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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—


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


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.


…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?”


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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


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?”


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

“ 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...


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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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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July 2012

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