For about the millionth time in his life, Percy, still shedding hot and angry tears, vaguely waved his brother's apology off with his good arm and said "It's fine" in a quiet voice. "It's just...how it is," he sighed, finally getting a handle on his emotions and drying his eye. No choice but to accept it. It wasn't like he could change anything right now.
It would seem there was more bad news on the horizon, though this one he had anticipated cropping up eventually, even if he wasn't sure exactly when. "Yeah, I recall that," Percy said in an odd tone, somewhere between sarcasm, dread, and humor. As if he could forget his monumental failure that had cost two weeks of his life to mystery and another few days to recovery. He'd never forget that look on Artemis's face when he told him what he'd done. "Thanks. I've been looking all this time, but came up with nothing..." he half lied, trying not to let his discomfort show. Percy acted like he hadn't been avoiding finding out what he'd done. In the first few weeks following his failed efforts to make that demonic contract, he'd obsessively tried to track his whereabouts. He nearly made himself sick trying to fill in the gaping black hole in his memory. But in the months following, he was put off by some disturbing nightmares and a nagging feeling at the back of his brain. His efforts to look slowed and he buried himself in other things. Before long, he'd stop looking into it altogether, neither admitting to himself that he didn't want to know nor letting his brother know he had stopped searching. He was fooling himself into thinking he wanted to know because it was the right thing to do, while everything inside of him knew that if he found out, he'd never be the same.
Another lie slipped from his mouth as he laid a hand on the folder, but didn't open it. "It'll be nice to maybe find out what I did...or hopefully didn't do," the younger brother said, looking so much older than nineteen for an instant. It was so tiring, dealing with all the things he did. A gigantic load would fall from his shoulders if he'd just abandon his search for the one thing he didn't have. If only he could just embrace his life as it was, as an intelligent man with a great career who loved his work. His family didn't realize how counterproductive their treatment of him had been. If they hadn't made him feel like his lack of magic was a disability and took things away from him to 'keep him safe', maybe his obsession with getting it and proving himself wouldn't have happened.
Being a man of science was a curse. As much as he couldn't admit he didn't want to know and could have easily taken the convenient out presented to him by his brother by burning it, deep down he knew his curiosity wouldn't be satisfied with never knowing. He might not be ready to know right now, but some day he'd have no choice but to look and confront it. That's how Percy was. He might play ostrich and hide his head for a little bit, but sooner or later he'd come up for air. He'd want to know how much it would take to repair whatever damage he'd potentially caused to people. He'd also want to hide it, internalize it. It was shameful. "I'll go it alone, but I'll be careful," he assured Artemis, turning to look at him properly. Despite how dire the information was, it made him feel good that his older brother had spent all this effort to find it for him and gave him the courtesy of trusting it to him. Mismatched eyes searched the familiar face seated nearby. Did he already have a clue what happened? That was a stupid question. Artemis had every reason to assume Percy's experience had been identical to his, just with no beneficial result.
After a moment of silence passed, tense and heavy, Percy released a trembling sigh. "Art, I'm actually terrified to find out," he confessed with a rye laugh, followed by a wince.
[wc: 708 || total: 15,008]