I have loved you for a thousand years I will love you for a thousand more ---
When Hades curses Orpheus with immortality for daring to question his authority (and almost starting a revolution certainly had something to do with that), nobody else was supposed to get caught in the crossfire.
Cue a centuries long pursuit, a friendship forged to withstand eons of solitude, and everything else that follows, until the sun explodes.
Characters: L Lawliet - Death Note - Hawk Orpheus - Hadestown - Strider
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Jul 17, 2020 17:43:12 GMT -5
L Lawliet was not a detective. He was barely out of his teenage years and into his twenties. He was a scrawny man, with messy black hair that seemed longer in the back than in the front, and wide dark eyes that seemed to see everything at once. He wasn’t a detective, and he had no business walking the street his feet had searched for and found, and yet here he was. His loose clothes hung on his shoulders, moving with him as he walked, keeping to the side, head down but eyes up, always searching. He looked, lost, but he was anything but that. He stopped suddenly. Something had caught his eye, something that wasn’t usually there. He frowned, them bent down, examining it. It was a musical instrument, he realized, abandoned in the leaves and dirt. He stared at it, mesmerized by it’s unfamiliar pattern of wood and strings, then checked to see if anyone was around who seemed to be looking for something, but didn’t see anyone like that. There weren’t really any other people at all, actually. Who could lose something this big? He didn’t know. But after a moment of searching he found something. The wood was imperfect in places, suggesting frequent use. That meant whoever this belonged to was probably missing it. He hesitated, them continued his way forward, carrying the instrument with him. Perhaps he would find whoever it belonged to on his path.
Orpheus had no real destination. There was nowhere his feet could take him that wouldn’t remind him of the failure he’d faced, the lives he’d just caught. It took everything in him to just put one foot in front of the other, his back hunched as though it still expected the weight of his lyre to be there. It wasn’t. He’d abandoned it when the ground had closed back up and swallowed Eurydice whole. A muscle in his jaw worked, and he pushed away the thought. He thought he understood hubris, now. The confidence that he could do what nobody else could, only to watch it crash down around him. He was too young for the weight of the world – the love he’d had for Eurydice had been real, yes, but it had also been young and stupid. He buried his head in his hands, berating himself for thinking of her again. She was trapped, and soon she wouldn’t remember him. She wouldn’t remember her own name. A stab of pain shot through Orpheus and he forced himself to keep walking. After a moment he stopped, almost collapsing into the grass by the side of the road. He was tired, he was so tired, and there wouldn’t be any rest for him. He couldn’t get away from what he’d done. He couldn’t get Eurydice back, or change Hades’ mind. He opened his eyes, staring down the road. Very few people tended to travel this way, and Orpheus was grateful for the solitude. There was only one person visible, but Orpheus didn’t pay them much mind. He turned his attention to the grass, slowly picking out pieces strand by strand. For the first time, there was no music echoing in his head.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Jul 17, 2020 18:23:53 GMT -5
L kept walking, scanning the area now for anyone else that might be around. The unfamiliar weight on his back made his already horrendous posture worse, and he dragged it along, wondering who would bring something like this anywhere, and why. He supposed he ought to go home, but he didn’t want to. He walked these streets for a reason. Because here, he found other wandering souls, other people without parents to look after them, even though he should have been too old to think like that. Maybe that was the result of growing up alone, after your parents were dead, the streets were more of a home to him now than he supposed any building ever would be. He didn’t feel sorry for himself. He realized that his parents had died in a terrible accident, and he also realized that this wasn’t unusual and didn’t set him apart in any way. Growing up alone was, perhaps, even the norm. He didn’t even know why he was thinking of it now. He looked up, shading his eyes, and caught sight of someone ahead of him. They looked…lost. He wondered whether they had lost their instrument, and that was why they looked so sad. He imagined giving it back and filling their eyes with joy, imagined them saying Thank you and showing L how to use it, what the strings were for. Maybe he would even play a song. He smiled a little at the thought, and picked up his pace, headed for the figure on the grass. That had to be why they looked so lost, right? This was a treasured possession. No wonder they looked like someone they loved very deeply had been taken from them.
Orpheus stared straight ahead, barely acknowledging the figure that was coming nearer. He didn’t think whoever it was would notice him, or care. It was as though part of him was still in the Underworld, like he thought his corporeal form wouldn’t even be noticed. He gave a small sigh, fingers itching for his lyre out of habit, but there was no use for it anymore. His song had failed, and it was the only song he had left to give. He felt… alone. He couldn’t remember his parents at all, and he figured Hermes would be angry with him for destroying the lives of people who deserved better. People he had wanted to save. Eurydice’s death had been his fault, and he hadn’t even done well enough to be able to save her. He let himself fall back, gaze fixed on the sky. “Orpheus.” He heard a voice, and immediately started, looking around for its origin. Oh. No origin, because there was nobody around other than the other man who was still getting closer. “You broke my rules. You stopped work on my wall, and I was still kind to you. But your insolence cannot go unpunished.” Orpheus shivered at the sound of Hades’ voice, and he pressed his hands over his ears as though that could drown it out. “You will have no place in my kingdom. A long life is usually a gift, but I think for you it’s a fitting punishment.” Hades laughed, deep and cold and bone-chilling. “You will not be welcome in my kingdom unless you receive wounds grievous enough that they cannot be overcome.” Something shot through Orpheus, hot and sharp and painful, clinging to his heart for a moment before it faded away. He gasped, laying back and squeezing his eyes shut. No. No, this was a dream or a joke or… or something. It had to be. Orpheus pressed his hands into fists, planting them firmly in the ground besides him. No. It wasn’t only his life that was affected, though. Hades hadn’t noticed the man coming up the road. He’d thought Orpheus alone.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Jul 17, 2020 19:13:08 GMT -5
L was getting close to the other man, the instrument bumping against his back and shoulder as he walked. He could see the expression on the other man’s face, now, the way he looked so completely lost and alone. It hurt L to see someone else like that, and he comforted himself with the fact that the instrument would undoubtedly give him some comfort from whatever he was facing. Whether that was only the loss of his possession, or something else, L didn’t know, but he was confident he could help. He should have stopped just a little further back. He had no idea what he was getting into. He had no idea who Orpheus was, or why he looked so sad. All he knew was that he wanted to help. And then the voice sounded. “Orpheus.” L stopped, blinking and searching for the source of the voice. But there was none. It was only him and the stranger and the instrument on his back. There was no one there who could have said the name. Name. Was that the stranger’s name? Judging by the way he looked up, it was, though he didn’t seem to understand any more than L did. “You broke my rules. You stopped work on my wall, and I was still kind to you. But your insolence cannot go unpunished.” Orpheus, if that was his name, had gone very still. L took another hesitant step forward, then another, and then he was approaching, curiosity getting the better of him, the instrument all but forgotten. He wanted to ask where the voice was coming from, what he was talking about. He wanted to know how this person was, and what he had done. “You will have no place in my kingdom. A long life is usually a gift, but I think for you it’s a fitting punishment. You will not be welcome in my kingdom unless you receive wounds grievous enough that they cannot be overcome.” L finally stopped again, but he was close, much too close. And then he felt it; a sharp, hot pain in his chest. He stumbled, shocked, as it slowly faded away into nothing, leaving him alone with just the stranger and the instrument for company. He didn’t understand. A long life? A kingdom? He checked himself for signs of an injury, but he found none. Then he looked up and at Orpheus again - he was now convinced that was his name - and took a step back. Too little. Too late. Clearly, this man had done something. Something bad. His punishment was...life? No, that didn’t seem right. But he knew what he had heard. He backed away, shaking his head. He didn’t understand. But he suddenly wanted nothing to do with this man, this stranger with the voices around him like ghosts. He ducked behind a corner of a building, and he meant to run, but the weight of the instrument stopped him. His curiosity was still burning. And, afraid as he was, he still wanted answers. He would watch, he decided, from afar. He would see where Orpheus went, and he would figure out what had happened. Yes, that was the only sensible thing to do. He peeked out from behind his cover to see what the man was doing now.
Orpheus’ brow creased and he let his hands uncurl until the rested flat against the ground and his entire body drooped forward with the weight of his sentence. “You said it wasn’t a trap,” he said to the air, something in his voice raw and unfiltered. He didn’t care if anyone was listening. “Mr. Hermes, you said it wasn’t.” A small sob wracked his body and he stared at the ground, trying to process what had happened. Though he tried to convince himself he’d still be able to see Eurydice after a long life, deep down he knew that wasn’t the case. Deep down he knew he would never see her again, and it was his fault. If only he’d trusted just a bit more. If only he’d kept his gaze straight ahead, because he’d been so close to the end, he’d seen the sun and the grass, and… and she would never forgive him. “You said it wasn’t a trap,” he whispered again, daring the tears to fall. He hadn’t been able to cry, he really hadn’t. All he’d managed were dry, tremorlike sobs. No tears to go along with them. He curled down closer in on himself, trying to still his body. He’d forgotten the stranger by that point. There was just him and grief and the terrible, stifling silence in his head. It felt like opening his mouth to breath only to find there was no longer an airway there. He didn’t know if Mr. Hermes was there, and he didn’t particularly care. He needed someone to blame, and he knew the only one there was him. The only person the blame could possible rest on was him, and there was no way around that. He’d have an eternity to harbor it and fan it like a flame until guilt consumed him. Would that kill him eventually? He sucked in a few breaths, trying to stabilize his heartbeat. Trying to make the world go upright again when it was upside down and he was clinging onto it by his fingertips. When he was little, he’d heard stories of the gods cursing people for doing bad things. For eating other people or pursuing the wrong person or pursuing someone for the wrong reasons. For being confident they could best a god. Orpheus had never thought he’d be on the receiving end of one of those curses. He never thought he’d be a cautionary tale. He was supposed to be blessed by the gods. Apollo himself had given him his lyre, Hermes had raised him when he was too young to understand that his mother was never, ever coming back. When his father had decided he didn’t want a child if he couldn’t have the woman who had borne him one. Perhaps he’d been overconfident. Perhaps he’d tested Hades too much, and maybe, maybe, he’d almost won. Slowly, Orpheus pushed himself back to his feet. He could do nothing just… sitting there, feeling sorry for himself. He could do nothing with the absence of notes drifting through his mind on breezes of thought. So he’d do what he was planning on doing before Hades had cursed him. He’d just keep wandering until one day his heart gave out. Maybe that would be never, now. Either way, there was no future for him. He might as well do something to make the time pass.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Jul 17, 2020 21:00:40 GMT -5
L listened from around the corner, not coming any closer. He didn’t need to come closer to hear what Orpheus was saying. Who was Hermes? Was that the name of the voice that had spoken? L found he would really like to have some answers, and soon, but he didn’t let himself come any closer. He didn’t quite dare, for one thing, and he also didn’t want Orpheus to know he was there anymore. Even the instrument on his back was something he wanted nothing to do with anymore, but his curiosity was just too strong. He couldn’t walk away. He had to know what Orpheus had done, and what Hermes has done to him (and L) in response. He also was a bit concerned about the effects of whatever had happened to him. Yes. Answers would be good. He didn’t know why Orpheus was so upset. Wasn’t long life a good thing? How long was long, anyway? L gritted his teeth against the flood of questions, because he had no answers for them. None at all. That was why he had to stay. That was why he had to watch this stranger. He listened silently, the lyre on his back, as Orpheus let the sobs consume him. He knew grief when he saw it. How many on the street were the same way? But he didn’t know what the grief was for, or why it was consuming Orpheus. He could have asked, but he didn’t dare come close enough to speak. He didn’t trust this stranger with a strange punishment and a strange instrument that he now carried. He didn’t trust him, and he was afraid of him. He tried not to be afraid. He tried to stay calm, to think of all the ways this could be explained away, but the only thing he could imagine was a curse, like the ones he’d heard sung about as a child, when his parents had been alive. Of course, that was before the fire. Before the curse that had struck L as a young child, and left him an orphan. Was he doomed to catch the effects of every curse that came near him? He swallowed. At least, when his parents had died, he had known why. He had understood that it was his fault. This time his only fault was kindness, the desire to help a stranger. What curse was this? He tended as Orpheus got up, but the stranger was only walking away. Stumbling, more accurately. L hesitated, then made up his mind and began to follow at a distance, sticking to the shadows.
If Orpheus had turned around, he might have noticed L. He might have seen him dodging in and out of the shadows and he might have asked him if he was okay. He might have focused his attention on helping a stranger rather than on the grief that threatened to swallow him if he let it. He was tempted. He had known people who were driven mad by the loss of a loved one, who had gone down in history because of their lost wits. Orpheus would much rather lose his mind than lose his death. At least in death there was peace, and he had a feeling there would be no finding that anymore. He gave a soft sigh, his gaze flitting down to the grass besides the road. There were flowers blooming there, the same type Orpheus himself had encouraged to sprout with music. The kind he had given Eurydice, the kind he’d found on the ground when she was gone. Yes, those, the ruby red he had associated with love, once, and now associated more with blood, but also others. “Lady Persephone,” he murmured under his breath, the thought enough to cut through the grief at least a little bit. As much as he blamed Hades for what had happened, as afraid as he was of the future, the flowers were a good sign. The sun wasn’t scorching hot and there were clouds lightly dotting the horizon. Spring, he thought numbly. He’d done this, but it didn’t matter. None of it mattered without Eurydice, and though he calmed his heart and took in a deep breath, part of him resented the flowers. The song he’d dedicated his life to was someone else’s. And now that he wasn’t the proper conduit… every bit of music he’d once harbored in his soul now felt like it was gone. He knelt down after a moment, picking a flower that rested next to the one Orpheus couldn’t stand to look at. He held it up to the sun and watched the way the sunlight seemed to filter through the petals. He was tired, and he was hurt, and the flower was enough to distract him, if only for a moment. Holding the flower lightly between his fingers, Orpheus straightened up again and returned to his ambling walk. He would never again grow flowers with his voice. He didn’t know if he’d ever be able to bring himself to even plant them. What he could do, though, was let the flower dangle upside down and let the wind catch the pollen and take it someplace new. Persephone had been kind to him. He might as well return the favor. After a mile or two, he let the flower drop from his fingertips and just continued moving forward.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Jul 23, 2020 14:44:35 GMT -5
L was trying very hard not to be seen. He was trying, but truthfully, he wasn’t used to that being a possibility. He wasn’t used to hiding for the simple reason that he wasn’t used to being seen at all, as anything more than another lost boy on the street. He didn’t expect Orpheus to care. He only hid because he didn’t know what to expect now, from the man who had the voice. He was afraid of what he didn’t understand, and try as he might to quell that fear, it wasn’t always possible. So he hid, and he waited for something to come along that he did understand. He didn’t notice the flowers. He stepped on some of them, without looking down, and he didn’t notice. Even if he had, he probably wouldn’t have reacted to them, because to him they were just flowers. Nothing more. It was spring, he realized. It hadn’t been spring in a long time. He smelled the flowers on the gentle breeze, calling him, and he heard the song of birds far above him, calling. It was beautiful, if only he could have enjoyed it. He couldn’t. Not when he didn’t know what was happening. Not when he was afraid of the curse he thought he now bore, the curse he didn’t understand. Life. Wasn’t it a blessing? Or was he just naive, and shortsighted? What was he missing here? He didn’t know what Orpheus was going through, he had no way of knowing that. He just wanted Orpheus to explain what had happened, but he didn’t dare come any closer, not when he suspected curses were involved. He was afraid of what he didn’t understand, and this, this he had no chance of understanding. The instrument was heavy on his back. He wanted to put it down, but he didn’t, because it still felt like something he should return, even if he didn’t dare. He watched Orpheus pick the flower, and his dark eyes followed it as the other man held it up. It was beautiful, but that’s not what he noticed. What he saw was a man trying to be distracted, a man trying not to think about what had just happened. What he saw was an attempt to think about anything, anything else. And failing. Because a moment later, Orpheus kept moving, ambling along without a purpose. The flower didn’t help, it seemed. He followed. Eventually, Orpheus’ let the flower drop, and L carefully retrieved it, sniffed it, then dropped it again. Nothing. He continued to follow, watching Orpheus like a cat.
Orpheus was beginning to notice the effects of not aging. They were subtle, of course, but by the time he was 70 years old, it was hard not to notice. It was hard not to mourn the fact that his face hadn’t changed since he’d lost Eurydice. He’d become a sort of anti-Narcissus, refusing to look at his face in the mirror unless he absolutely had to. He kept hoping for wrinkles, at the very least, or some sign that the curse Hades had cast wasn’t real. No such luck. He’d had to move, at least twice. From Thrace to Athens, then Athens to Sparta. Life had continued on. The heroes Orpheus had befriended (or… tolerated) on board the Argo had all died or become gods themselves, though Orpheus genuinely didn’t know which was which. It was all the same to him, they didn’t exist on the mortal plane anymore. Orpheus was, at least as far as he knew, completely alone. It was an existence that was difficult to tolerate. Sitting in front of his fire and gently scraping part of his food in as he whispered prayers to Hestia, he wished for music. A lute or a lyre, anything to keep the silence at bay. At least music had begun creeping its way back into his life. Not audibly, but melodies had returned to his head. He had tried to suppress them for a long time, but they were not so easily thwarted. He tapped a rhythm on the floor next to the fireplace, a small smile twitching across his face until he heard a knock at the door. Brow furrowed, Orpheus went to answer it. He wasn’t expecting anyone… The man at the door was stern and held his chest up high, a posture Orpheus hadn’t been able to adopt even in his decades without the added weight of the lyre. He was older, too, though Orpheus had the feeling that chronologically, he probably had a few years on the man. A soldier, it seemed. “We march on Troy in one week’s time,” the man said, assessing Orpheus carefully. “They have taken Helen from our fair city, and it is for her honor – our honor – that we fight. We demand that all able bodied men join us.” Orpheus frowned, glancing at the man and searching his face carefully. “I’m not a warrior,” he said quietly. “Or a healer. I will not take lives.” The man made a face. “Where is your courage?” “In knowing the kind of man I wish to be. I’ll leave Sparta in the morning, but I will not be joining your army.” How could he send anyone towards Hades? How dare he, when he knew what lay after life? No, Orpheus would not be fighting anybody. “Good evening.” He met the soldier’s gaze with his own, wiser and harsher than a man his age should have been capable of. He was still a man in mourning, but age had made his ideals settle. “You best not be here when we set out,” the man hissed, refusing to appear cowed. Nevertheless, Orpheus knew he had won. He let out a deep breath, any strength fading from him as the man moved on to the next house.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Jul 26, 2020 19:44:55 GMT -5
L, too, had noticed the lack of change in his own body. He still got hungry and thirsty, and he still ate and drank, but his hair was still the same raven black it had been too many years ago, and his face still looked barely out of his twenties. He was beginning to have the horrible suspicion that the curse was real. What that meant was beyond him. He knew it meant he didn’t seem to age, but did it mean he wouldn’t die? Couldn’t die? What were the limits, if any? If he, for example, were shot in the heart, would he bleed out? Would he heal? Or would he simply be trapped in his own body as it failed, unable to be released? That was perhaps what he was most afraid of. Being trapped. He was still following the stranger (or not so strange any longer) that had caused all this to begin with, but he had yet to show his face. He also still carried the instrument on his back, though some had asked for a song and he’d been forced to admit he didn’t know how to use it. That had been a bit of an awkward conversation, since few people were prone to carrying musical instruments they couldn’t play. Orpheus had moved. Not too far, but he had traveled far more than L had ever expected to in his life. Thrace, Athens, Sparta...all the places he had never expected to see. Well, he’d seen them. And he’d spent that time, what? Tracking down a man he didn’t even know? No, he knew him, in some way. He had discovered that you couldn’t watch someone for years without getting to know who they seemed to be. And Orpheus seemed to be a wanderer, lost and searching for something he couldn’t seem to find. L didn’t know what he was looking for, but he discovered that he hoped he found it. Maybe it would bring him peace. He still didn’t know how he felt about all this. In some ways, of course he didn’t want to die. There was a lot he wanted to do. But the world was changing around him, while he stayed the same, and that frightened him more than he cared to admit, even to himself. He froze, all thoughts draining from his mind, as he saw the soldier approach Orpheus’ door and knock. Then Orpheus was there, and L slipped closer, trying to hear what he was saying. Oh. Oh no. Orpheus didn’t strike him as a killer. He didn’t know why, but he couldn’t see the man hurting anyone, not even someone who deserved it. Not even in war. He held his breath as he heard Orpheus’ answer, then finally let it out as the soldier gave in, though clearly angry about it. He watched from the shadows, observing. Waiting for Orpheus to go back inside so he could set up camp and keep watch. Was it an obsession? Or simply what he did now? He didn’t know.
Orpheus was about to close the door when he noticed a glint of light off a pale face just a few paces away. His eyes narrowed as he tried to make out who it was. It didn’t seem to be someone he recognized, but then again, Orpheus had seen a lot of faces in his lifetime. If he had encountered this man before, it was entirely likely he’d forgotten him. He glanced back in the direction the soldier had gone in, wondering if he had left someone to make sure Orpheus couldn’t make it out by morning, like he’d promised. But based on the way the man was watching him, he really didn’t think that likely. The man – scarcely more than a boy, honestly, though there was something in his eyes that made Orpheus believe he wasn’t as young as he seemed – didn’t seem the type to be a soldier. Orpheus had travelled with too many of that type before, and he knew it when he saw it. Though there was something on his back that could be a weapon… somehow, Orpheus doubted. Another glance back at the soldier gave Orpheus an idea of why the man was there. He took a deep breath, looking back in the direction he’d seen the man. “They’re trying to draft people,” he said quietly, though he had a feeling the man already knew that. “They won’t come back here, they already know I’m a lost cause. If… if you don’t want them to bother you, you’re welcome to uh… come in.” He shifted and opened the door a little further, giving a small sigh. He didn’t know if he was doing the right thing, but if he could save one person from being sent to their deaths in a war that made no sense… well, he would certainly do the best he could. He almost withdrew back into his home, as though sensing maybe he wasn’t supposed to be talking to the man, but he had to try. “You don’t have to, of course,” he added, talking to himself as much as to the stranger. Come to think of it, there was something familiar about his face, but he couldn’t quite place it. He’d seen so many faces, more faces than he should have, probably. He’d been places he never expected to go, but it was for his own safety as it was for a want to travel. “I just thought… there’s a room open. If you want to wait until the troops depart in the morning. They won’t come after you.” At least… Orpheus didn’t think they would. He didn’t think they would come after him either, not after what he’d told the soldier. As long as he got out of there soon enough. He left the door propped open, letting the man make his own decision. He moved into the kitchen, prepared to offer the man something to eat or drink, if he wanted it. Based on the fact he’d been barefoot, Orpheus didn’t think he probably had a place to stay or food on the table. It was the least Orpheus could do.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Jul 26, 2020 23:53:26 GMT -5
L knew he’d been seen the moment Orpheus’ eyes landed on him, and he froze. He could run, but that would call even more attention to him, which was the last thing he wanted. So he stood still, waiting for Orpheus to simply ignore him, because that was what people did with young men who were obviously completely alone in the entire world. He didn’t even have shoes, not that he would have worn them if he had them. He’d never liked the things. They were so uncomfortable they were almost painful. He didn’t know what Orpheus was thinking. He couldn’t tell whether the man was ignoring him, or simply considering what his next actions should be. He wanted to believe he wouldn’t be shouted at or chased away, but he couldn’t be sure, because if Orpheus caught one that he was being followed...he could be angry. He might even have been right to be angry. L didn’t know. He’d never been caught before. He didn’t dare move, not even to back away into the shadows. He’d come too close in order to listen in, and he was paying for it now. He supposed if he were chased off, he could simply come back later, but it would be a lot harder to follow someone who suspected they were being followed. He wasn’t entirely sure why he was still so focused on this project, anyway. What did he hope to uncover? The reason he looked not a day older than when he’s first met this stranger? Did he really believe Orpheus held that answer? He did. He didn’t know whether Orpheus was aware of it, but he thought he had the answer, nonetheless. If he were wrong, it seemed he had all the time in the world to figure that out. Curses were not something he typically messed with. But if he were already cursed to live, then what was the worst that could happen? Would he be cursed to die? How could both those things be curses, if they were opposites? One had to be a blessing. Which one? Stop overthinking this. He ordered himself. Then he heard Orpheus, and his heart stopped. So he had been seen. Well...that was something to deal with. He prepared himself for harsh words, but he received none. Instead, there was real kindness in the offer. Oh. He thought L was a poor man looking for a way out of being drafted. Guilt blossomed in his chest at the thought. He was stalking this man, and the man himself, when he finally noticed, offered him a place to stay. He swallowed the discomfort back as best he could and focused on staying still. At least Orpheus retreated soon after. That was nice of him, L thought bleakly. Now this was going to be a lot harder though, because he might be watching out for someone in the future. Was he going to give up? Of course not. He had nowhere else to go.
If Orpheus knew he was being followed, it might have been a different story. Maybe. But he’d been lonely since the curse had taken effect, and he hadn’t even had his music to keep him company. If someone was following him and they hadn’t hurt him… maybe there was something nice about the idea of having someone nearby. Or perhaps his long life was just slowly driving him insane, because who wanted a stalker? The last time someone had followed Orpheus… he swallowed, pressing his hand into a fist where it rested on the countertop. He had no proof that this man was following him, just that he seemed to have pinpointed Orpheus as someone who wouldn’t want to fight in a war and had ostensibly decided to stick around when he had seen the way Orpheus talked to the soldier. He gave a small sigh and began fixing up a glass of water. He had wine stored for any potential guests, but he hadn’t had guests in… well, fifty years. Still, he figured that part of being a good host meant having refreshments, and most people didn’t hate the taste of wine as much as he did. Besides, with the way the man in the street had looked, Orpheus doubted he wanted wine. Orpheus wondered if he should start attempting to make something for dinner, but he hadn’t talked to the man yet, and he didn’t want to make something he wouldn’t eat. He peered into the front room briefly, wondering if the stranger was going to take him up on his offer. It was a nice way to avoid getting sent to fight a war you didn’t believe in, but maybe Orpheus had judged him wrong. Maybe he was there to make sure Orpheus left by morning. Perhaps Orpheus had made the wrong move in offering him a place to stay the night. No, Orpheus scolded himself silently, You did a good thing, regardless of who that turns out to be. Orpheus gave another moments’ thought before disappearing into the back garden to grab some grapes for his guest. He would have to pack everything up and move soon, but for now he just wanted to make sure that the man who had been watching from the shadows was taken care of. Besides, Orpheus was curious about the look he’d seen when their eyes had met.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Jul 30, 2020 15:02:34 GMT -5
L didn’t expect Orpheus to want him to be there. He didn’t think that was likely to ever happen. He just wanted answers, real ones, and he didn’t expect Orpheus to give them willingly. So he had to find them for himself. He hoped he hadn’t had his location given away. If he had, then he would need to figure out his next move very carefully. No need to panic just yet though. It was very possible Orpheus was currently assuming it was a coincidence. He wasn’t likely to jump to any conclusions. Right? Right. Hopefully. He of course didn’t approach. Getting to know Orpheus now would be a mistake. He didn’t want to be recognized in the future. He wanted to be invisible He just forgot he wasn’t actually invisible. Orpheus was right, he wouldn’t have wanted any wine. He was hungry, but he was ignoring that for the moment. Sweets were hard to come by, anyway. He doubted Orpheus had any. He was tempted to throw caution to the wind and come closer. He wanted to see what Orpheus was really like, he wanted to get a taste of this odd man’s character. But he couldn’t afford to. He’d come too far to go back now, he wouldn’t mess this up. He found himself hoping Orpheus wasn’t upset about it. He didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, even if it was sometimes necessary. If he’s known about the grapes, he might have given in. He was starving, actually. When had he last eaten? He didn’t remember. It had been a long time, though. He didn’t seem to be dying. That was interesting. Maybe he couldn’t starve to death? Not something he wanted to test out, necessarily. Maybe he should find some food soon.
Orpheus hadn’t wanted to leave Sparta, but he was glad he had been forced to. Athens was a nice place, and they had more job opportunities that didn’t involve fighting in wars. It suited Orpheus perfectly well to be able to help bake bread or set up candles at the altars or whatever his current place of employment needed. He had learned to switch jobs every two years or so and work odd hours so his neighbors didn’t notice that he hadn’t changed. He’d been planning on celebrating his 88th birthday alone for a few days, and had just purchased a small sweet roll at a bakery nearby just for himself. He wasn’t used to looking in the mirror and still seeing the same face. It felt odd to know that he likely would have been close to passing on, had Hades not levered this curse. Loneliness, though temporarily kept at bay by bosses and interactions with the people he passed on a daily basis, was looming nearby. Yes, this was the curse Hades had chosen. Hades knew what he was doing – after all, he had designed the Fields of Punishment. He was carrying the sweet roll carefully, making sure not to let it drop. He was almost home when he turned his head to look at the sky, knowing which constellations would lay above him. The constellations he had grown up with, though some of them now held different names. Hell, some were now named after people he had known and been almost friends with. The thought was bittersweet. Orpheus lowered his gaze, about to continue on when he spotted something – someone, rather – crouched besides a building. His eyes narrowed and he almost approached, but there was something nagging at him – the face was familiar. “Hello?” he asked, hoping to draw the figure out. He didn’t particularly want to be mugged – all he had on his person was the sweet roll. “Are you alright?” he almost stepped forward then, but his heart, tugging in his chest, stopped him. “I’ve seen you before, haven’t I?” He glanced down at his sweet roll, then up where the man had been. “Oh,” he murmured, watching the now empty corner. It wasn’t until he’d nearly reached home that he realized where he’d seen the man before.
1213 BCE – Pylos
Moving was tiring. Although Orpheus relished the idea of travelling and seeing things, and although he had very little in the way of belongings, he still found the need to pick up and just go… exhausting. He’d been travelling for the past ten years, never stopping anywhere for more than a night, but ten years of traveling was enough for him, for now. If he had given it more than a second’s worth of critical thought, he may have realized that traveling for him was more a form of running away. Running from the people who might recognize him, or perhaps, even more painful, running from every reminder of Eurydice. He purposefully chose places where flowers didn’t bloom as well in the spring, though with Persephone back in full force, those were few and far between. He closed his eyes and forced himself onward, into the city. Pylos wasn’t the center of anything that Orpheus knew of. While that meant it was likely he’d be part of some world changing historical event again, it also meant that the population was smaller and the chances of being recognized as what he was increased. He’d rather not be persecuted for witchcraft, though the irony of that wasn’t lost on him. If people found out what he was, they would try to kill him for blasphemy. Yet the curse was placed by one of the same gods they claimed to be defending. He lowered his head, shifting the weight of his belongings on his shoulder. If Orpheus received weird looks upon entering the city, he didn’t pay them any heed. He merely continued forward, looking for some place to spend the night. For perhaps the first time since the curse struck, Orpheus found himself rather lucky. One of the first buildings he stopped at had a vacancy. He made quick work of paying and moving his stuff in, relieved to see his temporary room had a window. He pushed aside the light fabric curtain and leaned forward to look outside. He was – by some luxury – on the second level of the building. He surveyed the people below him, finding joy in the way people went about their lives. In the way they interacted and knew each other, how the woman in fine garments shared a brief flirtation with the blacksmith… he shifted his gaze and found his eyes locking with a pair of dark eyes that disappeared from sight only moments later. It was odd, he knew, but he couldn’t forget those eyes. Perhaps he was just hallucinating. Perhaps he was trying to convince himself he wasn’t so alone.
1178 BCE – Ithaca, Days Before the Eclipse
Orpheus was slowly but surely getting used to immortality. He had made a practice of laying low, not staying in one place for too long. Ithaca was large enough that he felt safe enough to settle. He had picked up music again, about a decade ago. He never played the song – Eurydice’s song – anymore, but he did play. It had taken a while to build the callouses again, but he’d managed. He still needed to find work in order to afford the humble house he’d been living in, but when he wasn’t busy he found himself on street corners, playing for anyone who happened by. He usually drew a small crowd, and sometimes he played songs the little ones would know, and he sang with them, but for now the street corner was empty. It made sense – it was too early for most people to be up, other than the people whose trade required them to be. Still he played, making sure he was far away enough from residential homes so as not to be a disturbance. It had cost almost a whole year’s wages to afford an instrument. He’d settled on a pandura, unable to bring himself to purchase a lyre. Those days were still behind him. He strummed quietly, letting his eyes close for just a moment. When he opened them, a tiny flash of movement from a building across the street caught his eye. “You don’t have to stay away,” he called, standing up and hoping to get a better look. He’d seen just a hint of dark hair and a large, dark eye. It had looked… familiar to him, though he wasn’t quite sure why. No, he knew why, but he wasn’t ready to admit it to himself yet. “You can stay and listen, if you want?” What Orpheus didn’t say was that he’d much prefer if whoever it was did stay. He was far too lonely without company. When the shadow – if it really had been a person, rather than an actual shadow – didn’t respond, Orpheus gave a small sigh and sat himself back down. Who was he fooling?
1178 – Ithaca, The Solar Eclipse
It was a normal day. Orpheus had finished his work early and had been allowed to leave, and he had, as he usually did, taken up residence on a street corner and was playing softly. His eyes were closed, letting the music wash over him, when he heard a startled gasp. His eyes shot open and he stood up, expecting to face some sort of threat. He managed to calm his pounding heart when he found someone just pointing up into the sky. “The gods must be angry!” No, Orpheus thought to himself, When the gods are angry, they’re much more personal about letting you know. He was thankful that he hadn’t heard Hades’ voice again after that first time, but he still remembered that as though it was yesterday. That had been the defining moment of his life. That, and when he had turned around. He groaned, trying to push the thought out of his mind and direct his attention towards where the person was pointing. It was suddenly very dark, and Orpheus’ eyes widened. It was like night in the middle of the day, the sun exploding in brilliant rays behind something – the moon, presumably – covering it. Orpheus knew little about astronomy, but it was still fascinating. He left his street corner and approached the woman who had called out. “It is a sign,” he agreed quietly, “Though I don’t think it’s an ill omen.” He was about to say more when he noticed someone beyond the woman. Dark hair. Thin frame. The woman all but forgotten, Orpheus moved forwards a few steps, within earshot of the shadow that had disappeared. “Érebos.” Titan of shadows, the hidden one. “I’ve seen you before,” his voice was quiet, and though his gaze wasn’t directed at where he’d seen the man, his words were. “You always bear the same face… I think we’re beyond coincidence here.” He let his gaze flicker back up to the sun, still just a blazing halo. “Talk to me, please? Who are you?” His voice was soft, aching, almost desperate. He didn’t truly expect a response.
1147 BCE – Athens
At first, Orpheus was afraid he had frightened Érebos away forever. The strange man who had been following him for a hundred years, maybe more. Perhaps he was wrong and it had just been coincidence, but… Sparta, Athens, Pylos, Ithaca… no, it couldn’t have been. The thought had faded into background noise, however, as Orpheus continued to live his daily life. He had spent a few years as a travelling musician, but when it became clear that his fellow travelers were aging where he was not, he had bidden them farewell and headed off on his own again. He looked for Érebos, where he could, but he was never in plain sight. Arriving in Athens again felt something like he imagined arriving home would. He hadn’t gone back to Pieria, or even near Thrace in general for fear that it had changed too much since he had last been there, but he thought of it often. He remembered every place he’d been fondly – there was always something there that stopped him from wanting to leave. He doubted he’d ever see the vast majority of them again. Athens, though, was large enough that he felt he wouldn’t be noticed. He could play in peace and worship the gods when he chose to. He still did, even after what had been done to him. If anything, he prayed to Persephone even more. After all, she had shown him kindness, and she had tempered Hades. He missed the days when she and Mr. Hermes would frequent the restaurant he’d worked at and spend the evening dancing. It had been too long since Orpheus had reached out to Mr. Hermes. It had been easier to pretend to be alone in the world. Perhaps it was time. Orpheus took his time, taking a deep breath before he entered the temple dedicated to Hermes. He lit a candle and knelt in front of it, a handful of Hermes’ favorite fruit besides him. And he spoke to the man who had raised him, careful not to disturb anyone else. The world had gotten larger. Hermes was a busy man. Still, Orpheus hoped he would see him eventually. He was so tired of being alone. After what felt like enough time, he stood up and turned to go. Out of the corner of his eye he caught the brief flash of movement as someone shifted so as not to be seen. Orpheus was able to withhold his smile until he was certain Érebos wouldn’t be able to see him. Whether it was a message from Hermes or not, Orpheus felt his heart warm.
1128 BCE – Thebes
It was no longer a question of whether Orpheus was going to see Érebos, but a question of where he was going to be. He wasn’t great at guessing, but the feeling of being watched, being followed, was no longer frightening. Perhaps it never was frightening. If Orpheus had found out sooner he may have been freaked out, but now there was just the knowledge that he wasn’t alone. Even if he didn’t see Érebos much at all, he got used to knowing he was there. He learned to tell when he was being watched and when he had privacy. Thebes was different from most of the other cities Orpheus had been to. For one, it was one of the cities he had heard much about during his time on the Argo. Although he’d disliked Heracles more than he cared to admit, he had seen the city through his eyes more than once. It was hard to imagine this town as the home of a hero. Heracles had died a long time ago. It was strange, to think of him now, and to know what fate had befallen him. Nobody would light his funeral pyre, as Orpheus had heard. Orpheus didn’t know why he found himself singing Heracles’ story when he finally found a place to play. He didn’t know why he hoped that Érebos wasn’t listening. He knew he was, he could feel the other man there. Perhaps the song was born of nostalgia. Perhaps it was mourning for someone from another life. Perhaps it was just because Orpheus couldn’t pass through a former companion’s homeland without acknowledging it. He didn’t know when he had started crying; he had certainly never planned to shed a tear for the violent Heracles. Deep down, he hoped he had found peace. Deeper down, he found himself envious of the ease with which Heracles had passed on. Eventually, Orpheus knew, he would be the only one who knew the true story. It was already beginning to happen – he saw a mother drag her child away from his playing, shaking her head at the “misrepresentation” of their town’s hero. Orpheus let out a shaky sigh, playing the last notes and looking directly where he assumed Érebos likely to be. It was as though he felt him there, through some power he didn’t understand. He wondered if his shadow felt the same about his past.
1104 BCE – Cyprus
Moving had become second nature to Orpheus. He learned to read people better than he ever had before, learned to tell when they were getting suspicious, and learned to craft a new backstory himself everywhere he went. He tried to fit it to the changing times, tried to choose a place of origin that people had heard of, had a dozen fake names in his arsenal. He had adapted to the life he’d been forced to lead, even if he didn’t like it. The past several years had been spent homing in on where Érebos was likely to be. Orpheus had it down to a science, now, where exactly Érebos was, and when. While he would have described it as a gut feeling, it really was an evolution of several hundred flickers of movement out of the corner of his eye, an analysis of his own habits… Érebos didn’t like to be seen, and he’d gotten better at it, but Orpheus had learned. Although he rarely acknowledged his shadow, it was nice to know he was there. Life on an island was different than life anywhere else, Orpheus learned, but he had learned to fish relatively quickly. Érebos watched him from the shadows of the market, just out of sight. Orpheus hadn’t received confirmation of that, of course – the other man was too good at hiding for Orpheus to be able to see him without explicitly looking – but he knew. Érebos settled near the trees outside Orpheus’ temporary living space. It couldn’t even be called a house, really. At first Orpheus had made a point of looking where he knew Érebos to be, but he’d given that up. Érebos could have left at any time, could have abandoned ship when he knew he’d been discovered, but he hadn’t. Orpheus didn’t want any excuse to drive him away. After all, whoever he was, their fates were tied together. Orpheus didn’t know what the man had done to earn his curse, or if he’d done anything at all, but if Érebos wanted to come to him on his own terms, Orpheus would be ready. For now, he set off on another fishing mission, providing the crew with music for the way there, and for the way back. He knew Érebos would still be on the dock when he returned.
1080 BCE – Pithom, Egypt
The world was changing, and Orpheus wasn’t changing with it. He knew he needed to adapt, but he couldn’t do that in Greece. It was too familiar, too much a part of his memories. He could not be anything other than the boy who lost everything. The boy who had saved some lives on a ship a long time ago, and who had failed to save the life that ultimately mattered the most. Moving somewhere else, while difficult, was his best option. While making it to Egypt had taken a year at the least (the days blended together to the point that Orpheus was barely aware of the date), he found it a less forgiving place than he’d expected. The desert was hot and the people… different. Picking up the language didn’t take as long as Orpheus expected, and though he still spoke in broken sentences, at least he was understood. There, at his shoulder, a constant presence even here, was Érebos. Nobody spoke Greek except for (presumably), him. Orpheus doubted you could live in a country for more than 200 years without picking up the language, even if you didn’t appear to talk to anyone. It was a struggle, having nobody around who shared the same songs or cuisine or even manner of expressing themselves. As a traveler, it may have been fascinating. As a glimpse into what his life would be like permanently as soon as Greece fell (and Orpheus wasn’t an idiot, Greece was going to fall eventually), he didn’t like it much. “Thank you,” he murmured quietly as he was paid for the day (they even used different currency, when they used currency at all). He stepped out of the building and into the glaring sun, squeezing his eyes shut and letting out a massive sigh. He barely made it a few feet before he sense Érebos behind the nearest building, maybe a few paces out of sight. “Érebos,” he murmured quietly, switching easily to Greek. For the first time in a while, he looked directly at the spot he presumed the other man to be. “Would you join me for dinner? We could find something a little more familiar?” he waited a few moments for an answer, then gave a soft sigh and let his weary feet carry him home. He’d had to get rid of the pandura – nobody played that in Egypt. Almost on reflex, he left the door open the way he had the very first night he’d invited Érebos in, before he’d even known who he was.
1065 BCE – Pi-Ramesses, Egypt
The longer Orpheus spent away from Greece, the more natural it felt. Of course, he wasn’t ready to trade in Apollo for Ra or Demeter for Osiris or even Hades for Anubis, but he was adjusting. He still lit candles to the gods he believed in, but he doubted they noticed him in a realm where other gods seemed to take hold. Orpheus knew he probably should let go, but he didn’t. He gave offerings when he could afford them, if only because it felt like a solid tie to his life before. It felt like a tie to life when he wasn’t sure what lay ahead of him. His skills in the language – even as it varied by province – had improved significantly, and it was only the color of his skin at some point that denoted he had come from someplace else. He smiled at the people he passed by, and he tried to remember their names as well as he could. He picked flowers and gave them to children dancing in the street. He tried to live as well as he could, given the circumstances. At night, he sat and wrote in a language he hadn’t heard anyone speak in decades. Lyrics upon lyrics, songs he doubted he would ever sing outside the privacy of his temporary home. He clung to the lyre that had been returned to him with a sort of reverence, though he’d not mentioned it to the person who had given it back – Érebos, he was certain – other than a brief, whispered ‘thank you.’ Although it was from another place, when he played on street corners, that was what he used. He let children and curious youth hold it and play a few notes, he taught them the beginning of the songs that were most popular in these small cities. He noted how young they seemed, and how old he felt. Orpheus wrote for the life he remembered, the life he’d wanted to have. He wrote for the gods he’d known and the world he left behind. He wrote for Érebos, the man who kept him company but never said a word. It was hard to know he was there without forming some sort of idea of who he was. Orpheus just wished he knew the truth. Orpheus sat out in the midday sun, not bothering to find something nicer to sit on than the ground. His lyre was in his lap, and he let his eyes close for just a moment. A plate of fruit was on the ground beside him, resting in the sand of the river bank. He could hear its soft rushing, a sound he would normally use as a baseline for his music. “I’ll play any song you want, Érebos,” he murmured. It was in Greek, as always. Their little secret, something nobody else could understand. “Sit with me. Have some fruit.” It wasn’t a demand, it never was. Just a question, an invitation. There was only one man Orpheus could let his walls down around. It was just a shame he didn’t even know his name.
1046 BCE – Yin, China
If there was one thing Orpheus could say about China, it was that they had fantastic instruments. He had chosen a guqin on arriving, at the recommendation of a shop owner. Although he still carried his lyre around, he found the guqin much more adaptable to the music of the region. He found that the easiest way to learn the language. He would sit with a group of musicians and hear them speak to each other, learn the music they played, and learn from the lyrics. What was the point in learning a language if you couldn’t express yourself poetically within its confines? Orpheus gave a small smile, falling into tune of a song about the fall of the latest dynasty. He had seen Yin transformed from a gleaming capitol city into a place only the desperate stayed. It was no longer an important city, and most of the residents had taken notice and left for somewhere more profitable. It had only been a few months. The name of the city denoted music making, how could Orpheus not stay for as long as humanly possible? He sighed, finishing out the song and bidding farewell to the players who had let him join them for the past several months. They were moving on as well. Orpheus sighed, packing up his instrument and making his way back to his house. It, like everything else, was going to fall apart soon. Too soon. Almost ceremonially, he lowered his teapot over the fire and let the water boil. He didn’t know when he’d started crying. There were places he wanted to visit that he never would be able to. The world was falling apart and rebuilding itself too fast for Orpheus to understand. He was just a boy from Thrace who might have grown up to be a king. He was never going to grow up. Perhaps he was technically an adult, perhaps he felt much, much older, but he was going to be 22 forever. Until Hades decided it was time. Orpheus wiped the tears from his cheeks and stood up, pouring the tea into two cups on reflex. He left one out for Érebos, and let the other warm his hands. “What do you say, Érebos?” he murmured into the darkness, not bothering to change out of Chinese. It felt right, to honor the city he was watching fall right before his eyes. “Do we leave tomorrow for someplace new?” He tossed back his own cup of tea and left the second at the open window. If Érebos didn’t want it, perhaps someone else would enjoy it. Orpheus wasn’t planning to check on his way out.
998 BCE – Sardinia, Italy
Orpheus had spent a lot of time travelling. He didn’t speak to many people, and he’d learned what it was like to nearly starve to death. Nearly. It appeared, somehow, that he couldn’t starve to death unless the situation was truly dire. That was a good thing to know, but not something he had ever wanted to learn. He wanted to apologize to Érebos for the long journey, for the years and years of walking, but he didn’t. He had heard of a civilization on an island he’d never heard of, and though they weren’t as advanced as anywhere Orpheus had ever been, he didn’t care. He just wanted someplace where he could live near enough to food and people that there was still music to hear. He wanted to see the ocean again, wanted to just… exist without scrutiny. He wanted somewhere he could stay for a long time without being noticed. Orpheus was tired. The years had dragged on and Érebos had said nothing, and Orpheus was sick, so sick of being alone. If he were a different person, he might have yelled at Érebos. He wasn’t the sort that could ever raise his voice, though. He wasn’t going to pressure the man to come speak to him if he didn’t want to. He'd had years to think about it – Érebos had his lyre. Which meant either he’d been immortal before Orpheus was (which was unlikely unless Hades asked him to watch over Orpheus), or he’d been turned in the same event. In which case it was Orpheus’ fault. The journey was a way to shake Érebos, perhaps. If he were sane, he wouldn’t follow. Orpheus didn’t know if he wanted him there or not. When he finally reached the island, full of people speaking a language he didn’t understand, with customs that were so far from anything Orpheus was familiar with, he had gone to the very edge, where nobody seemed to be, and just lay down. Life weighed heavily on him, and though he could have reached out to his gods, he wondered if this time he’d journeyed too far for them to find him. He was tired. He had no tears left to cry. He had songs, but none of them were good enough to express the anguish he felt about an eternity more of this. Three hundred years. Everyone he’d ever known, every last one, dead. Every hope he’d ever had for their futures, gone in the snap of a finger. Not even Érebos could help this one. Orpheus stared at the sky, waiting for the sun to go down. How many of his friends were in the stars now? How many had become the heroes they’d wanted to be? How many had failed? He didn’t know how many days had passed before he next felt Érebos nearby, but he hadn’t moved from where he lay in the soft grass. The sun had scorched his light skin, but it would heal eventually. Everything did, apparently, other than the gaping wound that reopened every morning when he woke up alone. “It’s been a while,” he murmured to the shadow. “I almost thought you didn’t follow me here.” He was silent for several long moments. “Follow someone else. There’s nothing more to see here.”
976 BCE – Sardinia, Italy
Isolation, it seemed, had worked wonders for Orpheus. He had thrown himself fervently back into songwriting after staring at the sky had gotten boring. He had expected Érebos to leave, but he hadn’t. Orpheus found more comfort in that than he probably should have. It was selfish and he knew it, but it was Érebos’ decision to stay. After about a decade alone, Orpheus had found his way towards the civilization on the island for more than just bartering. He learned their language, helped them when they needed it, and became friends with many of the locals. Friends he knew he would never see again, friends whose funerals he would never get to attend, but friends anyway. He wondered if Érebos ever spoke to people when Orpheus didn’t feel him around. He wondered if he made friends. It had been so long since Orpheus had even seen his face – he’d gotten much better at hiding and Orpheus had gotten much better at not prying, even though he knew where he was. Even though he knew when he was there. Orpheus remembered his eyes, though. Those dark, intense eyes that had seemed to see right through him. He missed him more than he cared to admit, though he was still there. They’d both been changed by the world. Orpheus tried to stay kind, tried to do good things for other people, but it was hard. He was tired. Despite being “reinvigorated” by his time alone, by the thousands upon thousands of songs he’d sung, the hymns to honor every friend he’d made, every name he remembered… eternity was a long time to be alone. “Here,” he murmured to the man in front of him, one of the village people who was trying to figure out why his roof was leaking. Orpheus removed his guqin from his pack and carefully removed one of the strings. He’d have to find a way to replace that, but right now this man needed it more. Carefully, he used it to attach one piece of material to the other, then offered the man a small smile. “That should hold it for a while.” He considered, then straightened up from where he’d been kneeling, about to put the guqin away. “Would you like me to play for you? I have several songs from far away, but I’d be happy to learn any songs you and your family know as well.” It was nightfall by the time he stepped back outside into the pouring rain. Though he hadn’t expected it, he could feel Érebos nearby. “They’re still so human,” he murmured, reverting back to his original Greek. “I’m frightened of what we’ll become, Érebos, if we live forever.” He gave a small pause. He didn’t know if Érebos was good or bad, but Orpheus had never seen him do harm. After three hundred years of hurting nobody… how could he not be good? “If I become something I wouldn’t like, would you stop me? Would you promise me that?”
931 BCE – Chengzhou, China
Orpheus had only meant to go to China to pick up another string for his guqin, but the journey was long enough that he found it worth it to stay for a number of years. Nobody talked about Yin anymore, though everyone knew someone who had lived there. Orpheus found it easy to fall right back into the traditions and customs of the area, though he never quite ceased lighting candles and giving out offerings to his own gods. He would return to Greece eventually. Somehow, in almost 400 years, it hadn’t fallen. Things had changed, yes, the life Orpheus had lived had become myth, but there were still people living in cities Orpheus had spent decades in. Was he waiting for those cities to fall before he went back? The feeling left an unpleasant feeling in Orpheus’ chest, so he cast the thought away. “Are we friends?” he asked Érebos as he traced the path along the outskirts of the city. He lifted a hand in greeting to one of the guards he saw on a regular basis. He wondered how the guard didn’t seem to notice the girl who stood just within seeing distance and giggled with her friends, her eyes never leaving the guard. Orpheus was tempted to give her the guard’s name, but he didn’t know if it was his place to interfere. The best thing he could do was hint to the guard that perhaps he might look a little closer. Perhaps when he passed back around. “I don’t even know you, I know,” he continued softly, adjusting his guqin where it sat on his back. His lyre was still at home, though it had been years since he had used it. “You’ve been kind to me, though. I can’t… you’ve known me for almost four hundred years. Is it terribly wrong of me to consider you a friend? To wish to know you better?” As usual, Orpheus was met with silence. He turned his head away, letting his feet carry him even when his mind wasn’t thinking any longer. He reached the Southern border and finally turned back around, no longer paying attention to where Érebos was going to be. He knew anyway. It had been too long for him not to notice the pattern Érebos was likely to take so he wouldn’t be seen. “You’ve got an admirer,” he told the guard as he passed by again. “She always waits there for you,” he added, nodding his head in her direction. The guard blushed, but murmured a quick “Thank you.” Not for the first time, Orpheus wondered if he remembered what it was like to have a connection that could last for more than a year or two. He had taken that opportunity for granted when he’d had it.
930 BCE – Crete
Crete felt like a good place to start. It wasn’t somewhere Orpheus had been often – though he had been there before, it was detached from the rest of Greek society. He could comfortably understand everyone as they spoke, and it felt like returning home without actually having to face the deaths of beloved friends. He hadn’t had many of those, having parted with most of the crew of the Argo on… bittersweet terms… but there were a few. Orpheus didn’t want to have to see their graves. He had already mourned them in song, he didn’t want to see their resting places left in ruins. Who would still tend to them now? They had been dead for centuries. “I’m home, Mr. Hermes,” he said instead as soon as he stepped off the boat. “I prayed to you.” The gods were probably spread thin now. At least it kept Hades’ attention off of him, but there wasn’t anything else good to be said about it. “Your flowers are beautiful, Lady Persephone.” There was no bitterness in his voice now as he leaned down to pick one up and let the wind blow through the petals. The world had healed. The world had forgotten about Eurydice, had forgotten about a time when flowers didn’t bloom like they used to. It meant that for four hundred years, Hades and Persephone had gotten along. Good. That was all Orpheus could have asked for. He turned his gaze towards the nearest tall tree, letting himself believe he could see a tuft of dark hair peeking out from behind the trunk. “Érebos, was Greece your home as well, before?” He had long since learned that any address would go unanswered. That didn’t mean he wasn’t going to try. “I’d like to see your home, eventually. On your terms. Maybe one day I’ll take you back to Thrace. I wonder if my father’s kingdom is still there.” He would never forgive himself if it was destroyed before he got to say goodbye. He hefted his lyre over his shoulder and squeezed his eyes shut. Crete was a good place to start, but it wasn’t going to be enough.
922 BCE – Pimpleia
“Oh.” It was the first word that escaped Orpheus’ lips at the sight of the city he’d been born in exactly 400 years before. He had timed his return well, though he hadn’t initially planned it that way. The city was not the same city Orpheus had spent the majority of his childhood in. It was not the city where he could have been king, had his father chosen to keep him rather than pass him off to the first god to volunteer. It was not the city he used to run around in, the city where Apollo had given him his lyre, where he’d met Eurydice… The city layout had not changed much. He still knew almost every corner, though there were ghosts walking every street. It was not just Érebos’ eyes on Orpheus here. It was Hermes and Persephone and Apollo and Eurydice… gods, Eurydice. He didn’t think it was possible to miss someone for nearly four hundred years, but his heart still shattered when he thought of her. Almost every song of loss was dedicated to her, every stray thought of a love he’d once had… how cruel that she be forced to spend eternity alone without even the sunlight to remind her why she kept moving forward. How cruel that Orpheus himself be doomed to an eternity knowing every luxury he’d deprived her of with his weakness. He still loved her, even after all these years. Part of him thought he always would. There was nothing wrong with that, he decided. It was just a matter of whether he was willing to move on while he still loved her. Orpheus’ feet carried him to what was once the humble home he’d grown up in, where Hermes would return home to each day and tell Orpheus stories, ask about his lessons, wonder about the progress Orpheus had made on his music. The house itself was gone, but the field outside of it was still there. It was covered in hundreds of little blossoming carnations, just as Orpheus remembered from his childhood. He took a few hesitant steps forward, wiping some errant tears off his cheek. There was something in him that screamed that nothing, really had changed. That this was still his home, that he could close his eyes and this would all prove to have been a strange dream. He almost opened his mouth to talk to Mr. Hermes, but something stopped him and instead he turned his attention towards the shadow at the edge of the field. “Érebos.” He felt he knew the man, he really did. He had never met him, didn’t even know his name, but he’d been his constant companion for the vast majority of his lifetime. He had to know him a little bit, right? There was nobody around to hear him now. “You know me. You know… you know I won’t make you speak with me, you know… you know I could have tried to throw you off hundreds of times before, but…” he took a deep breath, trying to focus his thoughts. “You don’t have to respond, I know you’re not going to, and that’s… that’s okay. But I want to know if you look around at the world we’re in and see how much it’s changed. I want to know if you miss what the world was like before, I want to know your name, who you were going to be in that world. I’ve denied it long enough, but it’s my fault you’re here, isn’t it? You were the man on the path, the one who disappeared. I didn’t… gods, Érebos, I didn’t know you got caught up in this, and still you followed me. You’ve followed me as far as I’ve been willing to go, you’ve heard me play millions of songs, learn every instrument I could, and… don’t you ever wish you could step into the sunlight?” He was rambling and he knew it, but he had nobody else to talk to. “Everyone we knew is dead. These streets aren’t the same ones I walked as a boy, but everything’s still here. The faces have changed but the city hasn’t, and maybe I made a mistake bringing us here, I just… I wanted to see it again. I wanted to say goodbye, because I left last time without taking it seriously. I’m… I’m so tired, Érebos. I can’t imagine what it’s like for you. I don’t know if you get lonely, I don’t even know if you care, but you’re literally the only person alive who understands any of what this is like. I don’t know why you’re still here, or why you started following me in the first place…” he was pacing now, his fingers drumming out a rhythm on his legs. “I wish I had answers to any of this. I wish I could explain what happened, or how you got caught up in it, I wish I could understand why you’re still here after so long, when you could have been off doing your own thing years ago. I wish I understood any of this.” He collapsed down into a seated position, trying to keep his voice from wavering. He didn’t succeed. “I’m sorry,” he managed after a few moments. “And I’m sorry I’m selfish, because I can’t even begin to imagine having to do any of this alone. I may not know why you’re here, or who you are, or why you don’t hate me for getting roped up in this – and I’m fairly certain you don’t hate me because you’ve never even tried to hurt me – but I’m glad you’re here. As alone as I am, I’m glad you’re with me.”
899 – Assur, Assyria, The Solar Eclipse
Almost as though ashamed by his outburst, Orpheus hadn’t said a word to Érebos since he had left Pimpleia. There was nothing more to say, and as usual, he hadn’t received a response. He hadn’t expected one. He also hadn’t really expected the man to continue following him after that. He was relieved when he sensed him nearby afterwards, and even more relieved when Érebos had resurfaced upon Orpheus establishing himself in Assur. Settling somewhere new, learning the language, learning how to best help the people he had found himself amongst, and laying low were all things Orpheus had gotten good at. All things that were more or less second nature. There was something about Assur that felt different, though. The timing of it, maybe. Orpheus had felt the winds pulling him there. Perhaps it was just because it was someplace he hadn’t seen. Perhaps for other reasons, ones that were much more difficult to explain. Once, Orpheus would have blamed the gods. Despite his continued worship, they had long ago forsaken him. It made sense when the sky went dark and the air filled with the sounds of startled gasps. It made sense when the sun erupted into a halo of light around a dark moon. “Érebos,” Orpheus whispered, looking for the man. He didn’t see him, but he felt him. He closed his eyes, the halo of the sun burned into his eyelids. He would never stop seeing that when he remembered the realization that he wasn’t alone. He hadn’t been nearly ecstatic as he should have been. “I want to talk to you.” He cast another look up at the sky. “You’ve followed me for four hundred years. You’ve gone everywhere I’ve shown interest in going. Never once have I gone anywhere you want to go. I… I don’t know why you follow me, but if it’s because you believe me dangerous, or because I could do things to get us both in trouble… I won’t move from here until you get back, if you go somewhere you’d like to go.” He fell silent for a few moments, then gave a soft sigh. “I’m not trying to ditch you. You’ve been following me for so long, I’d be happy to follow you anywhere you want to go, if that makes you feel better. We could trade places, even. I may not be great at hiding, but… I could become Érebos, for you. I could stay silent so you could see the world. This… this isn’t fair to you.” He cast another look at the sky, where the sun was beginning to reemerge. “Please. Talk to me, just this once.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Sept 26, 2020 11:28:38 GMT -5
1234 BCE – Athens L had followed Orpheus - that was, indeed, his name - all the way to Athens. He had managed to avoid most of the people who might have stopped him, and he’d only been approached for war once, which was pretty good overall. He’d learned not to get settled. It was never a good idea to start to put down roots only to tear them up again. He knew better than that by now. He ate little. He’d never eaten much, but now he would go days without food and barely notice. He suspected it was because of whatever curse he was under, which he was now quite sure was, in fact, a curse. How did he know? He was 87 and he still looked about 19 or 20. His life would have been close to over by now. Whatever he had given to the world, he ought to have done it already, or not at all. Instead, he barely knew what he was doing. He was still following Orpheus. Why? That was the question he was asking himself. He wanted answers. Maybe that was it. L, too, looked at the sky. It was instinct now to look at one of the only two things that stayed constant, when everything else around him changed and he didn’t. What was the other thing? L looked at the man he was following, and his wide, dark eyes didn’t move. Two people, trapped in time. Two people, playing a dangerous game, and only one of them knew the rules. He crouched beside the building, watching. Were he better at hiding, he would have pulled his head back, but he wasn’t, so he didn’t. Instead he stared unblinkingly as the man spoke to him for the first time. He almost pulled back but didn’t, instead he just sat there like a frightened rabbit, waiting for its sentence to fall. Then Orpheus glanced down and L immediately stepped back into hiding, trying to ignore the way his heart pounded in his chest, the way his heart constricted. He knew he’d been seen. There was nothing he could do about that now. All he could do was try and make sure it didn’t happen again. Maybe he should walk away. Maybe he should just walk away and not follow him anymore. He breathed out. He didn’t want that, not really. Not even if he felt like he did.
1213 BCE – Pylos L, too, was exhausted. Following someone for as long as he had was by no means a light task, and he had chosen it. He knew he really didn’t have anyone to blame but himself for this, and he knew that he could easily have simply stopped following him, but he also couldn’t. He also found that he couldn’t bring himself to do it. If Orpheus was running away, then what was L doing? Running forward, perhaps. Trying to find a place he could call home. Or maybe he was just looking for answers. He watched Orpheus every second he could, he watched and he waited and he spent every moment in hiding. That was what life was like for him now. He was just...a shadow. Being found out was, as always, a frightening possibility. L didn’t want to risk it, he didn’t want any chance of him being discovered, because he knew what people would do to him if they found out. They wouldn’t want to listen to him, they wouldn’t want to hear his reasons or his pleas for mercy. All they would want was his blood. So they just couldn’t find out. That was all. He followed Orpheus, noting the way he seemed unaware of the looks he was getting. Did he really not know, or did he just not care? It was hard to say. Maybe he was just used to it by now, as he would be, having experienced this for as long as he had. L wasn’t used to being seen at all anymore. He was used to being invisible. L watched as Orpheus moved his stuff into the building. He hadn’t had to look far this time, the young man noted. If he believed in luck, he might have suggested Orpheus’ was turning around. As it happened, he did believe in luck to an extent, so he did think that was possible. Maybe he would see more good things to come. He watched carefully as Orpheus looked out the window. If he’d been hiding better he wouldn’t have been seen. He knew Orpheus had met his eyes the moment it happened, if only because he could feel it. He could feel it happen, and though he managed to disappear an instant later he knew it was too late. He breathed out. It wasn’t too bad. The other man hadn’t spoken to him, after all, he had simply looked at him, and maybe he hadn’t even recognized him. Maybe it was nothing. L knew it wasn’t nothing. But he was trying to pretend.
1178 BCE – Ithaca, Days Before the Eclipse L had noticed when Orpheus started to play again. The music entered their lives slowly, carefully, and it didn’t leave again. It was something gentle and personal and sometimes, for the first time, L felt bad for watching Orpheus. It was an invasion of privacy. He knew most people would say it was wrong, even under these circumstances. Was it wrong? He didn’t know. All he knew was that he couldn’t seem to stop. Not having somewhere to call home had it’s advantages. For example, L could shadow Orpheus every moment without worrying about paying rent. He could watch Orpheus work and he could watch as the other immortal (as they seemed to be) went about his daily life. That often involved music of some kind. Orpheus played for the children. He played for the old, too. Actually, he played for anyone and everyone, and L thought that was oddly kind of him. Music was something he probably could have sold, yet he gave it freely. Did that say something about him? Possibly. Possibly. L ducked away, but it was too late. The man called after him, and he hid, trembling, until he heard the small sigh, carried on the wind. It was then that he knew Orpheus wouldn’t track him down. Orpheus was going to leave that up to him, it seemed. L straightened up, still hidden behind the building. He wouldn’t come out, then. Orpheus could talk to the air all he liked, and he wouldn’t get a response. He would never see L, not as anything more than a shadow here and there. “Oh, I’ll listen.” He murmured, softer than the wind. “I’ll stay. But soon enough you won’t even have a shadow to talk to.”
1178 – Ithaca, The Solar Eclipse L watched Orpheus, the same way he had been every single day since it all started. He just wouldn’t give up on getting answers. If that was even why he was doing this anymore. He watched Orpheus play, careful not to be seen. He was getting better, he thought, slowly but surely. He was trying hard to be completely invisible and he thought he was making progress, even if it had only been days since he’d been spotted last. He heard the cry and turned sharply, stiffening. Had he been seen? Did someone think he was a threat, perhaps? But no - they were looking up, not at him. The gods? L had been on the receiving end of the gods’ anger. He knew what it was like firsthand. He highly doubted that whatever this was, it was that. It seemed far more likely that something else was happening, something completely unrelated to the gods’ actions. He looked up. And suddenly, night fell. L stared at the sky. There was a ring of fire around a black circle hanging where the sun should have been, like something had covered it up. It was like night, and yet it was nothing like night, because night came slowly and this, this was far swifter. It was like the end of the world, maybe. It was like the gods were angry. “Hades, Persephone, don’t do this.” He whispered, paralyzed with fear. Then he realized that Orpheus was looking right at him. He ducked, but it was too late. He heard the man’s voice as clearly as if it had been whispered in his ear. Yes, you have He thought helplessly, waiting for the earth to tear itself apart underneath him. Was he more afraid of the gods or of the man he followed? He didn’t know. He didn’t speak. He heard the desperation in Orpheus’ voice and he ignored it. He didn’t answer, and as the world refused to bow beneath the hand of the gods, he slipped away. He needed time to breathe before he could return to his post. If he could return.
1147 BCE – Athens L was more careful after that. He still didn’t know whether it was the gods who had covered the sun or something else, but he glanced at the sky now and again just to make sure everything was in order. As time went on he did it less and less, but occasionally he still looked up just to be sure, He followed Orpheus still. Even though he’d been directly spoken to, which should have frightened him off. It didn’t, though. Somehow he still fought to watch Orpheus every day. Finally Orpheus moved on, and so did L. The dark haired immortal was careful to stay hidden now, more careful than he had needed to be before. Now, it was more important than ever. Then they were in Athen again. It was a familiar place to L, too. Even if it wasn’t really home. After all, nowhere was actually home, now. If it ever had been. He noticed the places Orpheus didn’t go, too, the places that he seemed for avoid. L could tell he was avoiding them because it would have made sense for him to go there, but he didn’t. He went anywhere else, in fact. Being in Athens was close to being home, though. L found himself wandering from Orpheus, wandering the streets and peering into windows and looking at people. How much had changed, he mused, how much would never be the same. He didn’t like it. He didn’t want it to change. He made sure he kept Orpheus in sight at all times when he almost lost him in the crowd once. He couldn’t bear the thought of losing him now, after so long. He couldn’t stand the idea of being completely alone in the world, even if he was alone now. It felt like he wasn’t. It felt like he had someone. L hesitated when Orpheus entered the temple. Then he, too, stepped inside. There were fewer places to hide here. He ducked out of sight, watching, trying to stay hidden while he did. There were only a few people there, fortunately, so he didn’t have too much trouble not drawing attention to himself. Finally Orpheus stood up, and L ducked away. Did he manage it in time? He didn’t know. He hoped so, because he couldn’t really afford any more mistakes. Orpheus has already caught on that he was being followed, which wasn’t ideal. What if he were to decide to take matters into his own hands? What if he decided to end the shadow that followed him? Érebos. Érebos, the shadow, the one that may not be wanted. If Orpheus called him the shadow, then why should he stand for being followed? Why would he?
1128 BCE – Thebes L had gotten better at hiding, or so he thought. He did his best to make sure he was always out of the way of passers by, and he tried to seem like he was busy whenever anyone noticed him, which was happening less and less frequently. He didn’t know Orpheus knew he was there, but if he had, he probably wouldn’t have done anything differently. It was what it was, and he had to try to get answers. If that was even what he was looking for. L walked behind Orpheus. He didn’t know what the other man was thinking, but he knew that if he wanted to find out, he was going to have to take on a more direct role. Was he willing to do that? Not really, no, he wasn’t. He was only willing to do what he was already doing: stay out of sight and try to get some answers, if he could. It was a trade off; how close was he willing to go? How close was he willing to get to learn what Orpheus knew? He heard the song, and he knew it. It hit him, and he almost staggered with the weight of it, because it was something from a very long time ago, something he’d forgotten about. He didn’t know it as well as Orpheus did, but he did know it. He did, and it felt like home, it felt like something very deep inside of him breaking out of its shell and coming forward. He peered out, and saw something he never expected to see. Orpheus was crying. He stared, shocked, forgetting that he was visible at all. He didn’t feel visible. He didn’t even feel real in the face of the man’s emotions. Emotions he shared, but not in words or tears. Emotions he ignored. He pulled away just as Orpheus looked, barely avoiding being caught in full light. He breathed out, trying to stay calm, trying not to feel the emotions the music had brought on inside of him. But that was nearly impossible to accomplish, and instead he stood very still, pretending not to feel the pain.
1104 BCE – Cyprus While Orpheus grew better at moving, L grew better at hiding. He couldn’t read people still, in fact, if anything he had grown worse at it because he never needed to anymore. He spent all his time learning what he could from Orpheus and making sure he didn’t get away. There wasn’t much time left for small talk. Actually, he hadn’t had a full conversation in….he frowned...well, a long time, anyway. L assumed that he had simply gotten better at being undetected. It didn’t, truthfully, occur to him that perhaps Orpheus had improved as well. It didn’t occur to him to wonder whether Orpheus knew where he was, or even guessed he was there at all. He knew Orpheus knew he was being followed, but wouldn’t he assume L had given up if L was never seen? Wouldn’t he assume L had gotten tired of their dance? He hoped so. What he assumed was Orpheus never seeing was Orpheus simply ignoring him. What he thought was his own improvement was more like mutual improvement. Life on an island was not much to L’s liking. He got sand everywhere and it bothered him, and he hated fish. Not that he’d tried to eat it. He just hated it. He watched Orpheus from the shadows of the market, observing his method of fishing. What did it say about him? Was he hesitant? Forceful? Did he make movements too quickly or too slowly? L didn’t know why Orpheus had stopped looking at him. He assumed it was because he had gotten harder to detect. What he didn’t realize was that for Orpheus, he wasn’t a pest to be gotten rid of, he wasn’t someone to be chased away with a broom. What he didn’t know was that Orpheus actually wanted him there. He knew they were tied, he knew they suffered the same affliction, and he knew Orpheus must have known that too, because L had been following him for longer than he should have been alive now. But he didn’t know that Orpheus cared. He didn’t know that Orpheus even cared whether or not he followed.
1080 BCE – Pithom, Egypt L watched the leaves as they changed, seemingly overnight. His experience of time was so strange, now, different than it had been so long ago, when he was mortal. He felt the years passing and did not feel them at all. He felt the decades crawling by and he felt them slipping away too fast. After all, he had lived longer now than any human before him, save the one he followed. He supposed his brain had to adapt to make up for its lack of destruction. He knew his heart did. L had found the language simple enough to understand. He found languages in general were not a challenge for him, with was fortunate considering how many he would probably need to learn if he were to communicate in the future. The future. Vast and untapped, he found he didn’t know whether he was more afraid of that or the past. Or, more pressingly, the present. He didn’t use his language skills much. There wasn’t much to say. Still, when he had to, he found he was able to communicate his thoughts without too much difficulty. He watched Orpheus, as usual keeping out of sight. It was more than habit by now; it was simply how he lived, in the shadows, watching and waiting for an unknown day, an unknown event. He didn’t know what he waited for, only that he couldn’t act until he was ready. And do what? What was it he planned to do? He supposed if Orpheus stopped moving one day, then he might have to consider his options. But the other man didn’t seem likely to do so. At least, he hadn’t so far. The sun beat down on him, and he made sure he was in the shadows before allowing himself the luxury of yawning. The building he hid behind was a good one, unobtrusive and yet large enough for him to peer out when he chose without being obvious. Good for hiding, not so good for living in, he supposed. It was built in an odd place, not with the other homes. He was about to move when he heard the quiet word and froze. He could feel the other man’s eyes on his spot, clearly marking him as the recipient of the sentence. Well, what then? He considered his options. He could come out, let Orpheus see him. He supposed that was the most logical option, considering that he had been teaching himself many forms of martial arts over the decades and he considered the chances of Orpheus beating him in a fight to be less than 5%. But something held him back. Was it fear? Was it simply that he wasn’t comfortable with being see anymore? He didn’t know. But whatever it was, it was strong enough to make him keep to the shadows and wait for Orpheus to give up on him. What he did see was the door left open. What he did see was the chance to act, just one little act, one little thing he could do. He left the lyre on the table.
1065 BCE – Pi-Ramesses, Egypt L almost wished they could go back to Greece, though he knew that was a foolish wish. He knew that Egypt was safer for them both, and he knew that anywhere could be home if you stayed for long enough, but his heart refused to settle for his rhetoric, for some unknown reason. He found himself drawn back, stronger than ever, and he didn’t know why. He felt the strangest urge to leave Orpheus, even, stop following him and give up on whatever fool’s mission he had set himself on. He didn’t have a goal or a plan. He had nothing but eternity, and he felt he might be wasting it. What w terrible thing to throw away. Though a curse, he knew some would kill to have what he had. And yet he didn’t leave. He watched Orpheus’ life grow meaningful, he watched the other man seem to bloom under the temperamental sun, the sand, the people. Children laughed and presented each other with the flowers he gave them. L didn’t miss the way he tried to make everyone’s lives just s little better, though he himself didn’t benefit from his attempts in the slightest. Was that why he stayed? Because he thought Orpheus had the power to make his life better? He knew Orpheus was writing songs. He guessed that those songs were not in a language many would understand, perhaps only two in the whole world. He thought that it was likely he would never hear those songs played or even read the lyrics off the page, but that was all right. He wasn’t friends with Orpheus. He was barely a shadow, drifting after a man who seemed to be trying to find a purpose. A shadow had no purpose. A shadow simply existed, due to the way light worked. He heard the thank you, but he didn’t answer, didn’t even give any indication that he existed at all, though he knew by now that it was pointless to pretend. Orpheus was well aware that he was being followed. What was incredible was that L didn’t think he was trying to shake the shadow off. What was amazing was that he seemed almost pleased. He knew that for Orpheus, music was something deeply personal. He knew that the songs he played in public likely differed from the songs he created in the dark. Neither were better and neither were worse, they simply were what they were, and they were for different situations. L didn’t expect to ever hear the songs in the dark, though he himself was a shadow as well. He stayed out of the sunlight, instead settling into a crouch behind a nearby building, his eyes as always observing the other man. The fruit was tempting - when had he last eaten? - but he didn’t move. His fingers played with his lips and his hair fell in his eyes, long and choppy and very messy. For some reason, thoughts of Watari invaded his brain, and the ghost of his adopted father brushed his hair back from his face and told him he ought to take better care of his own body, because “doesn’t it take good care of you?” He looked at Orpheus. Did the other man have such memories as well? Did he miss anyone as deeply as L missed Watari? A dull ache in his heart tugged him towards the invitation so strongly he found himself shifting to stand, and quickly he shut himself down, gritting his teeth against the feeling. It wasn’t safe. It would never be safe. One day Orpheus would give up on these pointless invitations. One day, Orpheus would give up on his shadow.
1046 BCE – Yin, China China was a beautiful place, L had to admit. He loved the landscape and the people ignored him adequately, making his job of moving about that much easier. He supposed that might be because he was better than ever at hiding, but he thought that it was also due to the fact that he was new and unfamiliar and people tended to avoid what they didn’t know, or weren’t comfortable with. It worked to his advantage, certainly. He knew Orpheus played with the other musicians, and he couldn’t help the tinge of jealousy in his chest as he watched, unable to join. The language was easily picked up, even though he barely used it himself. He could understand the conversation, but he couldn’t add his voice. Used to it though he was, it was harder in a new place, somehow. Then it was over, and there was nothing left to be jealous of. The song ended on a bittersweet note as the others left, leaving just the two of them, if L was to be counted as a person after spending so long pretending he wasn’t. He followed Orpheus home, hands in his pockets and eyes watchful, always watchful. For the first time in a long time, L saw the other immortal cry. The tears tugged at a place deep in his heart, and he yearned to do something to make it better, but he had nothing he could do. It was all so much more than either of them had ever bargained for, and he suddenly realized that he no longer believed this was Orpheus’ fault. He didn’t have evidence save for his own ability to read others. Was that enough? For the first time in a long time, L looked at the sky with a purpose other than to see the stars or watch a sunrise. He looked up and then he changed his mind and looked down. “Hades,” he murmured, dark eyes unblinking as he stared at the earth under his bare feet. “You can stop this. I no longer believe in this man’s guilt, and therefore I’m forced to consider this a punishment he doesn’t deserve. Are there people he misses? Are there souls he wants to see again?” He paused, then continued very softly, speaking almost to himself. “Why not let him go home? Why watch him as I do, when you are a god and not a shadow?” He looked up at last, and he realized there was a cup of tea untouched, left out, presumably, for him. He heard the question and very nearly answered it before common sense kicked in and he said nothing, simply stared at the tea as though it was enough to bridge the gap between them. Reaching out to Hades may have been a bad idea. He wasn’t sure he wanted that particular god’s attention on him. Then Orpheus was gone, and before L could stop himself he was at the window, reaching for the tea. He hesitated before he took it, but he knew that it was for him, and despite everything he claimed, he was lonely. Despite his best efforts to the contrary, he found Orpheus’ offer top tempting. Just this once, he promised himself. And tomorrow he would act like it had never happened.
998 BCE – Sardinia, Italy L was exhausted. His body was apparently still capable of craving food, too, which was interesting. Could he starve, then? Or was it simply an after image of a life he no longer needed to replenish. Sometimes, he wondered whether he was even truly alive anymore. He barely ate, barely slept. And this long journey, he couldn’t help but feel, was intended to shake him once and for all. It hurt unexpectedly to think that Orpheus no longer wanted him there, even though he hadn’t wanted to be discovered in the first place. Perhaps he had grown used to the idea of being known, just a little bit, by one person. Perhaps he had soothed the ache in his chest by telling himself he wasn’t as alone as he felt. Perhaps he was, after all, a fool. He knew Orpheus had every right to be angry with him. He was, after all, still silent. He took, he didn’t give back. He watched, but he didn’t interact, and they were the only two people in the world who might have interacted without the knowledge that one would die and the other would not. They were both alone, and it was not for lack of trying on Orpheus’ part. If L were less paranoid, if L were less afraid, then perhaps they could have fought through this together. Perhaps, by now, they would have known each other. But perhaps L didn’t want to be known. Perhaps it was better to be alone, after all. He knew this was more than a simple journey. He knew this was the only way Orpheus could find to communicate that in spite of everything else, he was angry with his shadow. And he knew that he deserved that. So why didn’t he turn and leave? Why didn’t he let Orpheus have an answer, one way or the other? Yes or no? He deserved better than to be given false hope that L would ever join him. He had fallen behind as he mused, and he stopped. He could turn and just leave, right now. No consequences, no strings attached. He could free them both from this pointless dance, once and forever. All he had to do was walk the other way. He didn’t know how long he sat crouched there, undecided. He didn’t walk forwards or backwards, he didn’t eat, and he didn’t sleep. There was nothing there, no souls passed him, and the one man whose presence had been a constant for three hundred years now was out of sight, but not mind. Never mind. He looked up at the stars. He didn’t know whether he believed in an afterlife anymore. He didn’t know whether the gods still breathed. All he knew was that the ache he had felt for three hundred years was so painful he could no longer ignore it, and he squeezed his eyes shut, a moan escaping his lips in a rush of air. The walk was long and hard alone, but L made it. He looked up, and there was Orpheus, laying on the grass and staring at the sky. A rush of relief so strong it nearly knocked him off his feet came over him and he had to seriously fight himself not to reveal himself then and there. But the fear was still too much, and he hid, watching, waiting. The words trickled into his ears and he opened his eyes. How Orpheus knew he was there was a mystery, and one he would likely never solve, but he felt glad of it. Glad to know that he still existed, if only half alive. “I can’t,” he murmured back, his tone broken. He knew Orpheus wouldn’t hear his reply. “I can’t.”
976 BCE – Sardinia, Italy He was surprised when Orpheus first moved again, and still more surprised when he threw himself back into songwriting. He had expected him to change, perhaps, or give up, but after doing nothing, he seemed intent once again on his work. How, after so long alive, was he still invested in what he did? He didn’t know. He himself felt his interest in things ebbing, his ability to focus failing, though that might have been the lack of sleep. He had never slept much, but lately it seemed he couldn’t get more than an hour every couple of days. He didn’t know why his natural insomnia had flared so badly after nearly abandoning Orpheus, but he was handling it. He watched Orpheus make connections, and he wondered why. Why bother? Orpheus had to know by now that this was never going to last. Living forever meant that you were always the one who had to grieve in the end. Living forever meant nothing else was. He stayed away from people. There were no connections to make. He did watch them, and he helped them sometimes when he could do so unobtrusively, but he never held a conversation, never spoke to them. His voice was low and raspy now with disuse, but he so rarely had any opportunity to use it that he didn’t notice the change. Instead he stayed silent and watchful, observing the way people operated when they thought they were alone. Orpheus wasn’t the only soul worth his time, after all, though he was by far the one worth most of it. Watching people lent him new strength, and he found himself able to sleep just a little bit more than before. Eternity was a very long time, however, and even watching people was not enough to keep him from feeling the ache of it. He longed for something he had no name for. Or perhaps something he simply hadn’t had cause to name in a very long time. Home. The word was almost on his lips, and he mouthed it soundlessly, testing it. Could you long for something you’d never tasted? He did. He wanted more than anything in that moment to go home. To sleep, to dream. He waited outside, barely feeling the rain. It soaked him, streaming from his black hair in rivers that flowed down his back and over his pale skin. He didn’t move from where he stood, back to a wall, head down, dark eyes wide open. The music entered his veins through his left ring finger, which explained why it went directly to his heart. The ache was so strong he couldn’t bear it, and though he didn’t move his body, he felt himself collapsing inside under the pain of it, the weight of being so alone. He didn’t even move when he heard Orpheus step outside. His eyes focused on the mud under his bare feet, the streams of water coursing over his toes, and he supposed he was chilled, though he didn’t feel it more than a thought across his mind. Human. Yes, they were human, all right, in a deep way that he wasn’t sure either him or the other immortal could lay claim to anymore. He didn’t answer out loud, but deep in his thoughts, L nodded. As long as you promise not to become that thing, then yes. he answered silently.
931 BCE – Chengzhou, China L was glad to be in China again. It wasn’t home to him, but he’d missed it, the language and the people and the landscape and, of course, the music. Always the music. He was glad Orpheus seemed inclined to stay for a while, and though he didn’t speak, he felt more at ease there than he had in a long time. Perhaps it was the good memories of the place. Or perhaps he was simply so unlike Greece that it failed to make him homesick. He didn’t know, but he was grateful all the same. He didn’t know why Orpheus hadn’t gone back to Greece. He knew he himself wouldn’t have been able to stay away for so long. He no longer thought of leaving Orpheus, but if he had, that was where he would have gone. Home. Or at least, a memory of home. Friends? He actually glanced around, wondering whether Orpheus was speaking to someone else. But he knew he wasn’t. He knew Orpheus meant him. Friends? How could they be friends when they’d never so much as had a conversation? When L didn’t trust Orpheus enough to show his face? When all they had was 400 years of each other’s silent company, one walking in the other’s footsteps? No, he answered silently, they were not friends. As for what they were, he doubted there was a word for it in any language. He certainly couldn’t think of one. He listened quietly. Kind? Hardly. He had refused the many offers of friendship Orpheus had made. He had refused when Orpheus invited him to step into the light, even just once. He had forced Orpheus to walk alone, all the while knowing how much it hurt them both. He was not kind. He was a coward. He supposed it was natural for Orpheus to wish to know him. He supposed he couldn’t blame him for that, not when he himself knew how deeply he felt the pain of loneliness. It was not personal, he knew, but simply something Orpheus couldn’t help, because L was the only person he had even a chance of getting to know. It was not personal, because there were no other options for either of them. He, too, had noticed the girl, though he had failed to see the connection between her and the guard. Interesting that he failed to notice a connection even when one existed. Perhaps it had something been too long since he had experienced it himself. Or perhaps he was finally losing his touch.
930 BCE – Crete When they first turned towards Greece, L had assumed it was a mere coincidence, so certain was he that Orpheus didn’t intend to go back to that place. The closer they got, the less sure he became, and by the time they were in Crete he was actually bubbling with excitement he hadn’t felt in decades. Crete may not have actually been home, but it was so much closer than anywhere they had been in so long that it felt like standing on the doorstep of his childhood home, unable to cross the threshold. He no longer knew whether he wanted to come here after all. It held so many memories he had ignored for so long, memories he wasn’t sure he wanted to face, not yet, perhaps not ever. He followed Orpheus at a distance, disliking the lack of cover. He was forced instead to use the crowd, which was dangerous, especially since Orpheus was aware of what he looked like, more or less. But he needn’t have worried. Orpheus seemed far too preoccupied to watch for L now, and the dark haired immortal slowly let himself relax into the flow of the crowd, his wide eyes never leaving Orpheus as the man spoke to the gods. He wondered for the first time in a long time what Orpheus had done to earn his curse. He knew nothing of Eurydice, nothing of the flowers or their meaning. He knew simply that once they had failed to bloom, and then they had started again. He had given it little more than a cursory thought, not nearly enough to draw any sort of connection. He didn’t answer, of course. He could have. He could have told Orpheus that his home was so close he could taste it, and yet seemed further than ever before. He could have said that his father’s grave was almost visible from where they stood, or so it felt. He missed Watari so deeply in that moment that he felt the pain of loss as sharply as when it had first occurred. He could have asked whether Orpheus had anyone he missed so much it was a wound that never fully healed, but he didn’t. He kept his thoughts to himself, and let his mind wander. Thrace. He wondered whether Orpheus planned to go there. If he did, he would be showing L a very personal part of himself. The wide eyed immortal wondered whether that was an argument for or against the trip.
922 BCE – Pimpleia The sight of home was almost too much for L to bear. He stared at it, longing to step into the light and feel the wind, but not daring with Orpheus so close by. He knew the date, for once. He knew the significance of the day Orpheus had chosen to come here. What he probably didn’t know was that it was exactly the same significance for L, exactly the same date and the same place, or close enough. He had been born in a city no further than an hour’s walk from here. He had grown up even closer. He understood that for Orpheus, this was as close to home as he was ever likely to come. He couldn’t begin to imagine the pain of it, and at the same time he felt the exact same pain. It was like walking in a memory. Watari had brought L here before, on one of their many journeys. Watari had traveled for work and had no choice but to bring L along, as the only person he would have trusted the child with traveled, too. So L had seen this place many times, and could remember the exact place he had sat eating the fruit Watari had bought him, the exact place where he had gotten lost once and cried until Watari had found him and carried him all the way home. The gods played little role in his life, as he had barely known about them at all, but he understood that for Orpheus it was likely a significant part of his memories of the place. He felt the ache of silence even stronger at the thought of all the things he didn’t know about the man. All the things he would likely never know. The field was beautiful and unfamiliar. L had never been to that particular part of the city, had never walked in this field, touched these flowers. The air was unmistakable, however, and as he followed behind Orpheus he couldn’t help brushing the petals with the tips of his long fingers, not daring to pluck even one carnation from its place. He barely even breathed at all, so focused on Orpheus was he, and he knew without being told that this, this was the other immortal’s home. This, this was where he had grown up, where his memories lived their eternal lives, parallel to their own. It felt like walking backwards, like turning the clock back and watching himself. He could only imagine how it felt for Orpheus. He listened quietly, not interrupting Orpheus even in his thoughts. This was a sacred place, full of long undisturbed memories, and it was not his place to speak even in his own mind. So he listened, completely still, the wind playing with his black hair and toying with his clothes. He knew Orpheus was right. He understood that Orpheus could easily have tried to throw him off, and in the early days almost certainly succeeded. Where would he be now, if Orpheus had not allowed him to follow? Where would he be if not here, now, in this moment, a moment brought about by 400 years of walking in another man’s footsteps? He looked down, the shadows playing games on his face, casting it in darkness he was used too, far too used to. And then, he answered. “Yes,” he said softly, too softly to be heard. “I miss it, too. I miss it.” He breathed out, and realized there were tears on his cheeks, slipping down his face and falling on the flowers. He had never felt more alone than in that moment. He missed the sunlight. He missed walking without constantly making sure he was properly invisible. He missed talking and being heard and listening and answering. He missed humanity, their faults and their voices and their smiles and their tears. And most of all, he missed being human, being real. He was good at being a shadow, but he was so very tired of it. He knew it was the same for Orpheus. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that the man cared, deeply. He didn’t know the details of the past, he and he didn’t have the answers he had sought all those years ago, but at some point he had stopped following for answers and started for another reason. Perhaps they were both simply lonely. “I don’t have answers for you.” He said quietly, making sure he wouldn’t be heard. “I’m sorry. I’m so tired of being alone. I’m so tired of not being real. I miss...I miss home. I miss Watari. I miss eating breakfast every day. I miss being heard.” He knew he was talking to himself, but he felt that after 400 years, he had earned it. “I just happened to be there.” He murmured. “Of all the places in the world I could have been, I was there.” He remembered that day so clearly. He remembered that day as though it hadn’t been hundreds of years. He fell silent, the tears on his face the only proof that he had ever spoken at all. Being tired meant feeling a deep, indescribable ache, wanting to sleep forever, yet never feeling rested. Wanting to eat, but never feeling full. Like something deep inside was just so broken there was no hope of repair. “I could never hate you.” He managed, closing his eyes against the flood of emotion. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I’m a coward. I’m sorry that I’ve made you go through this alone. I’m sorry that I don’t even know how this happened to you. I’m sorry.”
899 – Assur, Assyria, The Solar Eclipse L had almost stopped following Orpheus after that. At least, he has pretended to consider it, while knowing deep down that he had never given the option a second thought. He had had that chance a long time ago. He had chosen to follow Orpheus to the ends of the earth, and he had never seriously considered leaving again after that. For better or for worse, their fates were tied, apparently for good, for better or for worse, L no longer wondered why he did it. He simply did. He was so good at hiding by now that he didn’t even think about where he should go, before going there. It was instinct by now, simple knowledge of the area, a cursory glance around, and the decision to stay nearby as much as he could. Losing Orpheus now would have been too horrible to consider, so he didn’t. Instead, he settled in nearby, watching. He, too, could feel the change on the air. Something whispering against his skin, like wind. It was a new place, which made it worth visiting, but he didn’t think that was the only reason going there felt right. He didn’t know whether he believed the gods still lived, or if they did, that they had any power left, but he still wondered whether this had something to do with them. When the sky went dark, he understood. It had been a long time since this had happened, but he remembered it well. He had thought the world was ending. He had thought the gods were coming to destroy them all. Now, he suspected there was a far more rational explanation, and though his heart beat fast and his hands shook, his mind was steady. He heard the word - his name, as much as L ever was - and he searched for Orpheus in the dark, his wide eyes finding his dark silhouette despite the numerous other people around. He knew what he was looking for, after all. He tilted his head, the offer filling him with surprise. Go somewhere he wanted to go? Trust Orpheus not to move, not to do anything at all? He tested the reasons in his head. Did he believe Orpheus to be dangerous? No, he answered decidedly, he did not. If Orpheus was dangerous, he had had four hundred years to prove it. He had done nothing but try his best to make those around him more comfortable, while getting nothing in return. Did he think Orpheus would get them in trouble? Perhaps. But he didn’t think that was the reason, or at least, not the only one. Not the main one. So why did he hide? He tried to look away, but he couldn’t. He tried to turn his mind off, tried to tune out the words, but his mind shook its head slowly, not this time, L. He breathed in. He couldn’t be considering… The ache in his chest was too much. The pain of being alone too deep. If he believed Orpheus to be dangerous, that would have been one thing, but by his own admission, he didn’t. He had nothing but a coward’s excuse. And that wasn’t enough. Not this time. L Lawliet was not a detective. He was not a good person, or even, by some definitions, a person at all. But, to his credit, he did take a step forward. Then another. Then another, until he was standing behind Orpheus. And for the first time in four hundred years, L Lawliet was not a ghost, but a person. “Hello.”
Hello. Orpheus froze. His gaze was still fixated on the sky, but his eyes weren’t seeing it, not really. His mind was focusing only on one thing. One word. It had been so long. Maybe it was someone else. Maybe Orpheus’ imagination was playing tricks on him. But when he let his eyes close, the only thing he was certain of was that Érebos was right behind him. Not hiding off to the side, not staying in the shadows, but right behind him. Orpheus’ heart thudded in his chest. This was what he had wanted, this was what he yearned for… well, for decades, now. The sound of Érebos’ voice, the feeling of him closer… so why was Orpheus scared now? Why did he suddenly want to run, to tell Érebos never mind, he was okay with the way things were, he was afraid of one more thing changing. He was afraid of knowing Érebos, because what if he wasn’t a good man? What if Érebos realized that Orpheus wasn’t a good man? No, Orpheus scolded himself quietly, Hermes’ voice echoing in his mind. This is what you wanted. This is what I wanted. Very, very slowly, Orpheus turned his gaze away from the sky, and towards his shadow. The man who had been his constant companion for four hundred years but had never said a word. The man whose face he hadn’t seen in centuries. Was that what he had expected Érebos’ voice to sound like? Orpheus didn’t know. The shadow was exactly as Orpheus remembered him from the glimpses he’d gotten over the centuries. Perhaps thinner than Orpheus had expected, less certain of himself. Orpheus was so tired. So tired of being lonely, so tired of knowing there was someone always out of reach, of knowing that maybe, if he said the right thing, he wouldn’t have to be alone anymore. Was it selfish to feel lonely when someone was keeping you company wordlessly forever? “Hello,” Orpheus returned, his voice scarcely more than a whisper as he tried desperately not to break the spell. As he tried not to scare his shadow off. The sky was beginning to lighten, the rays of the sun catching on both of them, standing there as scared as uncertain as school children. Orpheus couldn’t help but notice the way it reflected off of Érebos’ hair, the way it seemed to lighten and warm him. How long had it been since the other man had stood in the sunlight? How long since he’d let himself be seen? Orpheus felt something damp on his cheek and he slowly lifted a hand to touch it. Tears. Why was he crying? He didn’t understand. It was like… it was like seeing Eurydice for the first time. It was knowing there was a chance for a future. It was hope, for the first time in centuries. Hope, and no small amount of fear. “Forgive me,” Orpheus managed, trying to wipe the wetness from his eyes. Emotions crashed into him from every side. Pain. Relief. Hope. Hope. Hope. He closed his eyes for just a moment, trying to contain the explosion building inside of him. Trying to close the floodgates before the water poured in. Orpheus forced a small smile. He was okay. They were both okay. But what was about to happen now… Orpheus had a feeling it mattered more than anything else he’d done in the past several centuries. “It’s nice to meet you, finally.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Sept 27, 2020 9:26:03 GMT -5
L didn’t know what to expect. He felt very exposed. Four hundred years of being a shadow meant he didn’t know how to be a person anymore. He didn’t know what Orpheus was going to do, how he would react, whether he actually hated his persistent shadow. He had reason, didn’t he? L could have shown himself a long time ago, when Orpheus had asked the first time, or the second time, or the third time. He could have shown himself at any time, and he hadn’t. He had made Orpheus go through it alone. He stood there, waiting for Orpheus to look at him. He was so scared. He was so scared and he didn’t even know what he was scared of. Being known? Being seen? He wanted to run, wanted to take it back and pretend it had never happened. His eyes were huge and one bare foot rubbed the other as he forced himself to stay right where he was, exposed and in danger and….human. He didn’t move a muscle as Orpheus turned around. It was so strange, seeing him up close after so long spent tracking him from afar. It was terrifying not to be hidden, to be real. He was supposed to be a shadow. He wanted to run. But he didn’t. He didn’t move or speak, and his wide eyes didn’t blink, just stared at Orpheus with a nearly unreadable expression in them. He waited for Orpheus to do something. And for once, he had no idea what that something might be. He was tired, too. Tired of being invisible. So tired of the dark, when the light was inches away. The black air served as a cover, but he knew it wouldn’t last long. He knew his he could never take back his decision. Then Orpheus spoke, and L nearly flinched, but stopped himself. He didn’t look up as the sky began to brighten again, even as light brushed against his skin the way it hadn’t in so long. How long? Was the last time he had stood like this...was it when he had been cursed? Four hundred years was a long time not to exist. L wondered whether he could really say he existed now. He went very still as he realized Orpheus was...Orpheus was crying. Why? Panic stabbed through him, was it his fault? What had he done wrong? Maybe Orpheus didn’t want him there after all. Didn’t people cry when they were upset? If the mere sight of L was enough to bring the other immortal to tears, then how could he possibly expect any sort of friendly greeting? He should have never acted. This had been very foolish, a whim that never should have been acted on. He’d just been so tired of refusing Orpheus’ invitations, of being alone, invisible, a shadow. “For what?” He managed, his voice raspy from disuse. He didn’t understand, but before he could stop himself his hand reached to brush the tears away. He didn’t like them there, he didn’t want Orpheus to feel sad. He thought better of it and dragged his hand back to his side. If the sight of him was enough to bring Orpheus to tears, a touch would be twice as unwanted, wouldn’t it? He didn’t answer immediately. The suns as out now, catching on his loose clothes and bringing a strange warmth to his extremely pale skin, a warmth he hadn’t felt in decades. His eyes found the smile, and he frowned slightly, puzzled. Tears combined with a smile didn’t make any sense at all. Was he sad or was he happy? He tore his eyes away from the expression, and rested them instead on his eyes. After a long moment, he looked away. “Yes.” He agreed. “It is. Although, technically speaking, you met me a very long time ago.”
What do you say to your shadow? What do you say to the person who made sure you were never alone, even when you thought you might want to be? To the person who was there when nobody else was, when nobody else would understand? To the one person who might share your loneliness, who knew that being alone was the absolute last thing you wanted? What do you say to the person who gave up lifetimes to be something you don’t quite understand? Orpheus would give up 400 years to make Érebos happy. To give him what the other immortal had granted him. He didn’t want to, but he’d do it. If Érebos asked. He shifted the weight of the lyre, not daring to look away. “For crying,” Orpheus replied, voice soft. “I ask you to join me for years and then when you do I start crying? That’s not very fair to you, and it’s most certainly not what you probably expected.” He let out a soft huff of laughter, barely audible. “I didn’t expect to feel…” he hesitated, trying to formulate the words. “It’s like someone took the loneliness away and let everything else rush in. Unexpected, but not… not unpleasant.” He was rambling. Was that too personal? Or was anything too personal between them now? Orpheus felt he was at a distinct disadvantage. Érebos knew him well, but he was next to clueless about his shadow. “Is it odd I have the urge to embrace you?” The words came out in a flurry, as though Orpheus’ lips had conjures them into being without consulting his brain first. He didn’t move, didn’t give any indication he was going to act on that urge unless Érebos wanted him to. Orpheus’ eyes scanned across his shadow’s face, trying to memorize every detail. Trying to immortalize the image of the man as much as the man himself. What if he disappeared again? What if this was the first and last time Orpheus would be allowed to view him out of the shadows? Érebos’ expression was unreadable, but Orpheus wasn’t surprised. He yearned for a future where he might learn to read it, but he knew that was unlikely. This moment… this moment was a miracle. What sort of man was he if he expected it to last forever? Wishing it would was different. Wishing was okay. Orpheus shifted, trying to organize his thoughts into words. It wasn’t working, he kept getting distracted by all of the details that d Érebos he hadn’t been allowed to notice. How many sleepless nights had he spent trying to imagine the sound of the other immortal’s voice? How often has he tried to remember anything but the eyes and that dark hair? He couldn’t forget the eyes. It was odd, though, being allowed to meet them and hold them for longer than a brief moment. “Technically,” Orpheus returned, finally getting his voice to work, “We haven’t really met at all. I don’t… I don’t even know your name, Érebos.” It was the first of many things he didn’t know, things he wanted to find out. What life had the other immortal left behind? Who was he? Where did he want to go? “We’ve shared more time than either of us ever expected to have, I imagine,” he added, brow creasing. He wanted to take Érebos’ hand, but he didn’t dare. He didn’t want to frighten him off. He didn’t want to send him back into the shadows, or worse, into shadows Orpheus would never see. It shocked him how real Érebos was. How tangible and present he was, how the sun shone down on him like it would any other human being. Érebos, as Orpheus had said of villagers before, was so incredibly human. Orpheus couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if this strange, beautiful man has said in the shadows for another several centuries without stepping out into the light. Would he have faded away? Would he have become a shadow himself? Would Orpheus have ever given up inviting him into life? No, Orpheus decided, shuttling down that train of thought. I did not, nor will I ever give up on you. It was a promise Érebos wouldn’t ever hear. A promise Orpheus would keep anyway.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Sept 27, 2020 15:26:55 GMT -5
How to handle this. L didn’t know. He had been invisible for too long, he supposed, to know how to be seen, heard, understood. He had followed Orpheus for too long, and in that time he had never had so much as a passing conversation with him. Was it any wonder that he didn’t know how to handle this? Was it any surprise that he stood there, silent in the golden light that turned his skin even paler? He understood Orpheus on some level, but not a personal one. Not one that would allow him to know what to say, what to do to make this work the way it was supposed to. He, too, shifted, his hands in his pockets, his usual terrible posture slightly worse as he forced himself not to run, hide, get away. He listened quietly to Orpheus explain, not reacting right away. He didn’t completely understand, but then, he guessed that that would take time. If Orpheus even wanted him there for more than a meeting, anyway. He knew Orpheus, but he didn’t know Orpheus. He knew him the way one knows a celebrity, not a friend. “Ah.” He said, still sounding a bit confused, but like he was trying. “You’re correct, it isn’t what I expected. However, as long as it isn’t unpleasant, I don’t mind.” His voice was so quiet, and he didn’t know how to make it clearer. His words were spoken with careful precision, mostly because he couldn’t speak without purpose anymore. Speaking in general was quite difficult, actually. He blinked, caught off guard by Orpheus’ next words. He hadn’t expected that at all. The immortal tilted his head slightly, eyes wide, almost expecting the other man to hug him then and there, but he didn’t. Which was probably a good thing, considering L hadn’t been hugged since before he was cursed. Why didn’t he resent L? Why didn’t he resent the years of solitude the smaller man had put him through? Would L have resented Orpheus, were their situations reversed? He couldn’t answer that. He couldn’t imagine a world where their situations could be reversed. “I don’t believe it is odd.” He answered finally. “Although it is surprising. I have done nothing but follow you since we both were cursed, yet you aren’t angry with me for making you deal with your situation alone. I don’t understand, but I am...grateful.” This moment would tell the tale of the rest of their lives. This moment would define what happened to them from now and into eternity. If L ran now, he wouldn’t come back. He knew that. He suspected Orpheus knew that, too. Whatever they had had, L had shattered it when he had chosen to come out of the dark. Whatever path they might have taken, they now had two options. One: they would walk beside each other. Two: they wouldn’t. Looking at Orpheus, L was surprised by what he saw. Orpheus was so real, standing there in front of him, the wind toying with his hair. He had imagined that this might happen for so long that it had ceased to be a real possibility in his head. He had imagined every scenario he could, every word that might come from the other immortal’s lips. Yet in none had he looked at L the way he did now. In none had he seemed intent on memorizing every detail of L’s face, and listened to his words with such concentration. In none had he been so…. “And yet I know yours.” He answered softly. It wasn’t fair, and he knew it. It wasn’t fair that he knew Orpheus and Orpheus had had no way of knowing him back. But that was exactly how it was, and he knew it was his doing. He hesitated. He could still walk away. He could still turn around right now and walk away and the only victims would be himself and Orpheus. The other man would move on, he told himself. He would have satisfied his curiosity, and he would continue on without L, and he would forget him. All L had to do was slip away into the dark, disappear, permanently. He could do it, too. He had proven he could do it. He didn’t feel human. He still felt like a shadow, simply one that had escaped its dark prison and fled into a place it shouldn’t go. He still felt like something half alive, half real, half nothing. He looked at Orpheus, wonder in his wide, dark eyes, and he couldn’t help feeling like anyone else would have given up on him a long time ago. How long would it have taken? Another century? Two? He would have given up eventually. Right? Maybe he wouldn’t have. After all, he had still invited him into the light 400 years after the curse. And L had accepted. He wasn’t going to run. He wasn’t going to hide. What he did was look into Orpheus’ eyes and say something he hadn’t said in over 400 years. “My name is L.”
Orpheus knew this wasn’t just a normal conversation. This was more important. There was more at stake. Orpheus wasn’t great at conversation at the best of times – surely Érebos – L – knew that from all the time he’d followed. Surely he knew the way Orpheus stuttered and said the wrong things and couldn’t seem to get a decent sentence out unless it was in the form of poetry. Maybe that meant L would cut him a break when this conversation eventually went bad, when Orpheus said the wrong thing. There was only one thing that Orpheus was certain of. L was a good person. Four hundred years proved a lot about a person. Orpheus knew too many people from his life who would have taken the opportunity to place themselves above the law, who would have murdered and stolen just for the sake of doing so. L… had never done anyone harm, as far as Orpheus was aware. He might have, of course, before Orpheus learned how to sense him, but for at least the past several hundred years, nothing. That said something about who he was. That said he was a good person. Better than Orpheus, probably. Not that the bar was particularly high. There was something about L’s voice that tugged at Orpheus’ heartstrings. Maybe it was how soft it sounded, how uncertain. Four hundred years. Had L ever spoken to anyone? Did he make conversation with the locals? Orpheus had never seen him do that, but he hadn’t seen him at all for a matter of centuries. For all he knew, L was quite possible. No, he knew he wasn’t. Perhaps it was just wishful thinking to believe that L had talked to anyone at all since that first day. “I don’t see why I would be angry with you,” Orpheus murmured shaking his head. “It’s my fault you’re here to begin with, isn’t it? I would think you’d be angry with me.” He didn’t know for sure what had happened, but he had figured out by then that it had to have been his fault. How could it not be? L had been there the day Orpheus had been cursed, and then he’d begun following him. “I’m sorry, by the way,” he managed, squeezing his eyes shut. “This was supposed to be my curse to bear alone. You shouldn’t have to suffer it as well.” Did L consider it suffering? Did L see it as a curse? Orpheus didn’t know, but he had a feeling if L had enjoyed the curse and the life it gave, he would have stepped up sooner. That, or he would have run away. The truth was, though, that Orpheus knew nothing about L. He could say nothing about how L reacted to things. He couldn’t look away from L, now that he was out in the open. Now that there was an actual person in front of him, a living, breathing person. Orpheus had never forgotten that L was another human being, but it was harder to remember just how real he was when he couldn’t even see him. “I have a feeling you know a great deal more about me than I know about you,” Orpheus replied, his voice as light as a feather. There was no accusation in his tone, just fact. “I don’t mind,” he added, in case that didn’t come across how he wanted it to. In case L thought Orpheus was upset about it. There was something about meeting L’s eyes that caused Orpheus’ heart to beat a little bit faster. How many eyes had he looked into, knowing full well the owner would die in a blink of Orpheus’ own eye? How many eyes had he avoided, not wanting to see how young they all looked? How often had he seen how ephemeral life was in the eyes of people he wished would live just a few years longer? Orpheus didn’t have to be afraid of any of that, not when he looked into L’s eyes. Because those eyes held as many years as Orpheus’ own. Those eyes had an eternity stretching out before them, had known the crushing loneliness of forever, had watched Orpheus for longer than Orpheus had even realized until much, much later. It was comfortable meeting those eyes. Familiar. They weren’t friends. They didn’t know each other. But they knew more about each other than anyone else in the world did. That meant something, didn’t it? “It’s nice to meet you, L.” Orpheus’ voice was so light as to be nearly inaudible. He knew what that meant. He knew what a name meant. He knew in that moment that L wasn’t going to leave. Not yet, at least. Orpheus hesitated for just a moment, unsure whether or not to say what was on his mind. “I meant what I said,” he managed after just a moment. “I’ll go anywhere you’d like to go. If there’s somewhere you’d like…” he gave a soft sigh, trying to capture some of his thoughts before they flew away. “You could go without me. But if you’d like me there, either by your side or in your shadow, I would… I would be willing.”
L knew Orpheus, but he didn’t know him. He knew Orpheus struggled with his words sometimes, an irony that was not lost on him. He also knew that Orpheus tried very hard to make his words come out right, which was very clear from the situations L had watched him in. So what didn’t he know? Well, he didn’t know that Orpheus cared as much as he did. He didn’t know how important this conversation was to the other immortal, he only knew how important it was to him. Which was, in short, quite possibly the most important thing he had ever done. L didn’t consider himself a good person, but he knew that Orpheus was. Orpheus had proven it again and again as L had watched him over the years. Four hundred years and all he had done was try to help others. Four hundred years and all he had done was his very best. L had watched him closely all that time, and his conclusion was simple. Orpheus didn’t deserve this punishment. Whatever had happened, L had concluded that much. Hades had either made a mistake, or it had been a personal grudge. L suspected the latter based on experience. He watched Orpheus carefully, unsure what to expect. He knew better than to believe that this was certain to go smoothly, after all. If anything, experience dictated that this was doomed to fail, and not jut fail a little bit, but dramatically, with explosions. So why was he even here? Why was he trying something he knew had a very low chance of succeeding, or even being at all beneficial to either of them? Was he so lonely that even a poor chance was better than none at all? The answer was yes. Even L Lawliet, it seemed, could not survive alone forever. The ache in his chest that never went away eased at the sight of Orpheus, and though he hated the idea that he was simply using the other man to feel less alone, he knew that it was, at least partially, true. Maybe Orpheus was using him, too. His eyes widened a little at the words. He hadn’t expected that. “It’s hardly your fault.” He pointed out, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly. The sun was entirely out by now and he squinted in the bright light he was so unfamiliar with. “I’m not angry with you.” He said finally, deciding that was easier than explaining all the ways in which it was not Orpheus’ fault. It was a curse, he knew, and he saw it as one, but the truth was that he was more afraid of death than he would care to admit. Even four hundred years after he should have been dead, he feared it. Even seeing what life forever might look like. Was he more afraid of dying or of living? Was he more afraid of speaking, or forever holding his tongue? He didn’t have those answers. L found himself unable to look away from Orpheus now that they were face to face, and the light reflected Orpheus’ dark eyes, giving them a gentle look. Or maybe that had nothing to do with the light. Maybe some eyes were gentle by nature. How could L know? He had seen few faces close enough to see whether their eyes were gentle or harsh, warm or cold. “Yes.” He agreed. He hoped that was okay, but he didn’t know how Orpheus felt about it until the other man spoke again, soothing L’s mind. He didn’t mind. He didn’t mind that L had followed him, that L hadn’t let him go even when he seemed to be trying to escape him. He didn’t mind. One thing that L had avoided was loss. He had failed to look into another person’s eyes in so long that he had almost forgotten what it was like to see people in something other than shades of gray. He had never stopped feeling the ache of the people around him, the ache that meant he knew he would outlive every single one of them, but it had been a long time since he had let himself get too close. Stay away, and it stayed an ache, rather than a pain too terrible to ever escape. But looking into Orpheus’ eyes was different. It did more than simply fail to hurt him, it soothed him. It was like cold water on a fresh burn. It was like air for someone who’d been drowning for hundreds of years. And L didn’t want to look away. He understood how aged those eyes were, and thought he could never know how it had felt to wander without someone to follow, he now knew that he had been a source of comfort, not of further pain. Yes, they may not have been friends. They barely knew each other, and L knew Orpheus far better than the other way around. But Orpheus knew L better than anyone had in a very long time. That meant something. That had to mean something. He didn’t say anything at first. This was so much more than he ever could have anticipated, so much that he didn’t know for sure what he should do now. He felt both awkward and oddly free, both trapped and safe. He could never take this moment back, but did he want to? No, his heart said firmly, he didn’t. A name wasn’t much. It was something that Orpheus hadn’t been given the chance to give willingly. But it was more than anyone had known about him in a very long time, and even that felt like tears after a bad day. Freeing. “I wouldn’t...I would not ask you to be a shadow.” He said finally, his low voice soft and uncertain. “You shine far too brightly for that, I think. But if you would be willing to come with me, I...I’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights.”
So much hinged on that moment. Orpheus could tell, he could sense that if he’d said the wrong thing, L might have already fled. Orpheus wouldn’t have blamed him. Who wanted to follow someone for four hundred years? Who wanted to have anything to do with that person after seeing them at their lowest points? Who would want one more minute of Orpheus in their lives if they were given a chance to do something – anything – else? But maybe that was just the self hatred talking. He’d had a long time to cultivate that. It wasn’t so much about winning L over. Well… it was, to some extent, but that wasn’t all. They had a history, one they shared, but one that neither seemed to know how to talk about. How do you talk about all the places you’ve been when only one person existed in the world of the living? Orpheus knee, of course, that L wasn’t dead, but wasn’t being a shadow almost the exact same thing? It wasn’t as though L had his own existence all those years. Orpheus would have felt him more distantly if that had been the case. “Hardly my fault?” Orpheus repeated, the words scarcely a whisper. “This is my curse. My burden to bear. And before you agree to let me go with you, you must know I’m the most selfish man on Earth because I’m so, so grateful that I don’t have to do it alone. You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for me. You would have lived a normal life and maybe had a job, a family. You wouldn’t have sacrificed all of that to follow a stranger around for centuries.” Orpheus frowned, aware that his voice had been edging out of the quiet tones they’d taken. Talking about this in the open was a great way to get themselves killed. “I’m sorry you have to shoulder the burden of my curse.” There it was, out in the open. A thought that Orpheus has kept to himself since he’d learned what the curse was in the first place. “Would you… would you like to find some shade?” Orpheus asked after a moment, frowning at the way L squinted in the light. As beautiful as the shadow looked once he emerged into the light (and he was undeniably beautiful. Unlike most shadows, he didn’t dissipate in the sun. He seemed to reflect and radiate the light unlike anything Orpheus had ever seen), Orpheus knew the sun wasn’t always kind. And yet… the eclipse was something special. “I don’t know what gods you believe in, if any,” Orpheus murmured quietly, “But I believe the eclipse to be Artemis upstaging her brother. Apollo wouldn’t like that much, but…” he gave a soft laugh, awkwardly tugging at the fabric around his neck. “I think it has to mean something, and it’s not that the gods are angry.” They both knew what it was like when the gods were angry. Orpheus had caused both of them to be on the receiving end of that anger. He let himself fall silent for a moment. L was a lot to take in – he was still processing the fact that L was real, and L was there, and for now, L wasn’t going to go away. It felt like falling through the ice and seeing the hole through which you fell. It felt like crawling back up through that hole and finding someone on the other side with a warm hug and something warm to drink. It was hard to look away from L’s gaze. Orpheus found he didn’t want to, but he was also aware that it probably seemed as though he were staring. He didn’t really want to do that, in case L misread his intent, but… he didn’t tear his gaze away. He couldn’t quite manage. There was a deceptive sort of youth in L’s eyes, the same that Orpheus was sure haunted his own. They were old. They were so, so old, and nobody but the other could possibly understand what that meant. Nobody else could understand just how much their eyes had seen. Orpheus had tried to lead them on a peaceful path, had tried to avoid bloodshed and horror, but it was impossible to live as long as they did without seeing death and violence. Without seeing disease and suffering. But they had also seen good things, hadn’t they? Youth and joy, love and laughter? Had L ever experienced love the way Orpheus had? From the sadness in his eyes, Orpheus wouldn’t have been surprised if the answer was yes. Love for anyone – platonic or romantic – was the only thing that Orpheus could think of that could make a person suffer as they both had. Did Orpheus regret the people he had loved? He looked away for a moment. No, he decided. He didn’t. L was talking again, and Orpheus realized he’d gotten lost in his own head. It would be odd, not being alone anymore. Having to actively pay attention to another person. Odd, but not… not bad. Not bad at all. “If you change your mind, I’d be happy to try to shadow you,” Orpheus managed after a moment. “I know where you’d be likely to hide, now, I could just… do as you would do.” His brows raised and he gave an uncertain smile. “Thank you, though,” he added after a long moment. “I do appreciate the sunlight and the stars.” Instinctively, Orpheus glanced North. He had learned how to navigate, how to keep North in mind at all time. Otherwise… well, he’d have gotten lost a long time ago. “Let’s go North, then,” he managed after a moment, the words a breathless whisper. He took a tiny step backwards, making room for L to start ahead. “After you.”
Everything rested on this moment between them. Everything rested on how this was going to go, whether L would stay or leave. He knew he couldn’t shadow Orpheus anymore now that he had stepped into the light. It was all or nothing now, they would walk side by side or not at all. He didn’t want to go, he discovered. He didn’t want to go, and that had to mean something, didn’t it? It had to mean something. There was so much context here, so much they could have said but didn’t need to. He didn’t want Orpheus to apologize because he didn’t believe there was anything to apologize for. He didn’t think Orpheus had done anything wrong. At least, he doubted it, based on what he knew of him. He wasn’t dead, but it had felt like he was, sometimes. It had felt like he was a lost soul, closed off from the living by his curse. He supposed that was what it felt like to be a ghost, to watch the living eat and drink and speak to each other and be unable to participate in it himself. It was a terrible thing, to be cut off. Humans weren’t meant to be alone. He listened quietly as Orpheus tried to explain. If anything, it made him even more sure that this was not Orpheus’ fault, because if it had been he would have been far more likely to either tell L what he had done or let L assume he wasn’t to blame. No, these were the actions of an honest man. He really believed that whatever had happened, it wasn’t his fault. It was strange to think that after so many years spent wondering what he had done to deserve this, but L thought it nevertheless. He glanced around, nervous. He knew that being discovered was a good way to test out whether they could die, and curse though this was, he didn’t want to be tortured and killed. He looked back at Orpheus, his wide, dark eyes soft. He didn’t answer. He didn’t know what there was to say. He considered that. “Yes, perhaps.” He agreed. The sun was warm and comforting but he wasn’t used to it, and it was going to take some time to change that. It was going to take some getting used to, existing in the light, he looked at Orpheus, and he was struck again by how he looked close up, not just watched from behind buildings and crouched under windows. He was so very real, up close. He nodded, looking away and poking his lip with his thumb, considering that. “Yes, that’s possible.” He agreed thoughtfully. “I suppose if that’s the case, the sun will shine all the brighter for being overshadowed, as Apollo will want to prove himself again.” He shook his head slightly. He knew it wasn’t anger from the gods. The gods were not subtle about how they felt, and if they had wanted to punish someone, they would have simply done so. This wasn’t anger, but it could have been a warning. Or maybe just a sign. He didn’t know how he had managed to step into the light after so long, but he found he was glad that he had done it. He didn’t want to be alone anymore, and he couldn’t think of anyone he would rather get to know. He couldn’t think of anyone he would rather be seen by. They had been looking at each other for a while now, L realized, but he didn’t look away. It was like drinking cold water after a long run in the heat. It was like lying down after a very tiring day. It was everything L hand had in forever and he didn’t want to lose it, he didn’t want to walk away, he didn’t want Orpheus to find out that he wasn’t a good person, not nearly as good as Orpheus himself was. Yet he wouldn’t lie. He wouldn’t keep it hidden, because if he were going to stay then he had to be who he was. If he were going to stay then he had to be real, more real than he had been in a very long time. Wasn’t that the whole point of standing here, now? Wasn’t that the whole point of existing at all? He hadn’t experienced life in four hundred years. He had been a ghost, a shadow, untouched by the living and unable to touch anyone else. Yet he had once, hadn’t he} hadn’t he loved Watari? Hadn’t Watari loved him back? He looked down. He could still remember what his father looked like, even now. He could still remember the feel of being carried and the taste his his birthday treats and falling asleep curled up next to him. Didn’t that mean anything? He wasn’t used to talking anymore. He half expected Orpheus not to hear him at all, his voice was so soft and uncertain, hesitant because it had been too long for him to remember how to have a conversation. If Orpheus wanted someone who was good at speaking to be his companion, L was going to have to disappoint him. He hoped that was okay. He didn’t know what to expect here, or what Orpheus expected, he didn’t know what he was supposed to do in the light, and he didn’t want to mess this up. He just had to hope that Orpheus was okay with him taking time to learn to be human again. He nodded. “You do seem to have an almost uncanny ability to know where I hide.” He agreed. “I do appreciate that you stopped looking after a while, though I could tell you still knew where I was. How, I don’t know.” He met Orpheus’ eyes. He was really willing to go where L wanted to go, wasn’t he? He was really going to let L lead the way. He turned North, the wind picking up his hair and tossing it. He took his first step into his new life, and then he looked back at Orpheus, and offered his first tiny smile.
Orpheus would have been okay with L no matter who he was or what he did. Any man with the patience to live in the shadows for years, with the kindness to not take out his frustration on the millions of innocents they’d walked past, anyone who didn’t mind existing and keeping one man company despite not knowing each other… well, any man who could do all of that, who would follow and do no harm for centuries… Orpheus had a hard time believing anyone who could do that was a bad person. He had a hard time believing that, as little as he knew about L, anything could change his opinion. Particularly not something as small as whether or not he was an excellent conversationalist. It wasn’t as though Orpheus was great with conversation either. It was easier to speak through music, to say things in ways that touched people’s souls instead of in ways they had to puzzle through in their minds. Orpheus knew people’s hearts. Unfortunately, he knew next to nothing about how they thought. Orpheus still thought of himself as human. He figured he always would – it was easier than admitting to himself that maybe he wasn’t as close to the man he used to be as he wanted. It was easier than admitting to himself that he, like Hades, could be corrupted by knowing he would always live longer than anyone else. He didn’t want to become callous about other people’s lives. He didn’t want to wake up one morning thinking himself better, because he wasn’t. Curse though it was, he knew that it would get to most people’s heads. They would see themselves as invincible. They would perhaps even see themselves as a god. Orpheus didn’t know whether or not he was immune to that, but in case he wasn’t, he tried to take every opportunity to be human. Which was, perhaps, what surprised him so much about L. The shadow, though still pale and uncertain in the light, was just as human as any of the several dozen walking around them. You could strip them both of their mortality, but they would both still remain human. And wasn’t that a beautiful thing to be? “Magic, perhaps,” he laughed softly, giving L another small smile. “Or perhaps I just got used to the places that you were likely to hide. I had a long time to learn.” Although Orpheus didn’t say it out loud, because he didn’t know L’s perspective on magic or things like that yet, he figured the latter option was still a sort of magic. The opportunity to know a person well enough to know where they would be – even if it was a learned behavior, how was that not magic? Orpheus watched as L took that first step, and his own heart fluttered in his chest. The wind was changing, and this time Orpheus wasn’t afraid of it. L might have followed him all around the world, but Orpheus knew in that moment that he would follow L anywhere. And then L turned to smile, and Orpheus felt his heart shatter, even as he smiled back. What exploded out wasn’t pain or fear, he didn’t cut himself on the fragments, he just… felt it break. He didn’t know whether or not he wanted to pick up the pieces, because for the first time in so long… he felt open and vulnerable and prepared to face whatever it was the world had to throw at him, so long as L was by his side, and not just in the shadows. Perhaps, he realized, it wasn’t his heart that had cracked, but the wall he’d built around it. Any second thoughts forgotten, he took a step and followed L. --- It had been a few hours since they started travelling, and though Orpheus normally would have soldiered through for at least a few days, he didn’t want to push it so much right now. He was letting L set the pace, of course, but seeing as it was their first evening together… “I picked up some supplies in Assur,” he managed, one of the first words spoken since they’d started walking. It was similar to travelling alone, but so, so different. He was watching L’s back as much if not more than he usually watched his own, and though he didn’t expect the other immortal to speak, he kept wondering what he was thinking about. While L had always been there while Orpheus was travelling, this was far from the same. Orpheus could reach out and talk to him if he wanted, he could ask him questions, but he didn’t want to drive his companion away. Better save the questions until they were both perfectly comfortable. “I can make dinner, if you’d like.” When was the last time either of them had eaten? For Orpheus it had been a few days, and he could feel the hunger already beginning to gnaw at his stomach. He wouldn’t die from it, at least not for a long time, but it certainly wasn’t pleasant. He couldn’t imagine L liked the feeling any more than he did. Perhaps traveling together would make them both take better care of themselves. That was certainly an idea. “I think I even have the supplies to make dessert.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Oct 14, 2020 21:52:26 GMT -5
L didn’t know Orpheus as well as he thought, because he still didn’t realize that Orpheus was actually okay with him having followed for so long. It seemed obvious, but it was just hard to believe, perhaps. He wasn’t used to existing at all, much less anyone noticing or caring whether or not he did. Of course, Orpheus had known about him for a long time now, but that was somehow different from standing right in front of him and looking into his eyes and seeing the expression there was not one of disgust or hatred, but of the same kindness he had shown to so many others. He was good at figuring out how people thought, but not how they felt. He was almost the opposite of Orpheus in that way, though he didn’t yet know it. He didn’t know why it was so hard for him to talk to people, but he didn’t think it was the same reason it was hard for Orpheus. Did L consider himself human? Perhaps…he wasn’t actually sure. Humans weren’t supposed to live forever. Humans were supposed to live and then die, like flowers. What was it that made you human? He didn’t know. Maybe they had both lost that already...no, he didn’t think Orpheus had, at least. Orpheus seemed like the most human person L had ever met, standing there in the light with his soft, kind expression. Maybe….maybe if Orpheus could still be human, then it wasn’t too late for L. Maybe he still had a chance, too. “Magic?” He repeated, bemused by the thought. Then again, what was this if not magic? It certainly wasn’t normal, was it? Still, he found the second explanation made more sense to him overall, and he nodded, agreeing. “Yes.” He said seriously. “We’ve both had a very long time to learn.” And he didn’t just mean where he was likely to hide. Maybe it was magic. It was strange to even consider it, but was it stranger than the fact that he stood here in the light for the first time in four hundred years? They were both taking the first steps of something new and beautiful and they were both broken and they were both whole. And L stood in the light and Orpheus stood behind him and they were going North. --- L was used to walking for very long periods of time. He was used to following Orpheus when the other immortal didn’t stop for days on end, and so he was surprised when Orpheus spoke up. He glanced back, his watchful dark eyes inquisitive. It was so strange to not be following Orpheus. To be setting the pace. To have someone following him, and to know that he could go anywhere in the world, if he wanted to. And Orpheus had promised to follow, at his side or in the shadows, and for some incomprehensible reason L believed him. He believed him completely. He also knew that Orpheus could have bombarded him with the questions he probably had, and he hadn’t done that. He had just let the silence between them rest comfortably instead, and L was grateful for that, because he wasn’t ready for questions yet. He wasn’t ready for much, if he were being honest with himself. He couldn’t remember the last time he had eaten. Probably a few days at the very least. He tended to only eat when he could find the food he liked, and that wasn’t very often, so he ate quite infrequently and with no real schedule to it, he had mostly forgotten that most people had set mealtimes and things they ate at those times. It had just been too long. He was hungry, though, and eating with someone, though frightening, was also strangely appealing. He stopped walking, considering Orpheus for a long moment before giving a nod. “All right.” He agreed, glancing around the area they were now in. “Please, do.”
Orpheus gave a small smile, walking a few more steps before setting his lyre down. He usually carried more than one instrument, but when he was making long journey he always sold whatever the extraneous instrument was. Not the lyre. Never the lyre. A gift from Apollo himself, and, more importantly, a gift from Érebos. From L. Unfortunately, finding firewood was not going to be the easiest thing Orpheus had ever done. They were practically in the middle of the dessert, and until they started making their way Northward, they would be for a while. If they needed to hunt, they would also have some trouble with that. Fortunately, they didn’t need much to survive, and Orpheus was stubborn. He scrounged up what little firewood he could, building a tiny fire out of it before looking up at L with a small smile. Normally he would be worried about drawing attention, but there wasn’t anyone after them, and they were far enough away from society that most people didn’t come this far. Anyone who did was desperate. They’d made pretty good progress for one day, and though they could have kept walking for a few more… as Orpheus emptied his bag of the supplies he had gathered, he found he was grateful L had been willing to stop. The dried meat he had gathered could be softened up if cooked right, and the vegetables were still fresh. Better than Orpheus had allowed himself while travelling… well, ever. Not to mention the dessert he could make as well. Diples, if he did it right. He already had the dough made, he just needed to find a way to cook it out here. Fortunately, he’d had nothing but time to figure out how to improvise and cook things properly. It wasn’t long before Orpheus had the meat over the fire, hopefully bringing back some of the taste it had once had. He was in the process of rolling out the dough when he remembered he had company. It wasn’t so much that he had forgotten, just that L’s presence was something he was used to, just… not like this. “Would… you like some of the dough while I wait for the pan to be free?”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Oct 31, 2020 18:26:41 GMT -5
L watched as he set the lyre down. When he had first returned it, he had wondered whether Orpheus would even keep it. He had ample reason not to, after all. It would have been easy to get rid of it. It said a lot that he still had it. What it said, exactly, L was still working out. He didn’t have the context yet, after all. Maybe he would soon, or maybe he wouldn’t for a while. Either way, he would figure it out eventually. L tried to help find firewood, but truthfully, he probably wasn’t very useful. He wandered a little, scanning the ground for anything they could use, and then eventually returning empty handed as he realized he didn’t know how to start a fire. Over four hundred years old, and he didn’t know how to start a fire. Well...in his defense, he had never had the chance to learn. Fire would have attracted unwanted attention, and he hadn’t frozen to death, so apparently it was fine. He watched Orpheus closely, coming over to look at the small fire with the sort of open curiosity one might have for something they had seen as a little kid and not since then. Though they hadn’t necessarily needed to stop, it was nice that they had. He didn’t actually have any supplies, personally, so it was a good thing that Orpheus was willing to share with him. Not that he was in danger of starving to death. As far as he could tell, he wouldn’t, even if it did get a little uncomfortable eventually. It took a lot longer for him than for a regular person, though. He tilted his head a little, staring at the food, which looked...strange, but also familiar. Oh. The last time he had done more than scrounge for scraps, Watari had cooked him dinner. Meat, vegetables, and something sweet for dessert. His eyes widened a little at the thought, and he looked at Orpheus, his expression difficult to read. It was like the end of something - no - it was like the beginning. It was like things was really about to change. Was he ready for that? He was quiet as he watched Orpheus work. He was used to being silent and ignored, used to being a shadow, and he didn’t really expect anything to change. So when Orpheus actually addressed him, his eyes widened a little and he hesitated, uncertain whether he was meant to respond. “Yes.” He decided out loud, and came close, cautious and walking silently over the ground, his bare feet soft against the earth. When he was close enough, he crouched next to Orpheus and reached for the dough, his fingers aiming to pinch off the edge. Hopefully, that was what Orpheus had intended.
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Cloudy Sky: Seeing the name gave me flashbacks to certain events that happened about two weeks ago.
Jun 22, 2021 4:51:35 GMT -5
Violetsky: Her name is Tika. She's a Cymric, or long-haired Manx.
Jun 22, 2021 6:27:08 GMT -5
Violetsky: I left the gel pack in the freezer overnight and now it's a solid thick sheet of ice.
Jun 22, 2021 6:32:05 GMT -5
Violetsky: Cymric is the technical term for a Manx cat that has long hair.
Jun 22, 2021 13:48:50 GMT -5
Violetsky: Technically they are Manx's as well; they are not a separate breed but an alternative variety of traditional Manx's, which are short-haired. They're also called longhair Manx's.
Jun 22, 2021 13:50:11 GMT -5
Violetsky: It's okay, I thought she was a traditional Manx for a while
Jun 22, 2021 14:02:13 GMT -5
Violetsky: Well, she is. It's like if brown bears that lived further up North had thicker and longer fur than their southern counterparts. If that was true, then they would be the same species and "breed", they just have different adaptations.
Jun 22, 2021 14:02:52 GMT -5