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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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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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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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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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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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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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