Post by ®Hawkpath® on Apr 22, 2021 10:48:58 GMT -5
L blinked in, writing with his left hand and tapping the table that was no longer there with his right one. He stopped quickly as the paper vanished, the pen still held loosely between his thumb and Index finger. He put it down on the couch and stood up, slipping his hands in his pockets and glancing around. Once, he would have immediately checked for Orpheus, hoping to see him there, to greet him with a smile. But those days were long behind him now. He did check for Orpheus, but his eyes were searching not for someone he loved, but a threat. No. Not that either. He did love Orpheus, he always would, it wasn’t possible not to. But then, was it really Orpheus his eyes scanned the room for? He was exhausted. How he’d once believed things would be okay, how he’d once believed he would die first and never need to grieve...and he’d never, ever expected things to go the way they’d gone. Never once expected not only to lose Orpheus, but to be tortured with him long afterwards. Maybe he didn’t know the House as well as he’d thought. Either way, whether it was Orpheus somehow or merely a House illusion, it never seemed to stop hurting. But he wasn’t here now. L hesitated, then turned to the blank books, wanting to avoid the rooms for as long as he could before he ran out of other things to do.
A figure appeared, kneeling on the torn, stained carpet of the living room, head bowed as he supported his weight on his hands. His eyes were closed, but there was something of nervous, almost scared anticipation in his expression. And then he opened one eye, peeking at his surroundings like he wasn’t sure it was alright. Oh. He didn’t notice he wasn’t alone. He was too caught up in noticing himself. A red bandana tied around his neck, the way he used to wear it. He tugged lightly at it, the familiar pressure against the back of his neck bringing him comfort. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had it on. But… he could remember. Every room, every person he’d hurt, every time he hadn’t recognized L, every time he’d hurt him, even if the scars he left weren’t physical. Orpheus took in a deep, nearly ragged breath, letting the instrument on his shoulder slip into his hands. How long since he last played? Time… time didn’t feel real anymore. Maybe that was because Orpheus himself wasn’t real. His fingers dusted over the strings, his hesitation asking a question – did he deserve to play again? Did he deserve to bring music into a world where he’d only caused harm? He set the instrument aside with trembling hands, wondering for the first time where he was. If it were the House, it would be there. Or he wouldn’t be there. The fact that he was aware enough to question his memories probably meant that they were actually his, he figured. The House wasn’t that careless. And for the first time, excluding right after every death, he remembered everything.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Apr 22, 2021 17:29:52 GMT -5
L didn’t immediately notice Orpheus blink in, his back to the room, though he knew that wasn’t smart. Now more than ever, he was on his own here, and the living room was no longer a safe haven from the House’ abilities. He’d believed it was, once. But Orpheus had been here as much as any room, so he was aware he’d been wrong. It was far from the only thing he’d been wrong about. It was easier to think about, though. He was tired. Tired of coming here only to see Orpheus hurt, tired of seeing Orpheus hurt others, tired of trying to be strong and to hold onto hope even when it felt like there was none, the way Orpheus had showed him. The thing about hope was that it was hard. It was so very hard to hold onto something that made you believe things were going to be alright when you didn’t know if they were. Or even when you had the strangest feeling they weren’t. Maybe he was just tired of being alone when the person he loved was right next to him. He turned away, deciding he didn’t much care about the books…and froze. Turning his back on the room had been a bad idea, and he scolded himself for it. He hadn’t seen Orpheus blink in. Orpheus…L’s heart was too shattered to break now, but it felt like the pieces were being ground into dust at the sight of him there, looking like he had before he’d died. He even had his bandana, and his instrument with him, and his expression… Ah, he’d been wrong. His heart could still break after all. The expression did it, the open, vulnerable look on the face L had memorized countless times before. He watched as Orpheus’ trembling fingers moved soundlessly over the strings. And then he turned away. And realized there was no hall. He froze. This room…it wasn’t the living room, or not completely. Not that he thought the living room was safe anymore anyway. But he wanted out. He didn’t think he could survive one more encounter with an Orpheus who wasn’t Orpheus at all.
Orpheus breathed out, wondering at the fact that he still needed to breathe. He had died. He remembered dying, remembered L holding him, remembered knowing that dying was a betrayal of its own. He bit his lip, wishing he could go back and undo it all. Not… not Elpis. He didn’t want to undo Elpis. But if he could change his own fate… if he could have spared L the pain he had caused him over and over and over again… he let his eyes close for a brief moment, trying to process being here, being himself… it wasn’t just rare. It was unheard of. Then Orpheus finally tore his gaze away from his instrument, glancing around the too-familiar room. He had loved blinking in, once. He had loved seeing friends and… and seeing L, and falling in love… he had more bad memories in his head than good, now. It was true that the House mostly used him in rooms, but it wasn’t unheard of for him to appear in the living room. Somehow… remembering not remembering, remembering every time L had looked at him when he wasn’t violent, remembering the hope fade from L’s eyes as Orpheus was a stranger time after time… that hurt more than anything else. Even if that wasn’t technically the most painful. He lifted a hand, letting it dust over his arm – it was unmarred, but he remembered pain lancing through it as Kelsier rose to the House’s challenge. Yes, that hurt less than watching L lose him in real time. It hurt less than watching L give up. Orpheus thought he understood now, how quickly L’s thoughts ran. All of that had passed through his mind in the split second it had taken for it to register that he wasn’t alone. “I think,” he managed, voice sounding small and uncertain even to his own ears, “that if this were some fantastic poem or… or story… I’d tell you ‘I could teach you, if you want.’ And you’d know it’s me, and the audience would remember the first time we met, but… but it’s not that simple anymore, is it, Λ?”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Apr 22, 2021 18:26:52 GMT -5
Turning away was hard, but L did it. Because what was harder was facing him. What was harder was trying to talk to him, to make him remember to...well. To try and undo whatever had happened. Even if he knew it wasn’t going to happen, now. He had believed he could fix this, at first. It was an unusual sort of challenge from the House, yes, but surely not unheard of...he knew Orpheus had died, really died. Or did he? Now that he was aware the living room wasn’t completely safe from illusions, how could he trust even that? If someone had told him he would lose hope, he would have told them he refused. He’d had a good teacher, after all, someone who had been through so much and had come out whole. Of course I won’t give up, he imagined saying confidently, not when there’s still hope. Not when he still needs me. He had truly never intended to lose hope. But he’d never intended to lose Orpheus in the first place, either. Plenty of good that had done anyone. Maybe it felt like a betrayal to face the wall instead of letting himself drown in gentle hazel eyes. Maybe it even was a sort of betrayal. Did it even matter anymore? He wasn’t there to feel it. Only L was. He wasn’t looking when Orpheus touched his arm, didn’t see the thoughts in his eyes. It probably wouldn’t have mattered even if he’d been looking, but he wasn’t. And then the voice that haunted his days and nights alike spoke and he tensed, prepared for whatever the House had chosen to inflict on him this time. Perhaps he’d ask who he was. Perhaps he’d introduce himself with the wrong name. Perhaps - But he didn’t. L turned, slowly, eyes cautious as he faced Orpheus again, though he didn’t come any closer. “What did you call me?” He asked after a very long moment, his voice small and so, so wary. He didn’t quite process the rest of it right away, he was so focused on that one word. A word he hadn’t heard in a very long time.
Orpheus couldn’t see it as a betrayal. How could he, when he had been the one to agree to something that had the power to break L’s heart? He was a hypocrite, deep down. He claimed to be there for the people he loved, claimed that he tried to bring hope or make things even, but he had handed the House the very weapon it could use to destroy L. He hadn’t meant to, but… he hadn’t meant to lose Eurydice, either. In the end, it didn’t matter what he meant, it mattered what had happened. Looking at L now… how could he blame him for giving up? How could he blame him for losing hope, for turning away? He had done everything he could, at first, and Orpheus hadn’t been strong enough to fight the House. It was odd, Orpheus thought, how much more he could love L after hundreds of conversations where he hadn’t known who he was. L had proven time and time again that he was there, that he would keep fighting… Orpheus didn’t deserve him. If there had been a hallway, still, he thought he might have let him walk away without saying something. But maybe he was a little bit selfish. Maybe he wanted to spend what was certainly a limited time as himself with the man he had fallen for. The man he loved enough that even the House couldn’t make him hurt him. At least… not directly. Orpheus bit his lip nervously, his fingers tapping against his leg with no discernable rhythm. Well… that wasn’t quite true. The taps kept almost forming words, and Orpheus had to make a conscious effort to stop them. Knowing L, he’d be able to read it anyway. But Orpheus didn’t think he wanted L to be able to read his doubts, not now. Not when his doubts weighed more heavily on him than ever before, if only because he was himself enough to have doubts and regrets. “Your name,” Orpheus managed in return, his voice quiet, almost broken. “As it would be in my world, at least.” He wasn’t sure he had a world, anymore. The thought hurt, but he shoved it away. “It’s… been too long since I used it last.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Apr 22, 2021 19:12:16 GMT -5
L didn’t know what had happened. He didn’t know what Orpheus had done. All he knew was that Orpheus had died, and L hadn’t thought it could possibly get any worse, and then it had. He couldn’t make any judgements, or even have an opinion about whether Orpheus was a hypocrite or not. Not yet, anyway. All he had were his own theories and ideas, and they weren’t enough for him, not by far. He wanted answers. And more than answers, he wanted this, whatever it was, to stop. Even if a small, traitorous part of him protested that at least he could still see Orpheus’ face this way. It wasn’t him. But it looked like him. He’d given up, yes. He’d turned away, would have walked away if he could. Was there a reason he wasn’t allowed to grieve? Why him, why Orpheus, why of all the people in all the worlds had the House chosen him to demonstrate its infinite powers? He couldn’t bring himself to be angry anymore, even if he knew he had cause. Orpheus’ memory, instead of being preserved forever, had been used as a weapon to toy with L. It wasn’t fair, but he was just too tired to be angry anymore. His dark eyes flicked down to the tapping, and he read it like words on a page, without even meaning to. They were choppy and unfinished, but he could make out bits and pieces, fragments of thought he clung to even if he didn’t want to anymore. It wasn’t Orpheus’ brain making them anymore, after all. He didn’t answer for a long moment. He didn’t know what to say...the House was getting good at this, he thought numbly. Keeping him on his toes, never knowing what to expect next. He had to admit he hadn’t seen this coming, though he did have to appreciate the dedication to torturing him. Seeing Orpheus the way he’d been before did indeed hurt as much as he assumed the House had anticipated. There didn’t seem to be words anymore. “Yes,” he heard himself say, his voice and expression both trying to be closed off. Neither was really succeeding, though anyone who didn’t know him would be hard pressed to read him. He searched in vain for something else to say, but there was nothing more he could try. No more tricks or lies or plans, nothing but a broken heart.
Orpheus watched L carefully, taking note of the thoughts that flickered behind his eyes, the thoughts he had heard once… he had thought he’d learned to read them before then, but that was before he knew how many there were. And he had dedicated every moment with L to learning how to know him, to know what he was thinking, to be there for him and be at his side… it seemed he hadn’t lost what he had learned. He couldn’t recreate every thought that passed through L’s mind but… well, loving him would be boring if he could. He could understand most of them, though, and that had been enough. Now it just… hurt. “I don’t have proof,” he said after a long moment, voice tight. “I don’t have proof that… that I’m not the House. I know how much hope hurts, I know it would be cruel of me to ask you if… if you could try to have a little bit…” he trailed off, blinking at the feeling of tears tracing their way down his cheeks. It… it felt good to cry. He didn’t know when he’d last done it. “You don’t have to believe me…” he cut himself off quickly before he called L another name, one that may not be received as readily as ‘Λ.’ Perhaps L had learned how much love hurt. Perhaps he never wanted to be referred to as ‘love’ again… Orpheus would understand, if that was the case. Though he supposed he wouldn’t have very long to understand. “But even if you don’t, I can tell you what happened. And… if you’ll hear me… I’d like to apologize for it.” He was aware how strangled his voice sounded, aware of the desperate note in his tone. “I don’t know how long I have,” he added, his voice little more than a gasp. He was tired, too… though he didn’t have nearly as much excuse as L did. It was easier to be the weapon that it was to be the target, he thought. “But I need you to know… I expected this to hurt me. I expected to be destroyed. But if I thought… if I thought for even a moment that you’d be dragged into this time after time after time…” he couldn’t finish that thought. The truth was, he didn’t know what he would have done. And it didn’t matter, now. He’d lost L regardless. He’d been responsible for shattering him. He couldn’t take that back.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Apr 22, 2021 20:00:16 GMT -5
L listened quietly as Orpheus began to speak, and then to cry. He felt frozen...trapped in a maze of options, and he didn’t know which path led to freedom. He didn’t interrupt, didn’t speak at all, only let the sound of Orpheus’ voice wash over him. And the longing. He let that wash over him, too. How often had he wished this to be a bad dream, one he could simply wake up from and leave behind, half forgotten? But he knew it wasn’t. He was awake and this was real and he had to walk through it even if it killed him. He suspected it might, eventually. “But you are asking me to hope,” he managed quietly, meeting Orpheus’ eyes. “You are.” Or maybe that was just L. He couldn’t quite tell for sure. He looked away, blinking rapidly as Orpheus continued. Falling silent. Trying to understand, because...because he wanted to understand. And he wanted to hope, he wanted to believe, he wanted to forget everything that had happened between that last blink and now. “I don’t understand,” he breathed, and his eyes dragged themselves back to his face, searching it once again for signs of the person he’d loved. He’d grown so used to never finding him there, and now… The House could impersonate people almost exactly. He knew that. It was toying with him, trying to see if after everything, he would fall for it again. He wanted to believe Orpheus, like he’d always wanted to believe in him since the moment they’d met, like he had before he’d even trusted him. What’s stopping you? He was shaking, he realized, though it didn’t much matter to him. He took a breath, trying to mask his expression into something more neutral, and tried again to speak. “I don’t understand,” he said again, putting a little more force into it. “I...you knew this would happen? You expected it to hurt you...you knew before you d - “ His voice gave out, and he looked down, clasping his hands anxiously in front of him. “I’m listening,” managed after a pause. It was the best he could offer.
“I’ve always asked you to do that, haven’t I?” Orpheus managed, voice breaking. “It’s a hard habit to break now.” He knew it was cruel to ask L to hope, knew that he didn’t have any proof that things could ever be alright again. He didn’t have any proof besides the fact that he felt like himself again for the first time in… well, it felt like an eternity, but it was hard to know. He didn’t want to look away from L. He wanted to drown In his eyes like he had been able to for… for not long enough. Not long enough. He took a deep breath, trying to gather himself enough to tell the story. He didn’t think L would understand completely, but… but this was his only chance to tell him what had happened. To come close to giving him the answers he deserved. And he had a feeling it wasn’t the answer L wanted. It would have been easier, if this had just been the House being cruel. If it hadn’t been Orpheus’ own actions that had led them here. Eventually Orpheus looked away too, hanging his head a little bit as he searched for the right words. He could play it for L, write a song, but… but it wasn’t a story. It wasn’t a legend. It was the truth. And it was Orpheus knowing how terribly he’d failed yet another person he loved. “Do you remember the game with the frogs?” Orpheus asked eventually, lifting his gaze just long enough to catch L’s before he cast it down again. “After you died… the House gave me a challenge. Kill someone, and you’d come back. And they… they didn’t know anything, they didn’t have a name,” Orpheus felt his voice break, but he pushed forward. “So I gave them one. I named them Elpis… hope. And I told them I wouldn’t kill them. So we played for your life instead, and they threw the game, and I promised them that I’d find a way for them to live. For them to be free. It took a long time, but I found them again, in a room. I didn’t know if I’d ever have an opportunity again, so I challenged the House to chess. If I won… it had to let Elpis go. If it won… I took their place when I died.” Orpheus hesitated a moment, pulling his knees to his chest. “It was the best I’d ever played. I almost beat it. Almost.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Apr 22, 2021 23:36:50 GMT -5
L listened quietly, his heart beating quick against his ribs. Orpheus was sitting there, right in front of him...but if had been too many times. Again and again and again, he’d tried to reach Orpheus, tried to get him back, and now...was he back? Was he really back now? He wished he had proof one way or the other, because if he wasn’t...no. No, he’d said he didn’t have much time. If this was Orpheus...really Orpheus...it was temporary. So he listened. And he tried to stop the tears from breaking free, he tried to keep his expression cold and indifferent, he did try, but Orpheus, as usual, had a way of disarming him. He’d cried before, around Orpheus, but it had been awhile since he’d even cried in front of the fake versions the House kept sending him. At some point, he supposed, you got used to torture and it stopped working. He wondered if he’d ever get to that point. He moved almost without meaning to, bare feet silent against the familiar green carpet as he stepped a little closer to where Orpheus crouched. “It’s actually you. Isn’t it?” He asked quietly, but he didn’t wait for an answer. The story had told him everything he needed to know. “Yes, I remember that room. How could I forget? It’s right before one of my favorite memories.” He stopped moving, eyes flicking up to catch Orpheus’ for just a moment before he looked down again. It was much easier to study the carpet. “Don’t,” he continued quietly, his words soft but intense. “Don’t tell me you thought it wouldn’t hurt me. You...you knew it would hurt you. How can you believe there’s a difference between the two?” He bit his lip to stop it from trembling, ignoring the tears on his face as best he could. Then he was moving before he could stop himself, throwing himself at Orpheus, not bothering to slow down as he opened his arms to embrace him.
“We both thought you would die first,” Orpheus whispered, throat closing against the words. “And I wished it would be otherwise, I… I wanted a long life for you, I wanted to believe you’d get to grow old… but your job is dangerous. And I thought that when it happened, I’d have lived a full life. I thought… I thought you wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences. But I don’t… I don’t think the House would have let Elpis go at all if it didn’t know what would happen to me. I was…” he hesitated, swallowing back tears that insisted on falling. “I wanted to tell you. I wanted to try to find a way out of it, with you. But if I told you, you would’ve died, and I… I thought I would have time to fix it on my own… and these are all excuses. Because I hurt you, whether I wanted to or not. I-” he cut off as L slammed into him, eyes widening as he immediately wrapped his arms around L. It was like falling into place, coming home… it was like holding L was more essential to who he was than the memories or the music. Orpheus felt his own body shaking against L’s, thrown back to a time when they’d both been trembling for a very different reason. His hand automatically drifted up to comb through L’s hair, and he breathed in like L was oxygen itself. He couldn’t change what had happened. He couldn’t undo the harm he had done, and he wouldn’t undo Elpis’ freedom. The most he could do was hold L like he deserved to be held, exist here, where there was nobody in his head but himself. And the memory of thousand of versions of himself that had been used with the sole intent to harm. “Every time I die, I remember,” he whispered, voice hoarse. “And I hold you, even though you can’t feel me, until I don’t remember anymore.”
L didn’t speak as he pressed himself close to Orpheus, feeling them both trembling almost as one when they were this close. He knew Orpheus was right, he knew they’d both expected L would die first...a stupid expectation, he knew now. The world was far too unpredictable to expect anything at all. He listened instead, listened as Orpheus breathed, listened to the heart that beat in defiance of death. The House had done this. Orpheus, too, but the House had put him in the situation in the first place, the House had given him the chance to save someone innocent...and he had sprung at the chance, as he always did. “You promised to wait for me,” he whispered finally, his voice catching in his throat. It wasn’t an accusation, there was no anger in his tone, none at all. But he needed to say it out loud. To accept that it wasn’t going to happen. Because this meant whatever might have happened, Orpheus would never come to L’s world. He’d never haunt him. It had been a foolish, hope, but a hope nonetheless. One more hope, smashed to nothing. “I missed you,” he added, because that was even more important. “I thought I’d never see you again...I thought I’d never get to say I love you again, or let you hold me, or…” The tears flowed freely. He didn’t have any power to stop them even if he’d wanted to. What was done was done, and he wasn’t angry. How could he possibly be angry when they were here and Orpheus was himself? Maybe he hadn’t thought it through, but he’d saved a life. Didn’t that count for anything? “I believe you,” he managed to reply, pressing closer. “And I can feel you now. I can feel you here, with me.”
Orpheus pulled L even closer, his own tears falling more rapidly as L pointed out what Orpheus already knew. “I thought I knew better than to make more promises I couldn’t keep,” he managed, his voice so quiet that L wouldn’t have been able to hear him if they weren’t as close as they were. “I thought I could keep that one, I would have… I would have done everything to be able to.” He wanted to see L’s world. He wanted to haunt him, no matter how long it took to get there. Three thousand years was a blink of an eye compared to the hell he’d been through here. And at least there he’d be able to make plans to surprise L with. He had planned to learn Japanese perfectly, had planned to appear and write something in Japanese, with maybe a Greek character or two sprinkled in to show L that it was him. But the future as he had imagined it was unavailable to him. And he wouldn’t undo saving Elpis. He repeated that to himself. He didn’t know where they were, but… but he hoped they were okay. “But you did,” he added softly, squeezing his eyes tight as he buried his fingers in L’s hair, one finger tapping against his scalp. Fragments of thoughts, unfiltered. Just like it had been before, when everything… when everything had been… there was no word for it. Perhaps just when there had been a future. “You said you loved me, and I heard you, every time. I heard it when you stopped me from hurting people. When you spoke to me and you were the first person I could remember meeting. When you had to refrain from taking my hand, but you weren’t used to it yet… I heard you, Λ. I didn’t know what it meant, and I didn’t know how to respond, but I need you to know I heard.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Apr 23, 2021 12:31:02 GMT -5
L breathed, trying not to let himself melt too much, but it was unavoidable. Once he’d started, he couldn’t stop, couldn’t help getting as close as he could, curling so their bodies couldn’t possibly get any closer. He shuddered a little at the feeling of Orpheus’ hands in his hair and eyes closing as the rest of the tension bled away. He didn’t want to move, he never wanted to move again, not when even the tiniest shift could make him disappear and never come back. All their plans were gone now. He couldn’t get them back, neither of them could. “All I wanted was to get you back,” he breathed, tilting his head so he could see Orpheus’ expression. “And now you’re here. You’re here...all I wanted was to see you again and talk to you and now I am and...and everything you’ve been through. I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t do anything, I’m sorry…” his eyes slid down to Orpheus’ arm, his fingers brushing lightly over where the wounds once were. “You remember all of it,” he added, and it wasn’t a question. “You have to remember all the things that happened. I’m sorry.” He looked up again, his eyes wide as they met Orpheus’ again. “I heard you, too,” he whispered. “I heard you when you didn’t kill me. I heard you when you sang to yourself, and when you tried not to hurt anyone.” He fell silent for a long moment, letting the feeling of pressing close to Orpheus fill him and overflow. “How did you escape?” He added finally, barely daring to ask the question. “You said you couldn’t fight the House. How did you manage to get away?”
Orpheus pulled L just a tiny bit closer, even though it felt like there was no way for them to even get closer. He didn’t care. He wanted to hold L, and he wanted to keep him safe, even though he knew he couldn’t do that. He couldn’t get rid of the House’s influence in his head, and he knew that if it wanted to mess with him again… well, he couldn’t exactly stop it. But he didn’t want to think about that now, not when L was so close and there was no reason to be afraid. Not when he remembered, not when he could hold him like he did before. His gaze flicked down towards his arm, goosebumps raising just a little where L’s fingers had brushed. “I remember,” he confirmed, staring at his arm for a moment instead of looking back up at L. “You shouldn’t apologize for that, it’s… it’s my decision that got us here.” He breathed out, finally letting his eyes rest on L’s. “It wasn’t your responsibility to stop it, I just… I just wish you hadn’t been hurt. I wish you didn’t have to stay strong through all of it…” Orpheus hesitated, brow furrowing as words built up that he wasn’t sure how to let free. “You have my permission to hate me,” he managed eventually, hating how crude the words sounded. “You can… you can hate me and move on, you can do whatever it takes to make this easier. I’ll never stop loving you, but I… I can’t stop hurting you. I was lucky, when it came to Eurydice. I got to mourn, and you never got to do that. You never got to move on. And I want you to have that option.” Orpheus bit his lip, trying to stop his body from trembling. He was alive, and he remembered. That was what mattered now. “I don’t know,” he whispered eventually, combing his fingers through a tangle in L’s hair. “I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s anything I did. You saw what it looked like when I fought. The most I could manage was a few words here and there… and I’m afraid. I’m afraid this won’t ever happen again.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Apr 23, 2021 16:27:47 GMT -5
L didn’t pull back, didn’t stop himself from being pulled closer, didn’t care if it was possible to get closer as long as somehow, he managed it. He knew Orpheus was right, he knew it wasn’t his mess to clean up, but… “I don’t think I’ve ever much cared whether it’s my responsibility to stop something bad from happening,” he said quietly, eyes flicking up to meet Orpheus’ again. “Besides...this affects me, too. This isn’t a case, this isn’t about who did it, because we know who did it. We know that protecting people means stopping the House, and we can’t do that.” He looked away quickly, before Orpheus could see the next thought in his eyes. You promised to make it even. He’d promised that before they’d had any idea they would even be friends. Before they’d known they’d ever see each other again. Odd, how that might have been their only meeting, two strangers bumping into each other across time...but now wasn’t the time to wonder about fate and missed opportunities. Not when the greatest chance he’d ever taken was sitting on the floor with him, hurting. He didn’t quite meet Orpheus’ eyes for a long moment as he spoke. When he looked up, there was a tiny, almost sad sort of smile on his face. “That surprises me,” he mused softly, “though I suppose it shouldn’t. You can’t...you can’t keep trying to sacrifice yourself.” He was certainly one to talk, but that wasn’t important now. “You’ve fallen in love twice, Orpheus. And never once fallen out of it,” he continued gently, holding his gaze with his own. “You would have fought Hades himself for her, you would have torn the House apart piece by piece for me. You didn’t fight the workers, you didn’t hurt Elpis. Do you see the pattern?” He shook his head. “The point is...three points, I suppose. One is that hating you wouldn’t help, realistically, because hating you itself would be torture. Two is that it’s not possible in the first place. You’re not the only one who’s never going to fall out of love. Three...three is that I wouldn’t even the other two didn’t exist.” He didn’t blink. “You can’t wait for me anymore. So I’ll just have to wait for you instead.” He fell silent as Orpheus spoke, and his expression shifted just a little, but he didn’t flinch. “Hope,” he whispered instead. “There’s still hope.”
“Maybe one day sacrificing myself will be enough to make sure nobody else gets hurt,” Orpheus murmured softly, shaking his head a little bit. “I’m sorry. I don’t… I don’t mean to be throwing myself in the line of danger, but the music doesn’t work on the House. I don’t… I can’t fix it. I try… I do, I still try, but you told me once you didn’t know if anyone could do it. I think… you were right.” Was Orpheus a hypocrite? It seemed he was, asking L to have hope but giving up on it himself. He hadn’t held an instrument in… in far too long. Which meant… “I take it back. If… if the music can’t impact it at all… it would give me one more often. It doesn’t let me play anymore…” his eyes widened a little bit as he let his forehead move to press against L’s. He was interrupting him, though. He didn’t mean to do that, especially when L’s answer mattered as much as it did. He didn’t know how to respond. L was offering something that Orpheus’ heart yearned to take, but he knew it would be selfish to ask it of L. To ask him to wait, to stay… to keep hoping. “When I promised you that I would wait… there were uncertainties, I know… we don’t know if we’re from the same world. We don’t know if my Underworld still exists in your time. We don’t know if I could have made it to the living part of your world. But Λ… what you’re offering… or, I suppose it’s not an offer, is it? You have a life to live. You have people to protect and… and you have Watari, and waiting for me… I could never ask that of you.” Orpheus frowned a little bit, but he didn’t say anything else. He didn’t argue. If L wanted to believe in hope, who was Orpheus to stop him? Orpheus… well, for his part… he believed in hope, at least to some extent. He didn’t have much hope that he’d be free of the House, but he had hope for others. For L, if the House would ever stop torturing him. “Hope,” he murmured after a moment, tasting the word. “For you, I can try. Hope… it’s gotten us this far.”
L shook his head, letting his answers go. He didn’t want to get into a lengthy discussion about whether Orpheus could or couldn’t succeed. He didn’t even want to try and calculate the odds. He’d lost hope. And now...now he was pressed close to Orpheus, trying to remember how to breathe, as if he’d been drowning for however long it had been since Orpheus had died. “I know,” he said quietly, not moving away as Orpheus’ forehead touched his own. “But you told me once that if we were normal lovers, we’d plan a future together. You wanted to come to my world to have that, but really we already did have it. And it wasn’t perfect, I know. The House offered plenty of obstacles. The House made sure it wasn’t all easy, but...we both know that you coming to my world wouldn’t have made everything perfect. That’s just not how life works.” He breathed out. “The point I’m trying to make is...I suppose I’m trying to say I don’t need perfect. I don’t need to be happy all the time, or for bad things to not happen. It’s not easy to wait, I won’t lie, but...but I will. And I won’t stop trying to save you.” He closed his eyes. He didn’t want to believe this was temporary...didn’t want Orpheus to go. So he held on and pretended that would stop it, as if he could fight the House’ influence through sheer force of will. He was almost stubborn enough to believe he could. Almost.
“I don’t know that it’s hope that’s gotten you this far, but it’s certainly tried.” The voice was unfamiliar to L, and maybe even to Orpheus. The person who stepped forward, however, would almost certainly be recognizable to the latter person. Not that nothing had changed since the last time he’d seen them. Their dark brown hair was tied up in a messy ponytail, and instead of their simple black t-shirt and jeans, they were wearing a sleeveless black shirt that showed the freckles dotting their shoulders and soft black pants that made no noise as they walked. And that wasn’t all that had changed about them. There was now a long, jagged scar stretched across their face and countless smaller ones lacing their arms and shoulders and throat. A small smile pulled at their lips at the sight of Orpheus and L together, and they stopped, looking between them.
“I never wanted perfect. I never imagined we could have perfect,” Orpheus murmured, tears beginning to burn at his eyes again. He didn’t care if they fell. “All I wanted was to wake up in the morning with you either next to me or in the other room. All I wanted was to share more meals with you that we know weren’t poisoned. And I know you’ll never be safe, but… but I wanted to not have to rely on the House to tell me if you were okay or not. It wouldn’t have been perfect, but I still wanted it. I still want it.” Orpheus fell silent, letting the feeling of L’s body pressed close to his calm him. They were both alive, both breathing and okay… and it was more than Orpheus had ever expected to have again. He didn’t want to give up hope, but sometimes it was easier to acknowledge that the House was more powerful than him. If someone was going to be able to break his chains… it wouldn’t be him. And then he heard a voice behind him and tensed, relief washing over him moments later as the voice processed, connecting itself to memories of someone who had always sounded a good deal less confident than that. “Elpis,” he murmured, extricating himself from L just enough to see his friend. He took a moment to wipe his tears away, then let a smile cross his face as he looked at them. The scars were new, but not entirely unexpected. He had an idea now of what the House had put them through… to come through with no scars… well, it didn’t seem likely. “How are you here?” he asked, brow furrowing. “I mean… it’s lovely to see you again, but… it seems unlike the House to let me be me again and get to see you and L at the same time. Or even separately.” He considered that for a moment, not pulling any further away from L. If he had time later, he would give Elpis a hug. Until then he didn’t want to leave L’s side. “Are you enjoying getting to live?”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Apr 24, 2021 13:43:16 GMT -5
L shifted closer, nodding a little as Orpheus spoke. He was right, of course. They’d had plans, they’d wanted to try to have that, and now… But he didn’t get a chance to reply, before a voice interrupted them and he started tensing and getting ready to defend Orpheus if need be. He didn’t recognize the person who blinked in, but… “Elpis,” he murmured, blinking a little as Orpheus spoke. He’s only just heard of them, but he’d already gotten a lot of information about them, just from what Orpheus had said. He didn’t speak, but he did shift a little closer, eyeing them. They maybe have been Orpheus’ friend, but he didn’t understand how they were here, which was suspicious to say the least...they might have been an illusion, he knew, a trick. He didn’t want to get up, though. Not yet. And...it was possible this was really Elpis, right? He just had to consider all options. Including the idea that Elpis had never really gone free at all. The House was more than capable of lies, after all, it had proven that many, many times before.
Elpis dipped their head, acknowledging the other two as they looked up. So much had happened since they’d last spoken with Orpheus...and he’d never spoken with L before, though they’d seen him. They’d seen so many things now, including the things the House had put Orpheus through. Though it wasn’t happening to them anymore, it still hurt that it was happening at all, especially to someone who had only done this for them in the first place. If they’d never met, Orpheus would probably be haunting L by now. Of course...Elpis would be dying for the millionth time in a room where no one knew their name because they didn’t have one if they’d never met. And in spite of everything, they couldn’t say they’d undo what had happened, even if they somehow could. Was that selfish? Probably, but...but they’d tasted freedom now. They hadn’t realized how much they’d craved it, before. “It’s been good,” they replied, coming over to sit on the couch so they could see Orpheus better. They weren’t ignoring L so much as focusing on their friend. “Living is...well, it’s more than I imagined. It’s experiencing everything, it’s seeing wonders and actually remembering them, it’s...it’s freedom. I don’t know how anyone can take it for granted, but then, that probably says more about my past than anything else.” They hesitated. They weren’t stalling...exactly...but then, they didn’t know how he was going to take this next part. After everything the House has done…. “I didn’t go to a world, when it freed me,” they continued, clasping their hands in front of them. “I mean…I guess maybe I did? But I don’t know if it counts. I was right, before, when we first met. I’m not human. I don’t exactly know what I am, but…” They lifted a hand, looking at it. “I think...I’m whatever the House is. I can do things, things only it can. I blinked myself here, for example.”
Orpheus squeezed L’s hand, feeling the tension and uncertainty in the way the detective shifted closer. He knew why he was nervous. Not only was Elpis an unknown, but they shouldn’t have had a way to be there. Orpheus wasn’t too concerned. If the House impacted anything, it would be Orpheus. And he had complete faith that L and Elpis would be able to do something to neutralize him before anyone could get hurt. Elpis was his friend. He hadn’t been lying when he had told him he loved them, in that moment. He still did, though he hadn’t seen them in a while. After all… the only way to justify what he was going through was that Elpis wouldn’t need to go through it anymore. “Good,” Orpheus murmured, and he meant it. “Living… well, living is something special. If there’s one thing the House is good at, it’s making people more aware of how lucky they are to be alive.” It had certainly taught Orpheus that, though he’d never died in the House before he’d died in his world. That thought… hurt. The reminder that he was technically dead. It was probably a good thing that he didn’t want to go back to his world, because there was nothing there for him anymore. Just death. And Hades. He pushed the thought away, not wanting to sour the moment. “You look… this may sound silly to say, but you look more like a person. Like you’ve had a chance to grow and become one. I’m… I’m proud of you.” Did that matter? Those words, coming from someone who was little more than a ghost? They were true, of course – Orpheus was happy that Elpis had gotten a chance to be free and proud of them for taking hold of life and living it to the best of their abilities. Still, Orpheus was uncertain if that was something Elpis was even open to hearing. And then it didn’t matter anymore, because Orpheus was far more focused on the other part of what Elpis had to say. He took in a deep breath, searching their eyes as he tried to find the right response to that. Truthfully, he didn’t believe the House was evil in spite of everything it had done to him. Therefore, he didn’t think that the powers it had were inherently evil. “You know it doesn’t matter to me whether you’re human or not, right?” Orpheus murmured, holding their gaze. “I mean by technicalities, I’m not human either. You’re still a person, and… I think that’s what matters.” He managed a smile, letting himself relax a bit more against L. He fell silent for a few moment, then met Elpis’ gaze. “I’m here because of you, aren’t I? I mean… myself, in this room. With L.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Apr 24, 2021 15:54:52 GMT -5
L listened quietly, not interrupting as the newcomer spoke to Orpheus. He didn’t really mind that he was being passed over, he too preferred to stick with the people he knew. That wasn’t why he tensed as they spoke, his eyes narrowing just a little. He wasn’t going to judge them right away, he knew better than to make assumptions, but...well. If they were what they said they were, they were more of a potential threat than he’d thought. Another House...could anyone blame him if he wanted to step between them and Orpheus? He wasn’t trying to assume, he was just very aware of how badly this could go if Elpis wasn’t happy. If they felt like they were threatened at all, L and Orpheus could be dead before they could blink. But he didn’t move. For one, being physically in between them would do nothing to stop them from attacking. And also he was aware that acting aggressively or even defensively could start something that didn’t have to happen. Besides...Orpheus seemed to trust them, and if this was really them, they’d saved his life at the cost of their own. It seemed a bit rude to assume the worst of them.
Elpis gave a real smile at that, their green eyes widening a little. “Thanks, Orpheus. That means a lot coming from you,” they murmured back, relaxing a little. They’d expected him to take it pretty well, but...there was still the fact that they were only free because Orpheus wasn’t. They didn’t want that to get between them, but they could understand if it did. Even if it hadn’t been their idea, even if they’d tried to talk him out of it at the time. Even if they were grateful for it, a gift they’d never expected to be given. They’d been to so many places since they’d last talked to Orpheus. They’d traveled through worlds, watched times end and begin, seen death and life and love and hate in equal quantities...they knew more now than they’d ever hoped to, and still, questions burned inside them, questions they didn’t know how to answer. They were still searching for meaning, for the why, the how, they still didn’t know their own strength...it was hard to find ways to test what they could do safely. Besides that...they knew what Orpheus would think if they started using people as test subjects. They’d been on the other side of that. They weren’t eager to start doling it out, and the very last thing ever wanted was to become the House all over again. It had hurt them, badly. If was hurting Orpheus now. They told the self that it was okay to be what they were, as long as they were careful. They didn’t know if it was true, but they hoped it was. They nodded a little, looking down as Orpheus spoke. “I know,” they agreed, not quite meeting L’s eyes. They could tell he was nervous, and they couldn’t exactly blame him after everything he’d suffered at the House’ hands. “I remember what you told me. About how being a person is more about who you are than what you are. And I’ve tried to live like a person, so far. I’ve tried to live a life that’s worth the sacrifice you made.”
Orpheus tapped lightly on the back of L’s hand, offering him what reassurance he could. He had no guarantee that Elpis wouldn’t hurt them, but… if they were going to, they would have done it already. Orpheus was pretty confident about that. They hadn’t had to take him from the House’s grip, they hadn’t needed to bring L here so they could see each other for the first time in… in however long. Orpheus would have to ask Elpis if they knew how long it had been since the House had taken Orpheus. If they knew how long they had been free. Looking at Elpis… well, they had gotten everything that Orpheus had wanted for them. What they decided to do with it was their choice, and their choice alone. But the fact that they were here, wherever here was… it was important to Orpheus. That they were taking time out of their freedom to make Orpheus’ sentence just a little bit lighter. Nobody had ever done it for them. Orpheus had tried, searching for them as much as he could, but… he wasn’t powerful enough to make any tangible difference. “Your life is yours to live,” Orpheus replied quietly, giving Elpis a genuine smile. “It’s up to you what you do with it… but I’m really glad that you’re doing your best. As long as you’re living it in a way that’s satisfying to you…” he trailed off, glancing at L. If he didn’t get to have the future he wanted, then at least Elpis would be able to. That was worth it to Orpheus. “It was a sacrifice,” he added quietly, “But I got to live my life. The House didn’t change when I died. I’m glad that you get a life, too, to do with what you want.” He was silent for a long moment, letting his hand drift down from where it was still tangled lightly in L’s hair. He didn’t want to increase the distance between them, but Orpheus wasn’t sure how comfortable L was with showing such close contact around a stranger. A stranger that, in L’s opinion, could very easily turn dangerous. Orpheus didn’t have to agree in order to understand where L was coming from. “Elpis,” Orpheus said after a long moment, lifting his gaze to meet theirs. “This… isn’t the House, is it? Where we are? This is… yours.” It wasn’t really a question, though Orpheus was trying to wrap his head around it. “Do you know how long we have before the House comes to take me back?” He hated to ask, but… but he knew Elpis hadn’t gotten him free entirely. He knew he was still chained, he just… wanted to know how much freedom he had left.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Apr 24, 2021 17:56:31 GMT -5
L didn’t look down at his hand as Orpheus tapped it, though he relaxed a little, pulling his mind back from the worst case scenarios it so often leapt to. It was possible, yes, but it was far from certain, and Orpheus’ opinion certainly counted. He had done this for them, after all...sacrificed so much so they could live. Their futures were gone because of Elpis, even if they’d never meant for it to happen, even if L didn’t blame them for it. He couldn’t hold it against them, not when they’d never asked Orpheus for this. Not when they seemed to be his friend. It was just hard to deal with everything at the same time. Hard to handle talking to Orpheus again and knowing how temporary it was, hard to talk to the person who he’d given up everything for. It had been a choice, even if it had been an impossible one. And he couldn’t say for sure what he would have done in Orpheus’ place, only that, as usual, he probably would never have ended up where he’d stood. He blinked a little as Orpheus continued, and looked around again, searching for the details he’d been too distracted to notice. Yes...there was no hallway, but the room itself wasn’t quite as cleanly made, there were less details, the place almost looked smudged and blurry. The walls had less texture, the carpet wasn’t quite as soft and real. This was made by an amateur, he realized, not a pro. He wasn’t too worried about showing he and Orpheus were close. Elpis would be perfectly aware of that already, having sacrificed themself for him once, having seen their reunion just now. It was unavoidable.
Elpis blinked a little, and nodded, though they couldn’t help the small flash of confusion in their eyes as he spoke. “Mine…” they murmured, studying their scarred hands. “I know. It my life, but I feel like no matter how many answers I find, there are only more questions waiting for me. I know it’s my decision, what I do, but you believe the House is wrong sometimes, right? I guess...I’m just not sure how to tell what that is. How I should live. So I’m trying to follow your example, and live a life you can be proud of.” They didn’t say they were trying to figure out how to avoid becoming a second House, but they were thinking it. It was true...they didn’t know how to avoid falling into the same path that it had taken. If Orpheus was to be believed (and they knew he was) then the House wasn’t evil after all, which...should have been comforting, but truthfully, it scared them a little. It meant that avoiding becoming what it was would be harder than simply avoiding being outright evil. It meant that the House, too, was complicated, and they had that in common. They had a great deal in common, it seemed. “Yes, I know you did, you lived your life, but you had plans for your death, too.” They glanced at L, meeting his eyes for a split second before they looked away again. “I know you were going to haunt L. You...might have had eternity with him, and now, you have eternity here. And when he dies eventually, he’ll stop blinking in probably, and then you’ll be alone.” They looked up, meeting his eyes again. “I’m sorry,” they added quickly. “I don’t want to sound ungrateful for what you did for me...it’s truly incredible, life. I just wish it hadn’t cost so much.” They let the moment pass, then looked at him as he spoke again, nodding just a little. “Yes,” they confirmed, gesturing at the room around them. “This is mine, you’re not in the House. I’m sorry it’s not more creative. It’s a little like learning to draw...you start by copying what you already have. I could make it look like another room, if you’d prefer.” They looked away again, letting their hand drop. “You’re not free, no,” they added quietly. “This is the best I could get from the House. It’s a bit possessive of you. I think I made it mad, but here we are, so I guess it’s worth it. As for how long, I’m not sure exactly. Not long enough, most likely.”
Orpheus hadn’t taken much time to notice the details, it was just that… well, where they were now felt different than the House did. It was warmer, almost, in a comfortable way. Like he could tell it was made by a friend rather than a captor. Or maybe that was just wishful thinking. He shook the thought away, pulling L just a little bit closer as he searched Elpis’ expression. They really cared. That was what made Orpheus certain that they wouldn’t end up like the House. The thing about the House was that it was probably capable of caring, but it showed no remorse about whether its actions hurt people. It didn’t try not to. It wasn’t trying, not like Elpis was. Maybe because it had never been through what Elpis had. Orpheus didn’t know for certain, but… well, he thought that if the House had been through anything like what Elpis had, it would probably be much kinder. “You should be proud of yourself,” Orpheus murmured, his smile growing even more genuine. “You’re trying to be the best person you can be, and… and that’s hard. That’s so hard. Most people don’t even try, and the fact that you are… that makes me proud.” He fell silent for a moment, glancing at L. He didn’t know what L would think about this. He didn’t know how L would react to Elpis at all, actually. He supposed he had unintentionally set them up to hate each other. Elpis had stolen the future Orpheus had planned with L, and L had taken Elpis’ first shot at freedom. Both of those situations had been Orpheus’ fault, but… well, he hoped that if they were going to blame anyone, they would both blame him. It had been an impossible situation. And sa much as he mourned the loss of a future, he wouldn’t change what he had done. “I wish the price had been lower as well,” he admitted, shaking his head just a little bit. “But… well, there’s always hope, even if the House has no plans to let me go.” Orpheus didn’t know how true that was, but L wanted him to have hope, and if there was one thing he was good at doing, it was clinging onto hope even when there was no realistic way out of a situation. That was how he had come close to saving Eurydice, after all. It was how he had brought back spring. “I’m not in a position to persuade the House of anything,” he admitted after a moment, shaking his head. “It… well, it probably sees me as some sort of prize. But if I can even get a few moments away, that’s a bit of a victory, isn’t it?” He glanced at Elpis, biting his lip for a long moment. “I don’t know how dangerous it is for you to bring me here. I don’t know if the House may retaliate. But… if it’s safe… I’d be happy to propose a deal. If you give me a few mometns to breathe away from the House, I can help you figure out how to live your life in a way that makes you proud. That’s what matters in the end, not what I think.” He didn’t mention yet that he wanted a few moments with L, when he could get them, but… he figured Elpis would understand, if they agreed to the proposed deal. “I don’t want to put you in danger,” he added quietly, unsure if that had come across how he wanted it to. “You may be powerful, but if it came to a fight over me… the House has had more time and practice. It could probably hurt you pretty badly, and that’s… that’s the last thing I want.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Apr 24, 2021 20:51:39 GMT -5
L didn’t hate Elpis, though he could tell it was possible to do. If he let himself be too selfish, if he didn’t take their side of it into consideration? He could hate them, blame them for Orpheus’ loss, ask them to reverse the deal, even. He didn’t know if it was possible to do that. He wasn’t going to ask, not even the House. Not even if it would bring Orpheus back. He’d thought about it, of course he had, but he knew Orpheus didn’t want that, and he knew doing it would only be disrespecting Orpheus’ choices. He’d done this. If he didn’t want to undo it, L wouldn’t allow himself to try. That didn’t mean he couldn’t think of other ways or rescue him, though. He thought...he thought there had to be a way, somehow. Maybe it was Orpheus rubbing off on him, but he didn’t want to give up even now. Maybe it wasn’t possible. But even if it wasn’t, he wouldn’t regret the time he’d spent trying, He listened quietly as Orpheus proposed his deal. It sounded...possible, even if he wasn’t sure how much freedom they could give him. Anything eas better than nothing at all, though. Another thought occurred to him, too. He didn’t move away from Orpheus as he considered it, then decided it couldn’t hurt to say it out loud, since the House was likely monitoring the situation anyway. “Is it possible for you to free him?” He asked, quietly, narrowing his eyes at them. “If you can do this. You can set him free for this amount of time. Can you break the hold the House has permanently?” He kept it as hypothetical as he could. He didn’t want to get Orpheus’ hopes up for nothing, or suggest they do something he didn’t know if they could. But he had to ask, didn’t he?
Elpis nodded a little, giving a tiny smile at that. Being proud of themself didn’t come naturally, but they could try it, for Orpheus. “I’m glad,” they replied, dipping their head a little as he continued. “I don’t think the House has any plans to let you go, no. I can’t read its mind, but I think it sees you more as a favorite toy than a prize. But you’re right, this is something, and it’s more than I expected to be able to do at first. I thought I couldn’t change anything for a while, but then I found ways to make things happen and I started trying, and...but that’s not important now. What matters is that it worked.” They looked up. Orpheus and L were very close, they noted, though they weren’t really surprised. It hadn’t taken more than a couple, seconds for L to run to Orpheus, even though he’d just found out what had happened. They’d worried he’d be mad, but apparently he was okay with how it had gone, or at least okay with Orpheus’ part in it. They still didn’t totally understand emotions, and how they worked, but they were trying to learn about love and anger and the rest of them, and they were finding answers, slowly. There were a lot of people to observe and books to read and things to do, outside the House’ walls. They pulled their attention back to Orpheus. They didn’t know how long they had here...it wouldn’t do to get lost in thought. “I think I’d like that,” they answered a little bit shyly. “I don’t know if it counts as a deal, really, since I’m not losing anything by giving you breaks from the House. Unless it does retaliate, but...but I want to. You took risks for me, after all.” They glanced at L, blinking a little as he spoke. “I...no, I don’t think so. Maybe?” They answered cautiously. “I don’t know. I don’t think I can, right now at least, but I’m not used to being what I am yet.” Even if they could...they knew for a fact the House would retaliate against that. They looked back at Orpheus, hesitating a long moment before they continued. “I’d like to help you. Like you helped me. I risked going out of existence for you, once. For L. I’m willing to take risks to help you now.”
Orpheus wasn’t sure how feasible his deal was. He didn’t know what Elpis could do beyond what they had told him, and as far as he was aware the House had no limits on its power. If that was the case… then Elpis likely had no limits either, other than a complete lack of experience. And a moral code. It was possible the House had one of those, but if it did… Orpheus had no proof of it other than the fact that nobody ever died permanently. At least… nobody had ever died permanently since Orpheus had started blinking in. That felt like a very long time ago, though he knew it was only a matter of years. Or more… it was hard to tell how long had passed since he had died. He tried to push the thought away, instead focusing solely on Elpis. It was easier to sound brave when L was there. It was easier to look Elpis in the eye and ask for the impossible. Especially since L seemed okay with making it more impossible. He glanced over, eyes wide as L proposed Elpis trying to get him out, for good. Orpheus had made a deal with the House, and he didn’t think anything would convince it to back out of the deal. Maybe he was just being pessimistic, though. He turned his gaze back towards Elpis, anxiously awaiting their answer. “It’s a deal, then,” he murmured, squeezing L’s hand as something like relief ran through him. He didn’t mind the idea of helping Elpis, especially if it meant getting to see L every once in a while. Getting to see him with hope still burning in his eyes, because as long as Orpheus was still there… as long as he could still remember once in a while, as long as he could do everything in his power to make up for the things he did when he wasn’t himself… then there was cause for hope. “I can help you get used to what you are,” Orpheus offered, glancing over at L for a long moment before focusing his attention on Elpis. “I won’t… I won’t force you to try to fight the House for me. You can, if you want to… I mean, I won’t stop you, but… if you want to try to get used to what you are where you can’t hurt anyone, I’m here.” He wasn’t yet sure exactly what that entailed, but he trusted Elpis. He trusted them, and he was also willing to do almost anything so long as it gave him the chance to go home. “You’re a good person, Elpis,” Orpheus murmured, a smile touching his lips. “Helping me might be dangerous. And if it gets too dangerous, we should… discuss how to adjust our deal, but… but we can help each other. You’re my friend, and that’s what friends do.” He knew it was a bad idea to get his hopes up about getting free. He knew it was unlikely that Elpis could ever beat the House, given how long the House had been practicing and how ruthless it could be. But having someone to fight on his side… he knew that L had tried as hard as he could to fight for him, but… Elpis could do things that Orpheus and L couldn’t even dream of. If anyone had a shot at helping Orpheus and L fight the House… it was Elpis. As long as they were willing.
Elpis hadn’t expected this, but now that they were close to having it, they didn’t want to let it go. Orpheus, helping them learn? Orpheus, giving them the chance to understand what they were, exactly? What they could do? It was better than they could have imagined, and it hadn’t even been their idea. Of course...they understood that he was still trapped. And they wanted to help. But they could be excited about this even so, couldn’t they? They glanced at L, though they didn’t give him nearly as much attention as Orpheus got. It wasn’t exactly personal...it might be a little personal, but not much...there was an edge of it being personal. But it wasn’t only that. It was that Orpheus was a friend, and L wasn’t. Orpheus had saved their life, and L...well, they could tell they’d worked things out, and Orpheus loved L. So they were trying hard to give him the benefit of the doubt. They nodded a little as he spoke, eager. “I will fight the House for you,” they promised, dipping their head to him. “I’ll free you, like you freed me. I promise.” They hadn’t ever broken a promise before. They didn’t plan to start now, especially not to their friend, who’d never broken a promise to them, either. They knew it might be dangerous...they knew firsthand what the House was capable of. They’d been through it longer than most things had even existed, nearly as long as the House itself had been around. It was odd, how they were ancient, and they still felt like a little kid sometimes, with too many questions. But they were going or her some of those questions answered, now. And they were dying to start. They glanced at L, and he disappeared, back to his own world. Then they looked at Orpheus and offered a small smile. They’d assumed he meant right now, since the6 were already here and hidden from the House.
L couldn’t help asking, even if he didn’t really know what he was asking for. He didn’t know what it would take, freeing Orpheus from the House, and he didn’t know what Elpis needed to be able to even try, but he couldn’t help being worried. He didn’t know Elpis, and technically speaking, neither did Orpheus, much. They hadn’t shown up again until now...why? What had made them decide to come back? He didn’t like it, or them just yet. Maybe he was just too tired of Orpheus being hurt to want to accept any more risks just now. It wasn’t his call. He knew that. But...but he needed to protect Orpheus, as much as he could. And if he could do that by stopping this… But it wouldn’t help Orpheus get free to stop it now, he knew. And if he was okay with it and it meant getting out of this? Was there anything L could say against it even if he wanted to? But he did want to know more first. It seemed only reasonable to know what they were getting themselves into, and Orpheus was desperate, too desperate to say no. Not that L wasn’t also desperate. But it was different. “I would still like to know more about what - “ But he was cut off as he disappeared back to his own world.
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Dark Sun: Great StarClan I hate hangnails...
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Dark Sun: I had just gotten cozy in bed and it forced me to walk all the way upstairs just to trim it off, and then back down again.
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✿𝔇𝙖𝙬𝙣𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙧✿: i hate hangnails
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✿𝔇𝙖𝙬𝙣𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙧✿: One time I had one and it pealed off some skin
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✿𝔇𝙖𝙬𝙣𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙧✿: IT HURT SO BAD
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