy with a pout.
"You better. I wouldn't allow troubled strangers into my home if I didn't love you", huffed Nico.
"Mh, fair point", grinned Percy pleased, snuggling into his husband's embrace.
Over the following weeks, Jace started opening up to the group. Sharing details about his childhood and the torture he had suffered when being re-abducted by the mad man. All Percy wanted to do was wrap the kid up in a fluffy blanket and make him cocoa. It took two months for Percy to actually get to the point of wrapping the kid up in a fluffy blanket and make him cocoa.
"Mini marshmallows", grunted Jace amused, sipping his cocoa.
"Ye—eah. I'm a child at heart", grinned Percy as he sat down next to Jace.
"Max... Max loves mini marshmallows", chuckled Jace. "I always put them in for him."
Max. One of Jace's adopted siblings. He had told Percy and the group about them and how they had welcomed him and helped him overcome his childhood, more or less. But it got worse, after the second abduction. He shut off, shut his siblings out after. Didn't tell them about what the man had done to him, never mentioned having died. That was when Alec and Izzy had teamed up on him and pleaded with him to go and get help. Apparently, Izzy's fiance Simon had suggested group meetings, because his mother was a recovering alcoholic and meetings had helped her a lot.
"Thanks, for having me over", muttered Jace, running his fingers through his hair.
"It's.. okay, Jace", assured Percy with a gentle smile.
The two had grown close, had become friends. Jace was living with his older adopted brother Alec, but Alec had left for a well-deserved vacation with his boyfriend Bat, to visit Bat's family. But Jace didn't do too good being alone at home. He had shared so tonight, that he hadn't slept in two days. He grew more paranoid when he was alone. And Percy, being Percy, had immediately offered his home to Jace. Which was super not weird anymore, because Jace had been over for dinner two times by now and they regularly talked outside of meetings.
"Okay, so, what are we watching, Perce?", asked Jace as he snuggled into the blanket.
Percy grinned, also cocooning himself in the blanket. "How about The Lion King?"
Jace took a deep breath as he opened his eyes to a foreign ceiling. Percy di Angelo was a force to be reckoned. Honestly, he had not expected anyone like Percy. When Simon and Isabelle, and consequently also Alec and Bat, had started pushing him and pleading with him to get help, he thought he would just sit stoically through the meetings and endure them. He had never expected to actually share, much less to make friends. But he liked Leo alright and Charles was pleasant to be around, Reyna reminded him a lot of Alec in a way. And Percy. Percy was just... Percy was amazing. He was kind but also very stubborn. They were similar, in many ways. Only that Percy was more expressive about his feelings. He wanted to help Jace, to also get more in touch with his own feelings. Jace still found that rather debatable though, but then again, Percy had managed to make him talk about his childhood abuse, about dying, about the torture, about the pain of believing to be Clary's biological brother and then learning that it was just another lie to try and twist Jace.
"Mh... My, what a lovely view this early in the morning."
Blinking a couple of times, Jace turned his head to look at the source of the voice. An absolutely gorgeous man was leaning against the backrest of the couch, quite obviously checking Jace out. After all, Jace was only wearing boxer-shorts, well-defined chest bare. Smirking, Jace showed off a little as he twisted himself a little to pose. The gorgeous guy laughed at that.
"Niccoló, what's with the eye-candy you have laying around in the living room?"
"The eye-candy is called Jace and he's staying with us for a couple of days. Please try to behave yourself, Magnus. Don't make him uncomfortable, he's one of Percy's strays", replied Nico.
"Niccoló, huh?", echoed Jace amused and sat up, looking into the direction of the kitchen.
"Good morning, Percy's stray and Magnus' eye-candy", greeted Nico with an eye-roll.
"Ma—agnus, huh?", hummed Jace interested and turned to now look at Magnus.
"Magnus Bane. A... true pleasure to meet you", replied Magnus with a teasing smile.
Jace grinned and ducked his head before getting up from the couch to at least put on a shirt and sweat-pants. "Pleasure's all mine, gorgeous."
"Pe—ercy. Please come and make them stop before they fuck on the kitchen table!", called Nico.
"Who fucks on what? Why?", grunted a very sleepy Percy as he came stumbling down the stairs. "Oh. Magnus. Ew. If you came to steal my husband for work then shoo. Be gone, demon lawyer."
Magnus huffed amused and offended at that. "Demon lawyer. You hear that? That is how I am welcomed in my own best friend's house. He did marry an ungrateful one there."
"Don't talk about my husband like that, Bane", warned Nico. "Or you won't get breakfast."
"What are you doing here, Magnus?", asked Percy curiously. "If it's not work."
"I landed a huge client for the firm and just got back home with a plane. Figured I'd celebrate with my partner, in lack of... another type of partner for another kind of celebration", shrugged Magnus. "I do have to admit, I kind of didn't take in the time-difference, so I apologize for waking you."
"Oh, I don't mind being woken by someone as hot as you", smirked Jace.
"No. More. Flirting", grunted Nico pointedly. "Breakfast now."
Percy, Magnus and Jace gladly joined Nico for breakfast.
It had started out with coffee. Magnus was hot and they exchanged numbers, because not everything had to be overly convoluted. They went out for coffee. Then dinner. Movies. A concert. They started calling it dating. Started calling each other boyfriends. By now, it was so much more. It took Jace a long time to trust enough to tell Magnus about his past. Not everything, but the things his boyfriend should know so he would know how to deal with Jace – with panic-attacks and flashbacks. And... And Magnus was just so accepting and gentle. And slowly, Jace felt himself falling in love with Magnus. Percy di Angelo was right. Things could get better.
Things were better. Opening up, telling the group and then at least partially his family, making new friends and then even falling in love. He had started working at Percy's bakery, trying to move on.
"Good morning, precious", whispered Magnus gently, kissing Jace's cheek.
"Mornin', Mag", yawned Jace with a happy smile, rolling over to curl into Magnus' chest.
Magnus laughed softly as he pulled Jace even closer, kissing the top of his head. He honestly had never expected to actually fall in love. Yet here he was, in the arms of a kind and gorgeous man. Nuzzling into Magnus' chest, Jace started drawing symbols on Magnus' stomach.
"Nico invited us over for dinner. You... up for it?", asked Magnus softly, caressing Jace's side. "You had another bad night, didn't you? I heard you pacing in the kitchen."
"Just... nightmares", sighed Jace and shook his head, leaning up to kiss Magnus. "Thank you for worrying. It wasn't anything big. I could go for dinner."
"You could always go for free dinner", chuckled Magnus teasingly.
"Eh, Nico's a great cook", shrugged Jace. "Can't say no to that. But... after dinner, I... I think I'm going to another meeting. Percy's friend Luke holds meetings on Thursdays."
"That sounds good, love", smiled Magnus, kissing the corner of Jace's mouth.
Jace had grown a lot over the past months and he knew he owed a lot of it to Percy di Angelo.
~*~ The End ~*~