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You recognize him immediately. Instantly. “…Elijah? Elijah!”

And you throw yourself at him, and he catches you and holds you almost painfully tightly, spinning with momentum and you’re laughing in spite of the tears in your eyes, clinging to him equally tightly, until he stops, sets you down those scant inches on your feet and you just stare at each other, drinking in the sight—you’re lost in eyes the color of the night until he says, “You look strange, dressed as a man.”

And you laugh, laugh again, your heart swelling almost to bursting with twenty years’ worth of love overwhelming a hundred of separation.

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Odin…” You’re pressed against each other and you feel hard muscles and rough scars and scratchy, his beard is rough beneath your hands and you half want to yank it just to see what’ll happen and his one eye is like fire staring at you, blazing gray-blue and your fingers wander beneath his eyepatch, lift and brush away and he lets, and you just know you’re the only one other than Frigg who he lets do that, you brush it away and he opens his hollow eye and you see the emptiness there and that hurts, somehow, even though he did it willingly; like he went and became this, became the All-father without your permission, without your input and against your will but you couldn’t stop him if you tried, but the image kind of hurts nonetheless, a shudder wanting to run down your spine at the thought of him plucking his eye out, handing it over for knowledge—that’s always been his weak point, wisdom, knowledge, knowing—he’s such a huge sucker for it and you want to smack him, because there’s more to that in the world, doesn’t he realize that? Doesn’t he?

…You’re an idiot,” you say, glaring at him. You’re completely breaking up the moment and probably doing the equivalent of a cold shower but you really don’t care right now, that just makes it all the more satisfying. “A complete, absolute, total fool. And I think you should know, because nobody else is going to tell you.”

He blinks, and the intense look fades from his eye and he looks… slightly confused, and then wryly amused, rueful, and you know he knows; and he knows you know he knows and you know that, you both know you’re telling the truth and you’re both aware of that, and you’re also aware of the fact that it’s going to change absolutely nothing and that makes this rough, breaking feeling just tear through your chest like a silent, suppressed sob, because why, this—all so limited and trapped and fate and you’re so frustrated, so angry, bitter and jaded and fed up with this, why not try to change it, why keep conforming, why keep perpetuating this whole thing—

You jerk away, away from him, roll off the bed and pick up your clothes with choppy motions, yanking them on angrily, furious suddenly for no reason whatsoever and yet all the reason in the world—

…Loki—wait.”

You glance at him—glare—sharply over your shoulder. Waiting. Listening.

…Stay.”

Why should I?” you snap. “What reason have you given me? Why do I put up with you? Give me one, give me one good reason I should put up with your miserable, pathetic, worthless presence.” And it’s all in your own head, he didn’t actually do anything this time—he knows nothing of your random mood swing—

…Because we’re brothers.” And the unspoken, lingering in the air: ‘I love you.’

And that makes you want to sneer. ‘Oh, do you?’

Oh, are we now? That’s the only thing you can come up with? A shame, I thought you were better than that.”

You turn away, start walking away, but before you reach the door there’s his hand on your shoulder that you itch to slap away but you just remain still. Silent.

…please.”

…I hate you, you know that? You never play fair.” But you know you don’t mean it, you really don’t, deep down—because he’s right, you’re brothers sworn in blood to each other and that means so much…

…I know.”

…damn it to Hel, Odin—! You—you’re—”

I know.”

…I hate you… I really hate you sometimes.”

I know.”

Say something else, can’t you—?!”

…Loki.” Breath gusts over your neck, making you shiver.

Stop that.”

…I’m sorry.”

…mm. All right. Good enough for now. But I still hate you, understand?”

Understood.”

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Leaning forward, fingers gently on his chest, lean up and kiss him.

Just softly. Just gently. Because this is—

And then pull away, and he raises an eyebrow. Grey-silver. “You’re not the first student to do that.”

Breathlessly, pink and yet almost joking, serious and playful at the same time. “I don’t care.”

Roll eyes, smile a bit, wrap an arm around your waist, pull you close into a kiss again.

[Just affection, really. Not romantic. But you don’t care.]

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Silk. Satin. Lace. Velvet. Nylon, cotton, polyester, netting. Stockings and gloves and garters, lacy and delicate and held up by flimsy, clinging belts. High heels, platforms, ties wrapping around leg, ribbons around limbs and hair and glittering clips; stiff, sheeny material in skirts, spread out over walls. More lace, in heavy petticoats and ballroom skirts and ridiculously long dresses. Gowns made of gauze and fluttery, offering peeks of things hidden underneath.

Skin.

Pale and creamy, long legs and slender fingers and willowy body, burgundy hair and blue-gray eyes and pink lips. Beautiful face adorned by make-up, lipstick and mascara and eyeshadow, liner and blush and unrecognizable yet still knowing, blue lighting and elaborate costumes and beautiful.

So beautiful.

So beautiful...

Fabrics. Clothing.

It turns you on. So much.

Just the sight of him, in stockings wrapping around those smooth legs, feet in high, high heels, white and silk painted with flowers and diamond-shaped cutouts, deep red dress barely brushing the tops of his thighs, advancing on you with a smirk, that confident, knowing, almost predatory smirk, the one that says, I know what you’re thinking. I know what this does to you. And it pleases me. So I’m going to tease you to within an inch of your life.

And you want it. Oh, you want it.

He leans over you, golden bangles around his wrists, a blazing ribbon tied tightly around his neck, hints of make-up on his face and still the smirk, fingers just barely brushing under your chin, giving you a tantalizing view down his chest through the collar of the dress.

A few teasing remarks, a wink and a single grip on your jaw and then he’s gone, dancing away in those heels like he was born for it; fabrics flutter and tail waves and you want.

When he dresses like that—lets you dress him like that—it’s irresistible. Oh, yes, you do it for the art—for the photographs, but it’s impossible. He’s too beautiful. How it’s possible for a person to be so singularly beautiful you don’t know. It’s not like it matters how. He just is.

Silk. Tight, tight silk. Shiny and smooth over his skin, expression of bliss on his face, bliss as you pin him to the wall and—

“Now Bel, show some restraint! I can see your dirty thoughts from a mile away~”

And he knows he likes it. You’re the one with the costume fetish but oh, he likes it. When you call him beautiful, tell him how gorgeous he looks, whisper in his ear how he’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen—he loves it.

And then you switch to murmuring how he entrances you, holds you spellbound, and badly you want him, want to ravish him; how much you love him, want to see him splayed out beneath you, breathing hard and flushed, moaning at your every touch and still clothed in beautiful fabrics like icing on the cake.

If he’s in a playful mood he’ll laugh; laugh and say it’ll be you beneath him, unable to resist for long enough. If he’s not, he’ll blush, sweetly and innocently and pretend your words don’t turn him on—but either way the result will be the same: the two of you together, you and him and together and hot, joined in a perfect union of sliding flesh and voice in exhales and soft cries, lips and mouths and teeth and tongue and burning like a fever and it’s all so perfect and beautiful—

...His tongue slides over your skin, hot and wet and gliding up your throat, his eyes watching you keenly as he kisses your neck, kisses it before biting, hard, just hard enough in that way that he knows, just hard enough not to draw blood and hard enough to make you moan, his tail flicking against you and hand sliding down over your hot, sweaty skin, down, downdowndown—

So. Beautiful.

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You turn around and put the torc and brooch on the glass-top table with a clack and he’s crouched down beneath this massive glassware cabinet, peering around inside with it. “Recognize anything?”

It squints and shakes its head; he shrugs and motions you over. Bottles of whiskey, scotch, cognac and various others you don’t recognize in different languages sit there, faintly dusty and gleaming. After a moment, his long fingers pull out a pair of tall slender ones and passes one to Bel.

“That’s a mild one, if you want to try.”

It nods, a grin spreading over its face that makes you snort. Silly.

You watch him as he pours the drinks and ice with cut-crystal glasses from the cabinet; he’s so... ethereal, almost, so... amazing and beautiful, like a different creature altogether... the little contented smile on his face, like he’s taking joy in just doing mundane tasks...

[‘Maybe he still has it, after all, that joie de vivre... he just doesn’t notice it or something...’]

Then he turns and puts one in your hand with a smile and tells you, “Try it.”

You do, and it’s... different, different from what you’re used to but still creating a pleasant warmth somewhere in your stomach like the feeling of fire—

Fire. Oh-so-carefully, just nudging it, just nudging it gently, ever closer to that fringe of hair... and then it lights, and it’s so difficult to keep a straight face; and and he (Jay) and he (Emory) don’t look any wiser and he (Levi) has this tiny little flicker in his eyes and he (Chesh) has this knowing, amused smile on his face that hasn’t left and it (Bel) just bites its lip—

The leather is cool at first in this... lounge, you guess, but very swiftly it warms up as you sit there and gently swill your drink, Chesh sitting adjacent on a couch with it beside him with a tall glass of something faintly fizzy and sipping it slowly...

He sighs softly and leans his head back, groaning faintly and closing his eyes. “Never again... no, that’s not strictly true, you made it quite memorable, Loki, and I’m always glad to help out a friend, but... that atmosphere is something I haven’t tasted for a while now.”

“Drink,” you say. “That tastes better.”

He laughs, laughs and doesn’t move, though a smile tugs at his lips. “That it does... and you? What’s your impression of modern formality, if not exactly high-class society?”

“Don’t care for it at all. ...I must say the clothes are nice, though.”

He chuckles and you grin into your drink. “True... perhaps next time I’ll take you to a gentleman's club or something, those involve nice clothes and drinks... like we’re doing now...”

“Are we? You’re not.”

He opens his eyes and sits up properly and winks. “I’m a touch slow tonight.”

“We all are.”

His tail twitches slightly as he drinks, your eyes catching the slow, back and forth movement. Bel has a sleepy smile on its face, half-sleepy and almost half-drunken, holding the glass with both hands. He pets its head and it leans up into the touch, crooning, “Kitty... Cheshy kitty...” His smile widens.

That’s the first time it’s called him something other than his full name.’

I know.’

Huh. Must be drunk.

“...you haven’t known it all that long, have you?” you ask, taking another sip.

“Mmm... no, not quite a year... why?”

“Mm-mmm, just wondering...” Doesn’t take that long to fall in love, huh...? ...what am I thinking anyway, ha...

The drink is cool and slightly bitter on your tongue, and it’s dark, the only light coming from a low lamp somewhere off to the side, catching off his fingernails (painted) and your glasses and the liquid and its eyes...

“...You’re weird, you know,” you say, almost not quite sure why you’re saying it.

“Mm?” he raises an eyebrow over the rim of the glass. “So are you.”

You can’t help but grin. “Aren’t we all? But really, you are, kind of.”

“How so?”

“Something... about you. Like a star or something, or a sun, or a planet... you radiate this... feeling... ...obviously the alcohol is inhibiting my words.”

All he does is wink. “Aura, my dear.”

Surprisingly it doesn’t bristle at the joke, the pet name; just leans back and drinks before setting the glass down with a light clack on the table and snuggles up against his side, closing its eyes as he wraps an arm around it, holding it close.

Close. So... close... Memories of cuddled up close to someone in the dark come to mind, first one somewhere else, followed by one of her...

Close. Being... close. Warm. Safe. Loved...

“...Loki?”

“Mm?”

“Are you all right?”

You snap out of your trance and he’s looking at you with gentle concern, his hand running slowly up and down its back, protecting and soothing. You grin. “Yeah, I’m fine. ...cute.”

He blinks, nonplussed by the remark; you merely shake your head. Better not to meddle. I’m all right like this. Not wanting anything.

“You’re sure I don’t owe you anything for the clothes?”

“Mhm, of course~ Think of it as a gift if you like, or just a helping favor...”

“I could afford it, though.”

His eyes glimmer. “So can I.”

You snort faintly. “What are we even talking about, again?”

“Such a short memory~”

“Nah, it depends. Like fire, depending on the fuel.”

“Fire... it suits you, you know.”

“Don’t I know it.”

His smile becomes rather lopsided. “Wish I’d thought of that, before... fire on people’s hair...”

“Never be afraid,” you whisper (why whisper?). “No regrets, no second thoughts. Trickster’s creed. Plan it thoroughly, cover it up, don’t get caught. Look after yourself first. But no regrets. Pointless.”

“Not a bad way to live,” he says, eyes closing as the ice in his glass clinks. You find yourself grinning wider.

“Not at all...”

It’s fallen asleep against the sofa, and he smiles, gently running his fingers through its heavy bangs.

“You really love it, don’t you,” you say, not really as a question, eyes not really focused on anything in the space between him and the liquor you’re swirling slowly.

“Mhm, I do.”

You raise your eyes from gold and ice and meet his gaze. “What’s that like?” And just like that, all those familiar questions, the ones that have gone through her head so many times come trickling to the surface: ‘What’s it like, to love? To be that devoted to someone, to feel that strongly about them, to care about them so much? To feel that swelling in your soul and that pounding in your heart, is it really as amazing as they say?’

“It’s... a really big feeling,” he says, still combing through its hair. “It varies from person to person, of course, but it’s... sometimes it’s quiet, sometimes it’s bold... sometimes it doesn’t really show on the surface but it’s still there...”

“Hmmm... hm.”

“Hm?”

You lean back in the leather with an elbow on the armrest. “...odd, that.”

“Rather, I suppose...” As it nuzzles him in its sleep his smile becomes tender, almost amazingly so, remarkably so, the love and care almost overflowing from his eyes... What IS that feeling? I don’t... really... get it... Isn’t it enough to just live...? Live for yourself... like I have...

“...you’re happy?” His eyes dart back to yours and even though you’re sure he knows what you mean you find yourself explaining anyway. “Loving it. Being that vulnerable and close... having to look after someone else as well...”

His expression changes to sympathy, understanding; he can tell how you’re struggling and while your pride stings just slightly at that you’re more grateful that he just gets what you’re grappling with.

“Mhm, I am. It’s... caring for someone and looking after them and being close... all of that is being returned and while in theory, to someone looking in, it might seem like a burden or something close to it, while you’re experiencing it, it’s... not. Things like worry and anxiety... it’s just care and ultimately... I suppose what true love is is absolute selflessness: being able to do anything for someone and putting them before you because their happiness matters more than yours, and if they’re happy, you are by extension...”

For a moment you’re silent, digesting this information. A line floats to mind, from her: ‘If you truly love someone, you have to be able to let them go, forever. Otherwise you don’t love them enough.’

That’s out of context. Plus the girl in the story didn’t have to.

That was ambiguous. She did, for a certain amount of time, sure.

“...well. Given that I’m pretty much the epitome of selfishness, that’s not going to happen to me anytime soon.” Almost apologetically you grin; he nods but raises an eyebrow.

“You’re not nearly as selfish as you might think.”

“Maybe I just want to think I’m selfish, then?” You eye him over the rim of the glass.

“That’s certainly a viable explanation.”

You make a noncommittal noise and take another sip. Getting attached to someone like that, boxing myself in, cutting off potential routes... well, I guess if I loved them, that wouldn’t matter, or I’d love someone with the same attitude. ...or maybe not, what am I thinking.

You look back up at them, at the tender smile on his lips and the content in its sleeping expression. But they look so happy...

“...say, Chesh.”

“Mm?” He looks back up and you’re almost not sure why you said that.

“...is it okay if I call you that?”

He smiles. “Everyone does. It’s fine.”

“...’Kay... ...you... do you think... I don’t know. I’ll ever find a... purpose for being here or something...”

“I would’ve thought you’d say, ‘Do you think I’ll ever find love,’” he smiles, putting his chin on his hand. “Ultimately, it is you alone who determine your purpose. Ultimately, everything boils down to you yourself. This you can understand, yes?”

“Yes...”

“So. While I cannot answer the question for you, strictly speaking, I also trust you and believe in you and have faith in you; if you wish to accomplish something, or simply even wish for it, I do think you will.” He finishes with a wide, closed-eye smile, so much that it makes your face flush. Why does HE have faith in me of all people...?

“...th-thanks.”

“You’re welcome~”

You cover up the blush with a hasty swig. The alcohol’s going to my head.

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It stills gets to you, sometimes.

Sure, it’s kind of neat, having wings; a lot of times you like to just lie in bed and play with them, run your fingers through silvery, fluffy-ish feathers (but not too deep; if there’s one thing you weren’t expecting was touching the skin underneath them to be a giant turn-on), appreciating the sensations.

And then there’s the fact that you’re learning to fly, which is also pretty neat, even though you’ve never had any particular desire to before you died. But you know a lot of people would be envious of you (the flying part, not the dead part, although being dead like this isn’t so bad; it’s actually pretty great), and you want to learn, figuring there’s no point to having wings if you can’t fly.

And they like your wings, like messing with them and raking fingers through your feathers when you let them out during sex (that’s another thing you haven’t figured out, that’s weird—where the heck do they go when you make them vanish?), which is an enormous turn-on and that turns you into a shuddering vocal puddle of goo, but somehow you keep wondering if it’s a good idea, if it emphasizes and brings up the distance between you, of two years spent as an angel wandering around with no memory whatsoever, if it reminds them—reminds him—of your death.

So it gets to you, sometimes.

Waking up in the middle of the night, sitting up and feeling things attached to your back, shoulders, moving as you do and muscles in tandem and it feels so wrong, like they shouldn’t be there, they should be gone and the only they’re there is because you’re an angel, now (and it’s not like you ever gave much thought to the afterlife even though you were fighting for your life on a regular basis); so you make them disappear. Always. Vanish away into some space inside your back, but that’s only creepier—it doesn’t make sense, but at least you can’t feel them like that.

You can’t keep them hidden away inside forever, but at least they’re out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind, isn’t that how the saying goes? Something like that. You don’t remember.

You have a hard time remembering things, sometimes; your memory’s returned, yes, but you still forget things often. Things like having wings, even though you wear your halo around your neck. It’s become almost—almost—like another piece of jewelry now, another one of those necklaces.

I didn’t want to die… and life’s good—death’s good—right now, but sometimes it just feels like… ‘Hey, Jervin, doofus, you’re dead.’

I never said I was smart, I never said I was good with remembering things or realizing things or feelings or anything—

Soft. Silvery. Attached to your back, spreading out behind you—

So very wrong.

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He carefully creeps out of bed and to the bathroom. He washes his face not in cold water, but warm, for once, trying to preserve that feeling from the dream. He looks up at the face looking back at him in the mirror and tilts his head; the face mimics and almost unconsciously he smiles. His reflection smiles back, and it’s a nice smile, he decides; a nice expression.

He goes back to washing his face.

Music singing in his soul...

~

When you wake some time later, no, a little while later, you’re alone in the bed and you blink in surprise. But then you look up and sit up you see the door open, the door behind the door, leading into a long corridor through which morning sunlight is beginning to stream and—

The sound makes you freeze and tilt your head, trying to catch it—the sound of music.

High and light and chords rippling gently through the air, quietly, so you can barely catch it; you slip out of bed and blink the sleep from your eyes and head closer for a better hear.

It’s music, alright. He’s playing music.

Almost feeling like you’re intruding on a dream, invading the perfect peace, the harmony of the moment, you slowly tiptoe down the soft carpet, the music getting gradually louder with every step. It’s not piano, not the odd plinking, ringing notes from before—it’s rising and falling, vibrating strings, causing waves of green and blue and soft, peachy orange to go through your mind, making you gasp. Sound has color? Or is it merely the emotions that you’re reading—emotions—color?

You shake your head, trying to clear the sudden confused muddle. It doesn’t matter right now.

The door is open, the other side from which these beautiful sounds are coming; hesitantly you peer around it to see—

He’s standing there in a pillar of light, with this serene expression on his face—eyes closed, an oh-so-soft smile on his lips, his fingers moving so smoothly on the strings, pressing and releasing and he holds the bow (is that what it’s called? You’re not sure) so precisely, like it’s become second nature, like it’s supposed to be held... And one moment when his eyes flare open he looks exhilarated, enthralled, enraptured...

And still the beautiful music, high and light and singing and it’s not perfect, not exactly; he misses a note here and there and you can catch the minuscule shifting of his mood as he notices and corrects it, pausing and going back, over the little bits until they are perfect, and then back again to the start, with a tiny shuddering breath and half-opening his eyes, and the song’s beautiful, slow and careful and delicate, simple while still being pretty, and—

And then just like that it’s over, with one final low note rippling through the air and you slowly break out of your trance, from drinking in it all in. He stands there, still and holding the violin and his eyes are almost closed; but they’re unseeing, and you’re not sure what he’s thinking, now—all the gentle waves of emotion have gone flat, but slowly building up to something you can’t tell—

He swallows, and slowly puts the instrument down. And then he stands there, looking at it and steps back, and slowly sinks to his knees on the plush carpet, and carefully puts his hands in his lap. Excessively he blinks, rapidly and quickly and you hear him sniff, slightly; and even though he smiles a few tears tumble down his cheeks and splash onto his bare knees.

“...Cheshire?”

Your voice breaks the silence and he looks up, and he smiles, with eyes closed and widely, as though there isn’t salty water dripping off his chin. “Good morning, Bel. I’m alright, d-don’t worry about me—” He cuts himself off to gasp slightly and you don’t miss the stutter, just dash across the room to throw your arms around his neck; he hugs you back, at first slowly and then tighter, burying his face in your shoulder.

“I’m alright,” he gasps, nuzzling you. “Just... just a little overwhelmed...”

And the feeling’s not sad, from him, exactly, just... replaying, riding on those beautiful waves of music being made by his own fingers—

“I can play, Bel,” he whispers, “I can play.”

“I know,” you say, hugging him. “I heard.”

“I can still play...”

“You always could.”

He draws back and he smiles again, brushing away the wet from the corners of his eyes and his cheeks and you kiss him gently, a kiss that he returns before pulling away with another gasp to press another to your lips, and another, and then that fervent energy overtakes him and he stands, heads to the bookshelves and pulls out more thin, dusty volumes, adding them to the several already spread out on the table. He moves with quick, almost excited movements, and you watch, drinking in the sudden spikes in his emotional state.

“...Aren’t you going to eat breakfast?” you ask eventually, sitting there and watching him flip through pages and books and blow dust off of everything.

“Later,” he says, and there is definite excitement in his voice. “Breakfast can wait.”

You frown. “No, it can’t. You need to eat.”

He looks up from a page full of bars and notes and his face does something almost akin to a pout. It makes you giggle. “Be-el, ple-ease? Can’t I put it off for an hour or so?”

“It’ll turn into five hours. You need food and sugar.” Though you smile your voice is stern. “If you take twenty minutes to eat, then you can spend all of the time before lunch here doing what you want. Now come on. Food and sugar.”

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We’re the only ones here who haven’t lost anything. Isn’t it a little unfair? Chesh is broken; Bel’s obviously had things happen to it before; Jervin’s died. Loki’s jaded and bitter and betrayed; I’m sure Annette has bad things in her past, too.

We’re so lucky. Living charmed lives...

We’re kind of oblivious, aren’t we? To all their pain... is it selfish to want to have experienced it, just so that we can relate? Or is it better that we haven’t, because we can smile and look forward so innocently, so oblivious, pull them into the light because we don’t know these things, don’t know of those things...

I don’t know.

I guess... it’s just the best we can do, to be optimistic and happy and support them, to just... be here for them. Just... to do what we can, no matter how little.

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“Re~e~ach for the sta~rs,” he sings as his fingers dance over the ivory, “No matter how fa~ar~” tilting his head back as though he can see them. “Someday they’ll fa~ll, end withal…” An almost wistful smile on his face, a sparkling in his eyes as he hits the last reverberating note with his pinkie.

Then he takes his hands away from the piano, smiling towards your gentle clapping. “Odd song, isn’t it? A touch morbid~” The smile is beautiful, absolutely happy, eyes closed and tail tip waving gently…

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See him standing there, on cobblestone streets: laughing. In the flower of his youth, his eyes sparkle and everything about him glows with life. He smiles with the pretty girl with the golden eyes; watch as they reach for each other’s hands with the smooth, practiced motion of many years. He gets in a wink before she does; she nudges him and it’s his turn to blush before they smile and laugh again and walk down the street, leaning on each other’s shoulders.

What are they talking about? Plans. Plans for the dazzling future, wrought with myriad possibilities.

What... did I want? What did I want, back then? What were we planning... ah, yes, to conquer the world... back then it’d seemed possible, that together we could do anything, accomplish anything with our talents...

And then he’s standing somewhere else, a white room with linoleum floors and white walls and cold metal. This time he’s not smiling. He’s shaking with horror and he’s pale as death, almost as pale as the walls. He’s just been told that he only has weeks to live.

All the plans come crashing down, smashing on the floor like the most fragile of crystals, shattering as if in slow motion, glittering fragments flying through the air, reflecting rainbow sparkles off of everything like a final burst of hope before it all dies, scattered over tile—and—oh god it wasn’t supposed to be like this, I wasn’t supposed to die from some terminal disease with one chance in a million, I was supposed to live, we had so many plans, so many things to do, everything was just beginning

[Tell-don’ttell-tell-don’ttell-tell-don’ttell-I’mgoingtoDIE—]

Everything fell apart.

And the images go faster, now; his surroundings change, he changes: From the white room to one with harsh lights; with every passing day, every passing moment the vigor drains from his face, the life from his body and the hope, the joie de vivre from his eyes. Look, before and after: No resemblance. One flushed with youth, energy, rosy-cheeked and beaming; the other hollow-eyed, ashen-skinned, for all intents and purposes dead.

Watch as they try to save him, as part of him is torn between wanting them to succeed and wanting them to fail as he falls into a void of nothing, like a long tunnel of darkness through which shafts of light pierce occasionally; memories of days, of joy, of excitement, of living, not so long ago, but seeming like an eternity—even if I recover from this part of me is lost forever—

Like a nightmare, stumbling through vision after vision, of beautiful years and then horrifying sights while elsewhere, connected by a thread, his body undergoes cuts and incisions and chemicals and sparks and energy and magic; doing everything possible and impossible on the prayer that it’ll work.

I don’t want to die...

And work it does, and he opens the eyes he wasn’t expecting to ever open again to see metal and anxious faces that have become the only people he ever sees over those weeks, his only comfort as he waited to slip away. And he watches, still and barely comprehending as they whisper to each other with cautious hope, cautious optimism and whisper to him, and it’s like—

I know these people and I know what’s going on and I’m pretty sure I know what just happened but it’s like it isn’t me, I still have all the memories and all the recollections and all the sensations but it’s like I’m watching them through somebody else’s eyes, like it’s not me there, me who lived all that time—or is it not me who’s lying here right now on an operating table—

And he chokes up, too weak and feeble and numb to do anything but mourn yet again, let the tears slide down his cheeks for the hundredth time, grieving for everything that was lost and now getting a second chance, the opportunity to start over, except—I can’t go back to that, it’s all already over—!

Slowly, oh-so-slowly, he claws himself up from the pit he’s fallen in, gathers remnants of hope and slivers of broken dreams and tiny pieces of his broken heart, little fragments of who he used to be as his body recuperates, as they test him and go on with whatever far-fetched treatment works. He can’t decide if this is a dream or a nightmare.

I wanted to live, I wanted to live so badly—I couldn’t die, I couldn’t—

There is one thing... It’s... experimental and we haven’t tried it yet on anybody, so there’s no guarantee it’ll work, but if you want to take the chance—”

I’ll do it. I’ll take it. ...Please... I don’t care what it is, if I have a chance—if it’ll give me a chance—”

And yet—why—how—where—who—? Who am I what am I doing here where is this what happened what’s going on why aren’t I dead whywhywhy?!

Watch as he relearns, as he staggers on weak, stick-thin limbs when once he ran, sprinted down snowy streets with joyous laughter ringing in his ears; as he cries so many times but he’s not even sure why; as his body struggles, as he struggles, wavering back and forth from the brink of death more often than he’d care to count, but still keeping track of it in the back of his mind because what else is there to count, to bother knowing, when he doesn’t know the date, doesn’t know the time, hardly knows himself –counting. The incident with the sugar, when everything else—any other sustenance—was violently rejected. Starving for near a week as they pushed how long he could go without it. Being cut accidentally, too-thin skin and so much blood that wasn’t right, it was—something swimming in it, tiny green— And the bizarre growth of the tail, long and white and silky-smooth after the pain had gone; “Well, could be worse,” they said; at that point he almost didn’t care.

So many times. So slowly. Climbing up, up, up, step by step, crossing the thousand miles gradually, tiny bit by tiny bit. And in the end—standing before a mirror, staring at himself, mentally comparing the differences without even thinking: Paler. Thinner. Weaker. Emptier. A pitiful creature, a pathetic shadow of who I once was, bearing resemblance only in appearance and even then only at a stretch. ...I never had such vacant eyes... what happened to me...? [I all but DIED—] Why... can’t I go back to being that person I used to be...? [Because that person’s DEAD.] ...Ah... I knew... I always knew...

Tears brim in his eyes and he brushes them away yet again. And then, still staring at this shell of a person, he reaches out, lashes out; snatches up a pair of scissors—no, a knife—fumbling with long, slender fingers and the sound of tearing as carmine curls, dark red locks tumble down to the floor, the dusty floor back home—except this isn’t home anymore this can’t be my home anymore nothing from before matters now it doesn’t exist I don’t fit here it’s all wrong—and then the deed’s done and he looks up into that pale face streaked with wet and it’s all he can do not to break down again, even though he’s already cried so many tears for that lost future, that lost person, lost self, hands curling and gripping wood and shaking just like he did that day months ago—how long ago was it? He can’t remember, he’s not sure anymore—when they broke the news to him originally.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this...! That under-the-weather feeling wasn’t supposed to turn into this...! I’m still alive but it’s like I’m dead at the same time—

[Barely lived. A scant twenty years—two short decades when every day was bright, every day I lived to the utmost, enjoying, thrilling with every single breath I took, drinking in everything, every sensation—and all of that is lost forever...]

He picks himself up with shaky legs. Goes through the house one final time, letting his eyes sweep over everything he’s known, the backdrop of the place he’ll never return to. Then he leaves, and locks the door, and stands there looking down at the key in his hand. It’s so tempting, to simply fling it away over the rooftops, hurl it and end it all, the final nail in the coffin. [Nail. Coffin. Dead.]

...I can’t do it.

Slowly he pockets the key. Lets his feet take him on one last walk around the town he’s lived all his life, seeing the memories flash behind his eyes: running down the cobblestone streets as a child, then older and older; remembering all the tiny little things—sitting on the roof of the cathedral after a harrowing climb, the many times walking along the edge of the cobbles and on rails with arms outstretched for balance; singing softly, twirling around the square... the sound of music, the taste of cream, the scent of autumn, the feel of the summer breeze tinged with cinnamon, and the beautiful sights, the familiar sights, the feeling of being home...

Praying and hoping both for someone he knows to spot him [or not spot him] on this final round before he leaves, but no one does. [Not that they’d even recognize me anyway.]

And then he leaves. Departs on one of the off-world ferries and trains, not knowing or even caring where it takes him. Just wanting to get away, get away somewhere else, where I can start over, start my life all over—

He doesn’t cry, now, even though it hurts. He’s trying to keep himself together, and while it isn’t easy, it isn’t quite as difficult as he imagined. People come and go around him; strangers of all kinds, all species. Some greet him politely out of courtesy as they take seats beside him, some say nothing.

I... I think I can do this. I can do this. [Who am I kidding, I can’t do this—!] It’s not that difficult. I’ve done this before. [Living.] I’m still here. I’m still alive, I’m still breathing, I’m still feeling

That thought makes him want to burst out laughing; he barely refrains, holds back until the next stop, gets off and staggers some distance away from the rest of the people down some alleyway—not caring where—before he slumps against a wall and laughs.

I’m still here—!

He laughs so hard even though it physically hurts, even though he can’t breathe, he can’t stop, can’t stop laughing and can’t even pin down the emotion behind it—hysteria? Irony? Bitterness? Madness? Panic? Fear? Certainly not humor—hope? Relief? He has no idea, just laughs until he’s completely out of breath and leans there and gasps, feeling the way his heart pounds in his chest so strongly and a sound far too close to a sob escapes his mouth but he doesn’t cry, not now; because he realizes for the first time seriously that he’s alive.

And after a long and yet short few minutes, he pushes himself away from the wall, composes himself, gathers himself and goes out; finds his way in this new place, this new world, a new name dropping so easily from his lips, building himself a new self from bits and pieces, some of them memories but others fresh and shiny brand-new; experiences, thoughts, feelings... All of them. I still have them.

He learns to live again, to function again, throwing himself into everything with almost reckless abandon before he learns to be careful again; he doesn’t want to die again. Learns to trust again, to love and care—it’s not like he’d completely lost those things yet, that would come later. But for now, he teaches himself how to live a life again.

He does things he wouldn’t have a chance to otherwise, the things he’d wanted to do previously, impossible to resist—learning, practicing, studying, working at things that fascinate him, meeting people, forming relationships... Still holding the memories of the past, but no longer only just that, moving forward despite it all, somehow finding it in him to believe, in himself and his own strength, however small.

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Light-bulbs are totally awesome and everybody should have them in their house. Light-bulbs equal ideas and if you have tons of light-bulbs around then you’ll get tons of ideas. What’s that, you say? People already HAVE light-bulbs all over the place in their houses? Well, they need to get more! Of course. I mean, duh.

…yes. Light-bulbs. People need light-bulbs We ALL need light-bulbs. Light-bulbs are brilliant, don’cha know. And in more ways than one. Do you know all the THINGS you can do with a light-bulb? …well, maybe you don’t wanna go there. But some people have a burn fetish.

What? How’d we go from light-bulbs to fetishes? I have no idea, isn’t it awesome?

Fetishes are awesome too~ Wanna hear some of the latest ones I’ve heard, huh huh?

…no?

Aw, you people are so boring… who doesn’t want to hear about fetishes? I mean, aren’t we all subconsciously focused on sexytimes anyway and Fru—Fre—Freud was right? Huh?

…no?

Argh, you’re all so BORING… I should go talk to the Idea Beast or Jervin or Loki… they’ll at least listen… even Bel is more interested in this stuff than the rest of them… Heh. Bel’s so cute and sweet and yet it’s so dirty at the same time~ Like two sides of the same coin.

…no wait, is that flip side? Flip—fluh—flew—bleh. Can’t say it. What, it’s hard to say these things! …hard. Heh. Annette’s not gonna be happy about this~ But I don’t care~

Because I have light-bulbs! Yay!

Loki - Duel

Mar. 4th, 2012 12:20 pm
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“Hit me with everything you’ve got.”

“Everything?” You raise an eyebrow skeptically, but he just nods.

“Everything. Mindbolts too. Don’t be afraid to use force; if it gets truly dangerous I’ll teleport.”

You find yourself grinning; oh, he wants to play rough, does he? “Alright. Everything.”

He smiles, claps his gloved hands together once, and pulls the gloves off, tucking them into a pocket. “Come on, see if you can stop me,” he says, and the distance between you is about twenty feet; not too far, which is good considering you’re not all that skilled at long-distance. He closes his eyes briefly, and when he opens reopens them, that mesmerizing pattern is there, what she’s dubbed mystic eyes and the rest have adopted.

“See if you can stop me.” A glow of runelight appears around your fingers as you grin.

He smiles, and assumes a relaxed posture but you can see the slight bending of his knees. He doesn’t blink, watching you. For a moment you don’t blink either, a long moment of just watching before you smile and take a step back.

He blinks. You grin and in that instant a mindbolt flies at him head-on before it fizzles out of existence before it reaches him and he ducks, reaches behind and grabs a rope of Naudr where you had it about to wrap around him and crushes it between his fingers; by that time you’re rushing forward in a barrage of runes, combinations flung from your hands that he dodges or neutralizes but you just cast Kaen at yourself and dart forward in wildfire form, only to be stopped a foot later with a freezing drenching like buckets of Logr but you were expecting this, so one of the runes he previously tossed aside comes back at him and he sees it in the nick of time and it misses by an inch before he catches it and somehow turns it into something else with just a squeeze of his fingers and sends it flying back and you shatter it with Tyr as it passes over your head but as you step forward you’re frozen again in a pentacle of blue and he’s advancing with something forming in his hand, like a thorn or a needle, long and sharp and crackling but you don’t even stop, just cast the Ur-Hagall combination that got you out last time; but apparently he was expecting that because nothing happens, so you raise an eyebrow and instead do Ur-Hagall-Thuris-Bjarkan; the web flickers and you push with almost half your strength and it blows apart into fragments and he looks slightly surprised at that and the magic he’d been gathering vanishes and you grin and dart forward again.

There’s only a few feet between you now and you keep switching, moving your fingers from rune to rune as fast as you can, casting them down into the snow and using others to hide them and this is it now, it’s close combat and you don’t hold back. Feint, dodge, duck, parry—you can’t tell what it is in his hand but every blow you block sends a jarring pain up your arm and you let him drive you back in a shower of sparks, blue and purple and orange flying like fireworks every which way in your vision and all you catch is this blaze of light—but then he’s in place and you get out a cantrip between your teeth and vanish into flame, flitting away backwards and as he glances around for you—and spots you almost instantly—your own web flares up around him, an intricate net of runes that he can’t escape from, wrapping around his legs and slithering upward in seconds, binding his wrists together behind his back as you touch down lightly back on the snow and smirk and he hisses, slightly, which only makes you smirk wider.

“Had enough yet, Kitty?”

He tries to loosen his wrists but you merely tighten the bonds and he flinches, glaring at you juuust a bit, and you summon a new rune to your hand, just as a precaution as you approach.

“Now what, hmm?”

His lips move and something cold and sharp bats the rune out of your hand; you only have to turn your head slightly to see whatever it is and destroy it, but when you turn back you see his fingers move behind back just as you realize you should’ve immobilized them too and this snap comes and this explosion of multi-colored light blinds you momentarily but it’s all he needs and a surprisingly gentle hand pushes you squarely in the middle of your chest and that’s it, it’s all over and there’s cold, wet snow seeping into your hair and the back of your shirt and a light, light finger on your throat.

You blink rapidly to clear your eyes and he’s leaning over you and smiling angelically and the sight is more than a little strange and you’re really not quite sure what to say. Even less so when he leans in and his eyes are still absolutely entrancing.

“Give in?” he asks, and you blink.

Then you sigh good-naturedly and brush his hand away from your throat and sit up from the snow. “Yeah, yeah, you win. You win, I lose.” He blinks in slight confusion but you grin and shake snow out of your hair. “Stupid mistake, huh?”

“What, my hands?”

“Yeah, just goes to show I’m out of practice. Not that you use them as much as I do, but still. ...surprised it took ya that long to break out, though.”

“It was a potent combination; it took me a few moments to figure out what you’d done.” Finally the confusion vanishes from his face into a smile and he reaches out a hand to help you up; for a moment you stare at it before taking it and letting him pull you to your feet.

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It comes up to you one day, not long after coming back here to this space with the bubbles and purple, and tugs your sleeve gently. You turn to see strikingly green, amazingly beautiful eyes staring up at you earnestly.

“You’re pretty,” it says. “Can I take pictures of you?”

You’re mildly surprised at the request, but you have an admitted weakness for cute things. Cute people. And this one is by far the cutest you’ve ever seen and you can’t refuse.

You smile. “Sure. What do you want me to do?”

“...Sit over there. Like that. Clasp your hands around your knee—mhm. That’s good. Chin—mhm.”

You can get the basic feel of what it’s aiming for, so you project your gaze off into the distance and keep the faintly amused smile there on your face as it shuffles around and the shutter clicks. It’s somewhat entertaining, watching it crouch down with this expression of complete focus, the tip of its tongue sticking out just slightly... the intent focus, the complete concentration...

“Have you been doing this long?” you ask, out of curiosity.

It nods slightly. “Not that long, but... kinda long. I like taking pictures. ...The... idea.”

The smile grows slightly wider. “Capturing a single moment in time, forever preserved...”

At that it blinks, then nods again, a little firmer, the tiniest hint of a smile playing about its lips.

“...with all the connotations and emotions, yes?”

“Yes!”

You chuckle gently as it nods enthusiastically. Adorable. So adorable, so cute and yet so serious, so innocent and yet not...

“...um. Wanna see...?” A little shyly it offers the camera—how did it get so close without you noticing? That’s... odd... Were you that spaced out? Lost in thought? ...Hm.

“If you don’t mind,” you smile, and get a shy one in return as it sits beside you, and the moment the first picture on the tiny preview window meets your eyes you inhale sharply, startled. Not that your own shape, own form is unknown, you’ve seen it countless times, but—this. This... almost doesn’t look like you, it looks... like somebody else, something else... The dark shadows, the strange angle and the glimmering eyes and light playing off the (mostly) innocent smile...

“...Beautiful...”

It fidgets. “Not really... you’re the beautiful one. Really,” it adds, looking up at you with that earnest green gaze again, “you’re beautiful.”

“...aha, not as much as you~” You wink and it blushes, bright red, and looks back down at the camera, blinking rapidly in an attempt to clear the heat from its face.

It’s cute. Very cute. And for some reason you feel at ease around it, even though you only met a few days ago. It’s... not asking you questions or probing or prodding, not that you mind those overmuch, and its presence is... comforting. Quiet and sweet when you listen to it and something... more, but you don’t look completely because oh no I’m not touching THAT so soon again, but still.

You think you like it, this strange, adorable green-eyed androgyne.

 

[And how long did it take? So soon, so quickly—amongst the many little activities: playing games, putting together puzzles, hesitant, experimental leaning against each other, walks here and there, sharing food; a few winks, blushes, pounding hearts and a few kisses and the realization comes—I think I’m in love.

And pictures, ever more pictures, photographs—of you, gradually more requests; pose like this, wear this, stand here—all of it. And photographs of it, too, when you manage to convince it to let you take some. Photographs of it and you and together—all beautiful, all pointing towards— I think I’m in love. And you hadn’t meant to, didn’t intend to fall in love so soon... but then, it’s not something you exactly intend to do, is it?

And that strange feeling, of I think I’m in love, so strange... warm and fluttery and nervous even though you didn’t show it outwardly; didn’t really let it know. In love with this odd, cute, shy demon, with the enormous, beautiful green eyes, the incredible smile and the comforting presence, the sweet, quiet nature... Perfect. Simply perfect.

I think I’m in love~]

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The longer of the necklaces you pull over your head, and the looser of the bracelets, drop them in his hands; he doesn’t say a word, just watches with blue, blue eyes; and behind you on the opposite end is your opponent, some hulking brute at least twice your size, in all likelihood, but you know this’ll be a cakewalk—the bigger, the slower, and quite possibly dumber.

Some kind of cheer—or perhaps it’s a jeer—comes from the motley crowd behind the chain link fences as your opponent flings off the red hoodie he was wearing and revealing his excessive muscles; you merely turn, approach, take up a ready stance. The first of the stiletto knives is in your left hand, its grip snug and perfectly fitting.

For a moment, nothing. For a single tiny moment there’s nothing.

Then there’s a rush, a blur, a feint, a swing and a duck and your first knife is sunk into the inside of his elbow, right at the joint, almost through; a howl of pain and you duck around, a kick to the back of the neck—something hits you in the midriff and you find yourself skidding back amidst a flash of pain, but it only takes a moment for you to catch your breath again and dig your boots in and you see brilliant blue watching you from all the way over there, only you, and you’re mentally counting down seconds until the chloroform kicks in, but you realize that you really don’t need it. And the second knife’s already in your hand and one more nimble side-step and right in the side of the throat—

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There is a wall in your room that is covered in photographs. Perfect, flawless photographs.

All photographs of him, of course.

(I never denied I was a stalker.)

Beautiful, amazing snapshots of moments in time, moments preserved forever—a coy smile, a playful wink, a lazy pose; a hand reaching out, an eye. A sultry gaze from behind burnished red strands, fingers on lips... elaborate outfits, blazing skies, silhouettes and shadows, unblemished skin and long white tail: throughout it all, him.

Your fingers brush over the smooth, glossy surface of the latest one, pinned up with the rest and with the date written in tiny letters on the back; he’s reaching up for the sun in this one, his slim fingers almost cupping the white-hot orb while rays of dazzling light shine between them, falling upon the small, contented smile on his face.

(Sun. He’s so warm... and I’m so dark.)

He doesn’t really see that side of you, not exactly; you don’t see that side of you, most of the time. Most of the time, when you’re doing something together—he’s smiling, that amused smile you love so much, and you’re smiling back, like you always are, just a little, soft smile because he’s happy and being with him makes you happy too and somehow you just have to stop what you’re doing (already forgotten it) and just hug him, bury your face in his neck even as he says your name in that faintly musical voice and then raise your head to kiss him—it’s not like that. It’s only... only at times like this, when you’re alone with these massive feelings, at a loss with them, that you wonder how dark you truly are.

(Am I doing something bad? Thinking about him so much, wanting to know so much, feeling like this—or am I just in love?)

It’s not that you’re overly pushy, it’s not that you’re overly demanding, no, never that—beneath it all he’s so quiet, so fragile, so easily broken despite all his strength—and that thought makes your heart clench in your chest, because he doesn’t realize he needs protecting too—and so you’re gentle with him, always; you don’t know how effective you are but you’re always there to support him, there by his side and gentle, accepting, loyal...

And yet...

Your gaze drifts down to another photo, one taken in near-darkness, his pale skin almost glowing as shadows play about him and he looks over his shoulder with wide, staring eyes, some not-quite-startled emotion there—he doesn’t know a lot about me... but... he loves me, so does it even matter...?

He’s said it more than once—all the time, almost (even though you confessed first)—and you don’t doubt that he does, having read it in his mood, his emotions that you pick up on; there’s no doubt in your mind how much he cares and how much it matters to him that you’re there; does that make it alright, then? You’re quite sure he doesn’t care—it doesn’t change anything—to him, that you’re—

Demon, inhuman, black and monstrous and sadistic and stalker and possessive and hurtful—except you don’t even know if you’re those things, you try not to be, but...

(Stalker? When—don’t leave me please don’t leave me I just love you—no wait, that’s not right, the evidence is contradictory? But I did, I stalked—hurt—her—someone before... but I don’t want to do that to you, but—)

You sigh, sit on the stool you were standing on and look at another photo, one of a lantern, hanging from his hand and the smile seeming just a touch sinister in the greenish light, tattered strips of red fabric in the background behind him like streaks of blood. ...He’s beautiful. You’ve always thought so from the moment you first saw him. Amazingly beautiful, inside and out. Always so strong, and selfless to a fault, caring, loving—do I even deserve all that...?

But he loves me... and I love him... Does that make it alright? I can’t tell, with these feelings... this is the first time I’ve felt this way, even though I’ve been with people before...

You’re young, for a demon, and there’s so much you don’t know; that worries you sometimes, like now—what if I’m doing something wrong? What if I’m doing something bad? I don’t want to hurt him...

You curl up, folding your arms over your knees and your eyes rove across the wall, searching for something lighter, something to distract you—your gaze stops on the one of broken glass in his hands, taken under the rain, and you remember the enigmatic remark he made, with that odd, distant look on his face after the shoot was over: “Like a heart, almost...” And now of course you know what he meant, now, and the images flash through your mind, images and emotions:

Snap and lash out and a golden bracelet falls soundlessly to the floor—and then enormous overwhelming hurt and tears, raw sobbing, and then crack and horrifying, sickening numb(ing) waves of empty pain and then slow recovery—

You bite your lip and close your eyes against the sudden stinging. He’s broken. He’s so, so broken and yet not and not anymore and—

You snap your eyes open and look for anything to change train of thought from, anything—that picture. The one—the one... where he’s sitting with his knees up and arms across them and this sunny, closed-eye smile and tastefully nude—and that brings with it another memory, one of—he kisses you with his tongue in your mouth and your wet body is plastered to his and you moan as—

Hastily you shake your head to clear the memory, face feeling rather hot. No. That’s a pleasant memory to be sure, but not what you were looking for. Nuh-uh.

This time a different picture leaps out at you, one of a mirror and a heavily made-up face and feathers and more costumes and a strange stare. Like a mask, acting as someone else—he’s always so natural, always in-tune with what you want him to do when it comes to this, being your model of sorts; always perfect harmony, even without words, without needing to say anything, just being natural around each other and communicating with mere looks... you’re still not quite sure how it works (something to do with your empathetic abilities and his odd sixth sense) but you’re not about to question it.

Is that how much we love each other? Or is it just something else... it was like that from the start, before we... we...

A small smile curves your lips. That was nice. The fluffy, fluttery, nervous feelings that he somehow still manages to evoke in you; get your heart pounding and your cheeks warm and make you shy... you love that about him. All of it. The gentle teasing and the flirting, the surprise kisses and how much he trusts you, that you can do that for him too, give those feelings back and make him happy in return.

Is that what love is? ‘m not sure...

The door swings open and he pokes his head in. “Bel~?” There’s a playful smile on his face and you can just see his tail waving. Without even thinking, without even consciously registering it at first there’s already a responding smile on your face.

“Mm?”

“Let’s go somewhere today? You and me?” He winks and your smile grows wider—always the flirt, always—and you slide off the stool to join him.

“Mhm!”

Your hand takes his without thinking, and his larger fingers wrap around yours and just like that, the dark thoughts plaguing you fade away, go back to some shadowed depth they came from, replaced by warm, fluffy feelings of love and happiness, especially as you look up at him, and he’s smiling, and he looks down at you at the same time and your faces are inches away—and he leans in to press a kiss to your lips and nuzzle your cheek, and as you return the action you think, I love you.

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First instinct, upon walking into a room—hitch yourself up to a door post, back against it, and let your eyes sweep the crowd. There, on the fringes, where both inside and outside are visible, just in case a quick getaway becomes necessary. That, and being apart. Separate. Off to the side.

I’m not a part of you.

Watch. Always watching them, watching him; letting him know you’re watching. And he knows, too. He’s all too aware of your mocking gaze, your derisive sneer that curls your lip every time he lets himself acknowledge you with the tiniest glance. It’s failure smacking him in the face, doom laughing at his attempts to hold it back, future not even deigning to give him a second look.

And he knows.

Of course, he knows everything. (And you’re only half-sarcastic for that one; he knows and yet he doesn’t know, in the end he’s such a fool like the rest of them, gods—)

And he knows that in the end, it’ll all be hopeless, everything will be useless, finally; when the nine worlds are swept with flame and ice and your children rampage and fight his and you’ll be right there too, leading the charge—what, did you think you could keep me leashed forever? All-father—

Just a tiny bit of chaos—everything needs chaos, needs a little spark to keep it from going stale—and you both know that. But when you deliberately kindle the flames, whose fault is it but your own—

So you stare. You stare as he gravely, solemnly (ha, so consumed with responsibility and duty, so pathetic) converses with the others, how they look up to him and respect him, because he’s oh-so-wise, oh-so-knowing and oh-so-seeing, while you stand there and a laugh bubbles up in your throat because you’re the only one who sees how blind he really is, how little he knows and what a fool he is for all his wisdom, wisdom that only makes him a greater fool and makes the consequences all that deeper.

What greater price is there to pay than the universe itself?

(And yet in a corner of your mind, buried all the way deep down, it’s two-fold again—you’re the only one that sees, giving you the entertainment, the laughter, while they all cringe and wonder what you’re plotting this time, and yet... the idiot, why can’t he see?)

Ha. Rhetorical question.

You turn away, away from him and the firelight and look out into the starry night, deep blue and beyond the stone walls and see the worlds spreading out into the distance towards the horizon, and there’s this strange clench that your heart gives that you ignore, this strange sensation that you don’t want to admit, that comes upon you every now and then—not the longing for war, that stirring in your blood and the itch to fight and watch everything fall to pieces because the score will finally be even—no, that’s not it. A different one. One that’s usually buried so far deep you forget it exists sometimes, but one that takes over so suddenly when it does come—

Some desire, one that’s not the usual superiority, the desire to escape from them and crush them and get your own back, no, something else.

...A want. A want to see him beg for forgiveness, care enough about you and what you think and feel to beg for forgiveness, admit that he’s made a mistake—no, more than a mistake, made so, so many—admit that he should’ve treated you better. Admit that it’s his fault you betrayed him, that he betrayed you, the oath-breaker, the liar—and with them having the nerve to call you liar, the epitome of evil, when he’s just as bad, regardless of whether or not it’s the truth—because you’re oh-so-aware, at times, when you’re alone in the dark and the overwhelming hurt that you don’t want to admit gets to you, that you know you’re all that, that you’re a cheat and a liar and a slut and you’re going to go bad in the end, you can see it happening and it scares you so much so because you don’t want to lose yourself, but in the end—that’s his fault too.

It’s all his fault.

His fault this incredible bitterness and anger and malice is building up inside you, and you know it in your bones that when the end comes, you’re going to be right there, standing in the middle of pure chaos even as you’re dying, and laughing. Of course. You’re going to be laughing the whole time, when the seas are rough and the boat’s complete and you’re on the way there, laughing as your imprisoned children (another thing you’ll never forgive him for) break free, and laughing when the lot of you all end up in Hel anyway, because in the end it was all useless. All his planning, all his futile attempts to stall it, all the people he’s swept away to make his own personal army—and the solution was right there under his nose staring him in the face with a smile. The salvation was—IS—right. There.

Me.

 

“Hey, Loki!”

You snap out of your thoughts and look up; they’re all smiling, the two girls and the stern woman and the cat and the angel and the demon, and her smile becomes a grin.

“C’mon, stop being such a wallflower and join the group.”

You unhitch yourself from the corner and grin back.

All in good time.

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Where would we be,

Without eyes to see,

Lost in the dark,

When we just might be in a park,

The garden of the sky,

Unable to fly.

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And it’s this nagging feeling, this feeling that you’ve forgotten something, something important—of course because you’ve forgotten EVERYTHING—every time you think about the fact that oh, hey, I’m dead now, or just when you’re not doing anything, just sitting there staring at nothing, and to this day you’re not sure what triggered it, what brought back that flood of everything, so strong it sends you reeling to the floor, head spinning and dizzy and nauseous as the whole thing plays back in your head:

Alone on the streets. Meeting him. Initial fight. Distrust. Mutual agreement—two are better than one out here—because he’s impressed with you for some reason and you kinda like him and it’s partnership. And then the training, and the knives, and the practices and the fights, hundreds of fights and tournament and victory and money, piercings and tattoos, jewelry and metal yanked from defeated opponents, metal around your neck, on your wrists, fingers, like a badge of your prowess—and then the occasional laughter, smiles; the kisses, the sex, the smoke—he and smoke always go together—the weird feelings and avoidance of that one word, because it’s dangerous here and the hiding from the rain and tough finding food, shelter—and then fights, arguments, snapping, and that good newcomer with the silver hair—no, not him. The cheater. The cheater with the lying smirk and the warning—and that brings with it this insanely powerful feeling of oh god I screwed up didn’t I and then the whole thing comes back: Fight to the death and desperation and this feeling of I can’t lose and so much blood and pain and then the final stroke and your last thoughts are I’m such an idiot I should’ve listened to you this is so stupid oh god I’m sorry I can’t even say goodbye TRACEY—

And that hurts, that hurts so bad, hurts even more when you think about how he must’ve found you, your best friend, your ONLY friend, lying there DEAD practically cut in half—you still have the scars—in a sea of your own blood and it hurts, hurts too when you realize how you’ve forgotten the whole thing, been so oblivious this whole time—and you can’t think, just this sickening, mind-numbing feeling of I’m sorry I’m so so sorry why didn’t I listen why did I do that to you god I’m such an idiot I never even TOLD you— How could I die like that god that was so stupid you even warned me I’m so stupid I’ve always been—oh god I’m sorry—!

--

When Jervin regained his memories of his life.

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Muse

A muse, hence her name. Pronounced in a way that rhymes with ‘Zeus.’ A cheerful and slightly manic girl. Seems to be between fourteen and sixteen years old, though is probably much older. Her main occupation, outside of being a muse and doing things that muses do, is having fun and acting like a child on a sugar high. Frequently seen scribbling something on the sheaf of papers she carries around. Loves cake and hates work; easy to get along with because of her childish nature, and can be very sweet. At times can be quite serious, though, and that’s when she acts almost like a different person. Thoughtful, deep, and to the point. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen very often. Has something of a rivalry with Annette; this goes back to when they first began working together and they absolutely loathed each other. Otherwise, Muse gets along well with everybody.

Muse has purple eyes and shoulder-length, clumpy black hair that she occasionally attempts to put in a bun, but it always falls out. Typically dresses in a brown skirt and shirt combination, or pajama-like clothes. Her most distinguishing characteristic, however, is probably her excited, goofy grin. [IMAGE COMING SOON]

Annette Strickley

Works as a proof-reader, though may be seeking alternate forms of employment where her skills will be put to better use than merely removing typos. As her name implies, she is rather strict and every inch that proper employee; speaks with polite formality and views the others mostly with annoyance and exasperation. However, she is very protective and even motherly, on the rare occasion. Most definitely not heartless. Somewhat famous for her incredibly sour lemonade—she adds no sugar whatsoever. A stickler for proper grammar and manners, yet has a definite weakness for cute things (e. g. Belial). Enjoys nothing more than simple peace and quiet.

Somewhat on the tall side, Annette has light brown hair she keeps in a bun at the back of her head with side-swept bangs to the left. Light brown eyes to match, and she dresses in stark gray suits, jacket and a skirt, combined with black pumps. A pair of rectangular spectacles on a chain completes her ensemble. [IMAGE COMING SOON]

Cheshire Carroll

Cheshire is... difficult to describe. His name is a good indicator of his personality; slightly mischievous with a fondness for knowledge and imparting that knowledge upon people in confusing and infuriating ways (read: Mind Screw). He has been described as, “A fascinating mess of charismatic contradictions,” which... also works. More often than not he can be seen wearing an amused smile on his face and is a bit of a flirt. And yet, while that is a very real part of his personality, the placid amusement and cheer, underneath it he is... quiet. Quiet and somewhat reclusive and perhaps even a little shy. He rarely talks about himself (though as of late he has been opening up more) and is more than a little depressed. His true name and age are unknown, as are his species/race and home world. Exceptionally skilled in magic and possesses strange eyes that allow him to see its raw nature. Models for Belial’s photographs and is in a relationship with it.

Blue-gray eyes, not steely. Tall and slender, rather willowy. Rather androgynous-looking. (Comes in handy when he cross-dresses.) Dark red hair, straight and split down the middle, cupping his face and forming a mass of curls at the tops of his shoulders. A slightly long, white cat’s tail, but no cat ears. Usually wearing some variation of blouse or turtleneck sweater in cold weather, and dark pants together with tall, lace-up boots. The one thing that never changes amongst his outfits is his relaxed, confident elegance. [IMAGE COMING SOON]

Belial Zèsilfrangür

A demon and an excellent photographer. Has no gender (though can change at will; is a shape-shifter), hence the pronoun ‘it’. Not the demon of Christian scripture, but shares the same name and happens to be from one of the high-ranking demon families. Its true form has been seen from time to time but mostly it stays in the shape of what seems to be a twelve-year-old child. Personality-wise it’s very quiet and sweet, often speaking in a near-murmur. It possesses empathetic abilities and its presence is known to be very comforting, despite having a dark, stalker-like streak; it can be devious and possessive while still being absolutely adorable. Has a wonderful, heart-melting smile. Often seen carrying around a big black camera. Cheshire’s soul mate.

Somewhat on the short side, Belial has large, striking green eyes and a mop of dirty-blond hair with long bangs that half-hide its eyes and goes down to the bottom of its shoulder blades in spiky ends. Often wears an off-white hoodie adorned has rainbow geometric, interlocking designs on the top that gradually fade towards the bottom, and beneath that long-sleeved shirts and jeans. [IMAGE COMING SOON]

Jervin Aldesworth

A third-class angel (spiritual reanimant) and ex-street fighter. He’s an upbeat, easy-going guy who is very accepting; he doesn’t bat an eye at anything. Has an fondness for piercings and nicknames, and is employed part-time at the mall, where he plays the synthesizer. Very fun to be around and almost always grinning. Cheerful and supportive. A bit of an experimental cook. Looks to be eighteen years old, and has a pair of silvery wings he can materialize at will. Due to his death he lost his memory and only regained it recently; even now he forgets things easily and often describes his recollections as “fuzzy.” Dating Tracey Danz (Cobalt) and Aaron Harchez (Rails) from The Other House; they’ve known each other from before Jervin’s death and while the beginning was rocky it is believed that at the moment the three of them are figuring out what it’s like to fall in love.

Fond of jewelry, Jervin has five piercings in each ear and one that’s healed up on his lower lip, off-center to the left—rather than putting the ring through his lip, he puts it on it. In his lobes he has a special earring from each of his boyfriends. Aside from that, he wears several bracelets, rings, and necklaces. Has fluffy black hair and golden-brown eyes, dressing usually in some combination of black and red shirts and jeans. Having lost his halo once, he now keeps it around his neck as a choker. [IMAGE COMING SOON]

Loki Laufeyjarson

Loki can be summed up in a single word: annoying. He makes it his main pastime to annoy people by pushing their buttons and getting into their faces. Not entirely surprising, given his identity; he is indeed the trickster of viking myth. Generally he is annoying, sarcastic, and more than a little devious with a strange sense of humor. Almost always at work at some thing or another, be it holed up in his basement lab experimenting with chemicals and runic magic, or designing blueprints for who knows what. Although he enjoys playing pranks on people, he mostly refrains from doing so inside the house; this is in part because everyone else would deal him terrible retribution if he did, and because it’s home and since his arrival he has been a little quieter than one would expect; grappling with personal issues. Flirts often with Cheshire, something which has earned him Belial’s bad graces, although they do seem to be grudgingly patching things up. Fond of playing with fire due to his pyrokinetic abilities; may or may not have some pyromaniac tendencies to go along with it.

A rather pointed face, with thin, faint criss-crossing scars across his lips; makes his smile rather crooked. Pale, shifty, fiery green eyes and orange-red locks that he keeps smoothed back from his forehead that form half-curly tendrils at the nape of his neck. Tall and thin, around Cheshire’s height, dressing in sweater-like long-sleeved shirts and pants. [IMAGE COMING SOON]

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