Goodnight, Luke - radioactiveryro - Percy Jackson and the Olympians (2024)

“Luke. Luke.

He wakes with a groan, pulled out of sleep by someone shaking his shoulder. There's an urgency to it - far more than he'd like for how late at night it must be. Someone is snoring on the other side of the cabin. When he first blinks his eyes open, he can't see anything at all, until they adjust to the lack of light. His little brother is standing over him, still shaking his arm.

“Connor?” Luke sits up, wiping the sleep from his eyes with one hand. “Con, it's the middle of the night. What's wrong?”

The boy stutters out something incomprehensible and launches himself at Luke. He winces at the impact but wraps him in a hug, not missing the way Connor's whole body feels like it's trembling. He's crying, Luke realises, and part of his heart feels like it's breaking.

“Hey, hey,” he says gently, soothingly, like he's done this a hundred times before. He has done this a hundred times before. “It's alright, Con, I've got you. You're safe here. I've got you.”

Connor starts sobbing at that, clinging onto Luke even tighter - he didn't even think that was possible. He holds his brother and comforts him, as best as he can, knowing they'll stay there for as long as the kid needs. Luke is never the first to pull away from a hug for the same reason he'll never get upset about being woken up in the middle of the night. He loves his siblings, his family , and promised to always be there for all of them, no matter what.

Even when Connor's cries die down, he still doesn't let go of his brother. He sniffles, hiccuping weakly into Luke's shoulder (his shirt is wet from all of the tears) and whispers something that the older demigod doesn't quite hear.

“What was that?” Luke asks softly, still rubbing calming circles on Connor's back.

“I had a nightmare,” Connor repeats, his voice uncharacteristically quiet, like he doesn't want to say it. “You… you left. You went away and never came back.”

If Luke's heart hadn't broken earlier, it does now. Connor buries his face in Luke's shoulder again, still trembling. There's a little hand clutching his shirt tightly, as if he's afraid to let go. As if he's afraid Luke will disappear otherwise.

“I'm not going anywhere, Con,” he whispers. “I promise. I'm still here right now, aren't I? It was just a bad dream, that's all.”

“Swear it,” the boy pleads, and he might be crying again. Had he truly stopped crying in the first place? “You won't leave me. You won't leave us . It was so scary, Luke.”

“I swear I won't leave,” Luke says. He tries not to pay attention to the way he can hear the shaky exhale of relief from his little brother. “You're stuck with me forever, buddy, I promise.”

He giggles a little at that, and Luke takes it as a victory. Connor pulls back from the hug, loosening his grip on the shirt, and studies Luke's face intently. There are tears still running down his own cheeks and the older brother takes the liberty of gently wiping them away.

“You feeling any better?” he asks. Connor nods wordlessly and Luke smiles softly at him. “Good. Wanna try sleeping again? You can stay in my bed if you want.”

“Yes please,” Connor says. His voice is still barely above a whisper, his eyes still wet and shiny, but there's the ghost of a smile on his face as Luke shifts around to let him crawl under the covers.

He's more than used to doing this. It happens most nights - demigods, especially little kids, have nightmares more frequently than they'd like to admit - and maybe three or four times a week he's woken up to comfort a crying child. Tonight feels different though, and his soul aches even as Connor, giggling to himself again, steals Luke's whole extra blanket for himself. He's so small, even for a ten year old. Too small to be having dreams like that, too young to be so scared of losing his loved ones.

Luke hates the gods, here at this moment. He curses them with his whole being, for doing this to a child. None of them should have to live like this, hiding away in fear for their lives. He holds his little brother close and tries to blink back his own tears, while the anger creeps back in.

You know what you can do to fix this.

It's back again, the voice in his head that's haunted him ever since he got back from his stupid failure of a quest last year. His jaw clenches. It comes to him in moments like this, where he feels the weakest, most useless, and whispers promises of power and justice to him.

These gods have done nothing but hurt you. Join me, and together we will make them pay.

He wants to, is the thing. Every fibre of his being wants nothing more than to topple Olympus, to scatter the gods to the winds and turn their empire to dust. It was bad enough when it was just himself who was hurting from their actions - or lack thereof. When his little siblings are in pain like this, though? It makes his blood boil. Sometimes he imagines himself standing in the ruins of Olympus, over his father's body with a sword to his throat. He imagines driving it downwards and-

“Goodnight, Luke,” Connor whispers, shattering his train of thought.

Luke closes his eyes, takes a deep breath and exhales slowly. “Goodnight Con,” he murmurs, runs a soothing hand through the boy’s curls. “Sleep well.”

The end of summer rolls round sooner than anyone expects. Connor, eleven years old now, makes his way back towards cabin 11, having finished saying goodbye to the last of his siblings who wouldn't be staying year round. It's a pleasant walk; camp is quieter after summer ends, sure, but it's peaceful, and there's just barely the hint of an autumn chill in the air. It's been a good day. He's in a good mood.

The vibe inside the cabin is very different. Chiron is there, in his wheelchair, consoling the remaining Hermes cabin residents. Travis is sitting on his bunk, staring into nothing with a look of blank horror on his face. One of his half sisters is crying. Luke is… Luke is nowhere to be seen.

“What's going on?” Connor asks, as he slips through the door. “Where's Luke?”

Chiron looks up at him and Connor startles. The centaur himself looks like he's also been crying - or trying not to, at the very least. Something about the scene feels uncomfortably familiar and opens up a pit of anxiety in his gut.

“Connor, I-” the activities director starts.

“Where's Luke?” Connor repeats, maybe a little desperately. There are tears welling in his eyes already, something thick catching in this throat, and he curls his hands into tight fists. “What happened?

The thing is, really, is that he isn't stupid. He prides himself on being smart, on being one of the first to figure a puzzle or task out. Wisdom may be Athena’s thing, but that has never stopped a son of Hermes from being clever. Connor knows something has happened, something terrible, and knows that Luke was involved.

“He's gone, Connor,” Travis says, and Connor has never heard his brother's voice sound so hollow or broken before in his life. “He left.”

He tries to swallow down that lump in his throat. Chiron wheels himself over, touches his arm gently - too gently, like he's made of glass, like this is going to shatter him into a thousand pieces. Connor takes a step back, shakes his head. This is so familiar. This is too familiar.

Barely, he remembers one night a year ago. He remembers waking up with a half-formed cry on his lips, having to bite his tongue so he wouldn't wake anyone else up. There was a dream. A bad one, a nightmare. Connor blinks and the tears spill down his face. He's been here before, in a way, lived this exact moment just a year earlier.

“No,” he whispers. “He wouldn't leave us.”

Chiron is saying something, a careful explanation of what he understands happened. Devastated lines about finding Percy - the new kid - half dead on the edge of the forest, of the boy's story, a disappearance confirmed by a thorough sweep of the campgrounds. He doesn't want to listen. He can't hear this, he won't hear this. Luke isn't a traitor, Luke is his big brother, his hero. He couldn't have - wouldn't have - done what Chiron is saying.

“You're a liar,” Connor says, voice breaking, as he backs up again. “You're lying. He wouldn't, I know he wouldn't. He promised me.”


He can't. He turns and runs, fleeing the cabin, getting away from whatever horrid speech the centaur has for him. The forest beckons him in, promises shelter and being alone, and he accepts it. He doesn't want to be alone, but it's better than being in the cabin.

Under the cover of the trees, Connor lets himself fall apart. He sits at the base of a tree, half hidden behind the shrubbery, and sobs. He cries until his eyes sting, until this throat aches and his head pounds, and then he cries some more anyway. It's not fair. It can't be true. He promised.

There's a dryad watching him, probably the one whose tree he's at, but he can't even find it in himself to tell her to leave him. She sits down, ten feet away, and simply waits with him. He buries his face in his hands as the crying quiets down, until he's hiccuping again, til his breathing is just shaky instead of near hyperventilating.

“Connor!” someone calls. No, not just someone. He would recognise Travis’ voice anywhere.

Connor doesn't say anything, doesn't move, but Travis finds him anyway. He always does. He sits down next to his little brother, shoulder to shoulder. Connor holds back another sob and turns, burying his face in Travis’ shirt. The dryad disappears into the brush, content that he isn't alone anymore.

They stay there for a while, both trying not to cry, holding onto each other. Travis is whispering apologies, words of comfort, things that usually help soothe him, but it isn't the same. It won't ever be the same, and they both know it.

“He promised me this wouldn't happen,” he says eventually, hoarse and weak. “He told me, Trav, promised he'd be around forever.”

“I know,” Travis murmurs back, and Connor can hear the heartbreak in his voice too. “I know he did, Con, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.”

It's starting to get dark by the time Connor can even think about going back. They walk back together, hand in hand, tight enough that both their knuckles turn white. Chiron is waiting for them when they make it out of the forest, accompanied by the same dryad from before. She smiles sadly at the two boys, and vanishes into the undergrowth once more.

“I'm sorry, boys,” the centaur tells them, and Connor is glad he doesn't have any more tears left to cry.

Chiron says, gently, that cabin 11 will need a new head counsellor. Connor wishes he'd shut up, give them more than a couple of hours grieving for a brother who isn't even dead, but might as well be. It's not fair. Travis is the oldest claimed kid in the cabin, with Luke's absence. He squeezes Connor's hand, nods to Chiron.

“Okay,” Travis says, shakily. “I'll try.”

Connor squeezes back, and opens his mouth to speak, because he might only be eleven but Travis is still only thirteen, and Luke did so much for everyone and it's not fair for one kid to do everything alone, so-

“I'll help you,” he says, looking at his brother, then to Chiron. “We.. we can do it together, right?”

The activities director hums to himself in consideration. “I don't see why you can't,” he says. “If that's what you both want.”

“Yes,” Travis agrees, instantly. “I do want that.”

Chiron nods, then escorts them back to their cabin. All of the year rounders are in there, sitting in a half circle around Luke's bunk. The centaur doesn't say anything to them, even though it's after lights out, simply pats the boys on the shoulder and closes the door behind him.

For the first night in five years, they go to bed without their older brother right there. Even on his quest, he'd Iris-messaged before lights out, to make sure everyone was alright. Now, the cabin feels empty, not just without the summer campers.

Connor sleeps in Travis’ bed that night. He can't bear the thought of being alone, even if his own bunk is just the next one over. Long after everyone else falls asleep, he's still awake, listening to the sound of his siblings breathing.

“Goodnight, Luke,” he whispers into the nothingness.

He wishes nothing more than for the dark to whisper back.

Connor is fifteen when he fights in his first war. He watches as his friends and family fall all around him, and he can't do anything more than turn his sword to the next monster. His body aches, both arms heavy like lead, but he pushes through. He has to.

After hours of battle, things start to slow down. There are less monsters, but there are less campers now too. He sits in the temporary medic tent they've set up and one of the Apollo kids - he can't remember their name - tends to his wounds. Their eyes shine with tears that won't spill over, jaw set tightly as they do their work silently. Connor doesn't need to ask what happened. He saw the bridge collapse, watched cabin 7 scramble to find their counsellor, only to return without him.

“I'm sorry,” he tells them, low and quiet. They've all felt the losses. They're still feeling them. “It's not fair.”

The Apollo camper is quiet for a moment. They finish wrapping the bandages on his arm and finally look up to meet his gaze. “Thanks,” they say, and press a little square of ambrosia into his hand. “You should be good to go.”

That's all. He nods to them, takes his things and leaves. They can't even talk about it - all the pain they're carrying - because they need to keep going, and you can't fight when you're breaking down. Not when it might cost even more lives.

Eventually it comes to a halt, though. Word spreads among the demigods of Kronos’ defeat and, despite themselves, relieved joy sweeps through the city. They rendezvous back at the Empire State building and tears are shed for more than one reason. There are rumours going round of what happened, but Connor doesn't care to listen. It's over.

He finds Travis, and slams into him with the tightest hug he can manage. They're both crying, barely able to get any words out at all. Connor is just glad to see his brother alive and in one piece.

“Did you- did you hear?” Travis gets out eventually. His voice cracks as he speaks and Connor's heart drops.

“What?” he asks, pulling back to look him in the face. “What happened?”

“They're saying- I don't know, I haven't seen anything yet, but-” He takes a deep breath, won't meet Connor's gaze. “They said Luke is dead.”

It's like the world ends. Connor's knees go weak and the air catches in his lungs. “What?”

Travis is saying something else but he doesn't hear it. They make their way up to Olympus, following the other demigods, and Connor feels numb. He barely even registers the rubble and destruction around them. His hand is held tightly in his brother's, guiding him forwards.

Everyone is gathered in the throne room, including the gods themselves. Travis does all the talking among the teenagers and Connor pretends he doesn't want to vomit. They're all in so much pain but still so full of joy and relief that he can't bear to match.

Across the room, someone catches his eye.

Hermes himself stands by his throne, presumably in the midst of fixing it, and makes eye contact with his son. He doesn't walk over, doesn't speak, but his expression says more than any words could. The look on the messenger god’s face is nothing short of complete devastation.

Connor swallows, blinks once. More tears spill down his face; his father's eyes are equally glossy with still unshed tears. He knows what it means. Luke is gone. There is no saving him or even a final chance to say goodbye. The demigods around him laugh victoriously with each other whilst Connor mourns.

Even after the events of the last four years, he still misses Luke. He can't help it. He knows Travis is feeling the same way, he can almost physically sense it, but the older boy is much better at hiding it in front of the others. Luke was still their brother, despite it all.

Later that night they'll sit back in their cabin together, on Luke's old bunk, and grieve in silence along with their other siblings. Connor will curl up on a bed with too much empty space beside him, and try not to wake the others up with his crying. If he closes his eyes and pretends hard enough, he can almost imagine Luke lying next to him - can nearly hear him breathing.

“Goodnight, Luke,” he’ll whisper shakily, for the final time, and hope that he can hear it from Elysium.

Goodnight, Luke - radioactiveryro - Percy Jackson and the Olympians (2024)
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