“That’s a big promise to make, Elpis,” Orpheus warned quietly, though he knew he didn’t really have the right to criticize it. He had made his own series of impossible promises, and they all still haunted him. He just… he hadn’t thought that a life with L was an impossible promise. He’d put L through so much, he had hurt him more times than he could even count, and if this meant that he would be able to have some sort of future with L, free from the House… yes, he would give just about anything for that. He could see why L wanted to be cautious, though. What he had offered Elpis was a dangerous thing, and no matter how much he trusted them… knowing what they were changed things, a little bit. It made them more dangerous, and it meant that they had a chance of becoming like the House if they weren’t careful to keep caring. To keep seeing human beings as people… as friends, rather than pawns. Could he do that for Elpis? What if he had just created something else like the House, a trap for countless more people who never asked for anything like that? But he believed in Elpis. He believed that they wouldn’t be like that. That they didn’t want to be like that. And then L was gone and loss stabbed through Orpheus, as hot and biting as it had been… well, every time he looked at him when he remembered. He wanted L back, wanted a few more minutes to sit with him and hold him close and believe that somehow things would work out. “L was right,” he managed softly, lifting his gaze to meet Elpis’. “There are things we should talk about, first. And I want your promise that I’ll get to see L sometimes, like this. I need him to have something to hold onto while the House uses me as a weapon against him.” That was the only condition he could think of for the moment. There were boundaries they needed to put in place, but they could cross that bridge when they got to it. For now, Orpheus was happy to help. He just wasn’t sure yet exactly what help was going to mean.
Elpis watched him, their eyes wide as he spoke. And...he was right, too. It was a huge promise to make, when they couldn’t even guarantee they were as strong as it was. It had been practicing a lot longer than they’d even been aware they existed. It was strong, and confident, and capable and what was Elpis? Barely sure of anything at all. Barely even sure they were really what they House was, even if they couldn’t imagine what else they might be. They were dangerous. They knew they had power, incredible power. If they were indeed what the House was, the worlds were at their fingertips, the people living in them at their mercy. And they were curious. They wanted more than anything to learn. But they didn’t want to hurt anyone. They felt no urge to harm people, even being capable of it. They still remembered being powerless. They remembered every death, every scar they’d been given, and they meant what they’d said when they first met Orpheus. The House seemed cruel to them, the rooms unfair. Being curious and wanting to cause pain we’re the same thing...right? They didn’t imagine they could ever become like the House, either way. They had questions. The House seemed to know everything already. They met his gaze, nodding just a little. “I mean it. I promise,” they replied earnestly, moving forewarn a little now that L was gone. “I can do it, I know I can. And I won’t just leave you here...I can’t do that. It wouldn’t be fair.” They listened, then nodded again. “Okay. What do we need to talk about? And I think I can make that work. This is the first time, so I don’t know what the House is going to do, but I think it’s okay, and it’s no more dangerous to take L than it is to take you.” They didn’t know what other things they would need to talk about, but they were going to listen anyway. Orpheus was their friend.
“I believe you,” Orpheus murmured, and he was surprised to find that it was true. How long had it been since he had let himself hope? It wasn’t that he had decided to abandon it, it was just… he was so tired of being at the House’s mercy day in and day out, he was so tired of having no free will, no chance to be anything but what the House wanted him to be. Believing that there was a chance at freedom hurt. He had known that this was the fate he had subjected himself to for eternity. He didn’t even know how long had passed, but he had the sneaking suspicion that it was longer than he could guess. He filtered through some of his memories, brow furrowing at the seemingly never-ending chain of them. Had he been the House’s for longer than he had lived? It was hard to tell. L still looked the same, but time passed differently in the House than it did in worlds. Orpheus had no way of knowing how old he was now, how many years he had been alive. “You’re a good person,” he said again, shaking his head just a little bit. “And I believe the name I gave you is accurate. It’s just… been a very long time since I had any hope at all.” He didn’t know if Elpis knew exactly how long it had been, but he didn’t want to ask them. There were more important things, things that Orpheus wanted to get straight before the House pulled him back. “I don’t know how to help you,” he said after a moment, hazel eyes searching green. “I mean… if you need help with morals and things like that, or if you have questions that I can answer, but… I don’t know how you wanted me to help you otherwise. And I’ll do anything I can to help, you just… have to tell me what it is.”
Elpis couldn’t help the bright smile on their face at that. They knew Orpheus had believed in them before, but it had been a long time since then, if time would be considered a constant. Which, as Elpis knew, it couldn’t. Being what they were...their sense of time wasn’t dependent on the worlds. They knew that, for the people who lived there, that was all time was, but for them...well. It was one more thing that set them apart. One more thing they didn’t understand, but wanted to. “I’ll do my best to live up to my name,” they promised. “And bring you hope again.” They didn’t think of try to tell him how long it had been. Truthfully, they didn’t know for sure. They still hadn’t quite figured out how to tell, especially when they were walking between worlds and experiencing time as they did. They thought for a long moment. Really...they didn’t know what they needed. They were enjoying freedom, they hadn’t lied about that, but it was also a lot more than they’d anticipated, and they were a little bit lost. “I guess I know almost nothing.” They admitted. “Morals don’t make much sense to me. I don’t know what I’m capable of, how much power I have...I want to know everything I can. And learning will help me understand how to free you, too.” They thought a moment longer. “So...I guess everything. I want answers.”
Orpheus nodded. He hadn’t intended to unleash a being with unimaginable power into the universe, but he had, and he found he didn’t want to take it back. Elpis deserved to be free. Every person the House kept under its thumb deserved to be free… which was probably why Orpheus hadn’t actually met any more of them. The House knew what he was capable of. He may not have been capable of fighting it alone, but if he managed to get all of the other people the House controlled together… yes, he thought they could probably push back the House and demand their freedom. He didn’t know how many there were, but he had met several when he was alive. He had no doubt there were more than just the few he had met. Elpis may have been the first that they had actually talked to, but what about all of those rooms where there were just people to cerate ambiance? How many of those were real people? How many times had Orpheus walked past Elpis without knowing who they were? He pushed the thought away. It wasn’t relevant here. “I can’t promise to be an expert on morals,” Orpheus replied quietly, “but I’ll do my best. As for your powers… I don’t… I don’t know how to help you learn about those. Unless…” he paled for a minute, almost wishing L were still there to squeeze his hand and let him know without even speaking that he needed to push the thought down and consider it when he had more time to think. But he didn’t know if he was ever going to have more time. “I can help you practice your powers,” he murmured, searching Elpis’ gaze. “As long as you stop if I ask you to… if you don’t know how to use them well yet… then it’s probably better you practice with someone you know, not an unwitting, non-consenting participant… right?”
Elpis didn’t know if there were any others like them. Or...with the potential to be like them. They didn’t know whether the House had created more beings, more ‘House People’ as they were often called. Truthfully? They’d been so busy with living that they hadn’t given it much thought at all. There were a million other things to keep them occupied, after all, a million other worlds to walk through and explore. They didn’t know their own strength. They didn’t know how powerful they were. All they knew was that freedom meant questions, and they wanted to explore everything they could and find every answer that existed, even if they all conflicted. “You know more than me. I don’t have any morals,” they offered, smiling a little. “I’ve never needed any. I guess I’m more of a blank slate now than ever before, aren’t I?” It was a rueful thought, but they didn’t mind voicing it. It was also true, they felt more open and blank than ever before, because before the House had dictated what they were. Now...they were whatever they ended up wanting to be. It was terrifying. They loved it. “Are...you sure?” They asked uncertainly, meeting his eyes as he spoke again. “I would like that, if you’re okay with it. I don’t know what I can do...I’d like very much to find out. But I don’t want to hurt you.” Although he was definitely right. They figured if they’d hated being an experiment, they should probably ask first before experimenting on anyone else.
“If you didn’t have any morals, I doubt you would be here right now,” Orpheus replied softly, searching Elpis’ expression. “And I doubt you would be expressing any concern at all about me helping you. The fact that you’re here to help me, and that you aren’t immediately using me as a science project… you don’t even realize that you made a moral decision there, do you?” He had a feeling that Elpis wasn’t as much of a blank slate as they believed themself to be. They had lived through everything the House had put them through, at least, so they probably had a good idea of what didn’t feel very nice. As long as they knew that, they were at a good starting point. Orpheus didn’t think this was going to be too terribly difficult… he had the easy end of the bargain, as far as he was aware. So he was more than willing to make it a bit more fair to Elpis. “I can’t promise that I’ll be okay with everything you try,” Orpheus murmured, searching Elpis’ gaze. “But I’m pretty desperate to get home to L… so if trying things on me will help you learn enough to have a chance at facing the House, then yes. I’d… obviously prefer not to be permanently hurt… and I’d like it if you’re willing to stop if I ask you to, and to respect me as a person instead of just an experiment, but… I don’t think that will be too difficult for you. We’re friends.”
Elpis blinked, tilting their head a little in fascination as he spoke. It didn’t quite make sense to them, but then, they weren’t sure anything really did. They were willing to believe what Orpheus told them, for the most part...oh, they’d question it, but they wouldn’t dismiss it, even if they didn’t understand it. “Does not wanting to hurt people count as morals, if it’s not became I think it’s wrong to hurt people?” They asked curiously. “I don’t like hurting people. At least...I don’t think I do. I haven’t done it. But it sounds...uncomfortable.” They nodded a little, serious as he continued. “Tell me if I go too far, and I promise to stop. And I’ll do my best not to do anything that doesn’t respect you…” they hesitated a moment as they realized they didn’t quite know what that meant. They’d figure it out as they went along, they decided, and stepped forward a little. “I should probably start small,” they said after a moment, head tilted a little. “So I don’t do anything I can’t reverse. And you can back out at any time. I’m not the House, I’ll listen to you. I promise.” They met his eyes. He was their friend, so they probably didn’t need to say that, but they thought they should anyway. If only became what they were doing was a bit like the House, if they thought about it too hard. Which they were trying not to.
“Yes,” Orpheus replied without hesitation. “You don’t have to think something is morally wrong in order to be following morals. It’s not so much a matter of what you think as a matter of what you feel. When you say uncomfortable… that seems to be like you’re using morals even though you don’t realize it.” He gave a small smile, hoping Elpis took heart in that. “When I think about hurting people,” he murmured softly, “I have this uncomfortable knot in the pit of my stomach. Which might not make sense, I don’t know if it’s a human thing, but… it’s there. And it’s my body’s way of telling me that it’s not nice to do something to someone that I wouldn’t want done to myself. That’s… the basics of it. It gets more complicated when it’s not immediately obvious what the right thing to do is, but…” he trailed off, a blush coloring his cheeks as he realized he had been rambling. Looking at Elpis now, knowing what he had just agreed to let them do… he wasn’t afraid. He trusted them, and he wouldn’t take back what he said about loving them. It was the truth. “I believe you,” Orpheus murmured, holding their gaze. “I believe in you, too.” He was silent for a few more moments before he breathed out, catching Elpis’ gaze. “Before… before you start, I think there are probably boundaries that I’m not thinking of right now. I won’t… please let me change those, when they come up. And I promise I won’t be upset with you for crossing boundaries before they’re stated.”
Elpis considered that quietly for a long moment, then nodded. It made sense. They figured they would have to figure out what exactly their morals were, since they had some, but they at least has somewhere to start. If they went off how they felt and not what they thought, it should be easier than they’d anticipated. Feelings were easier to decipher, oftentimes. “You physically feel it?” They repeated, surprised at that. “I don’t feel it like that, I just don’t like it. It’s not a physical feeling. It’s more...like…like I don’t like being lied to, but I don’t feel anything physically. I guess maybe it’s because this isn’t my body the same way yours is yours. It’s just a vessel for me. I could probably change it if I felt like it.” They fell silent a moment, looking at him. “Right...if you think of something, please tell me. I won’t be in your head unless it’s for an experiment, so I won’t know, otherwise,” they replied thoughtfully. “I promise to listen if you tell me something isn’t okay, I don’t have much to go off of, so...I’m sorry in advance if I mess up. Boundaries aren’t permanent. You can make them or change them whenever you want.”
“I have a feeling I physically feel a great deal more than you do,” Orpheus replied, giving a quiet laugh. “It might… be harder to figure out if your body doesn’t give you cues about it, but I know you can do it. I’ll be here to help you, for every step.” He offered Elpis a wide smile, hoping that was enough. Hoping that would give them some comfort, make them feel just a little less alone in an insurmountable task. Orpheus would make sure it wasn’t impossible. “Okay,” he said after a moment, his expression growing a little bit more serious. “I promise I’ll tell you when I want you to stop, or if something isn’t okay. And… and thank you, for keeping out of my head unless it’s necessary.” Orpheus shuddered at the dozens of memories of the House meddling in his head without so much as asking permission. This was different. This was to get him home to L. “You don’t have to apologize for messing up,” he added after a moment, meeting Elpis’ gaze. “I understand. We’re… we’re just trying this out. It might be a little bit rough at first. We’ll just have to get good at communicating about boundaries and all of that.” Orpheus’ smile returned, if a little bit smaller. “I think… if you’d like to try some things now… I’m ready when you are.”
Elpis smiled back, breathing out as they gave a small nod. It was enough. More than enough, actually. Orpheus’ willingness to help them felt...good. Again, not physically, but like being given a gift. Like how they’d felt when Orpheus hugged them, the first time they’d met. They would try their hardest to live up to his expectations, and figure out how to be someone that he’d be proud of. Maybe with his help...they’d even succeed. They gave a serious not as he continued, eyes widening a little. “You shouldn’t have to thank me for that,” they offered. “I think that’s what you were saying before. I’m respecting you as a person, I think...that should go without saying, that’s all.” Then again, what did they know? They nodded as he continued, and excitement lit up their eyes, brightening up as he continued. “I’m ready,” they told him, and took a breath, letting the thrill of it fill them. They could tell him what they were going to try, but...it might be more effective if he didn’t know, right? They closed their eyes, feeling their power pulse through their veins and heart, as central to them as blood. Then they reached out, touching his emotions...first, they tried to make him calm, as calm as they could. They tugged at the emotion, testing its limits and seeing if they could make it grow.
“I think this is going to work,” Orpheus murmured, hazel eyes meeting green. He was confident, even if he knew that L likely wouldn’t approve. It was a risk, he knew it was a risk. He knew that Elpis could hurt him, badly, but he trusted them not to. This wasn’t just… passing himself into the hands of another powerful person who could hurt him. This was him taking a chance on a friend that could result in him actually going home. Orpheus had spent a good portion of his life taking risks, doing the impossible, but this felt less like going out on a limb. This was like climbing a ladder to reach the apple, not desperately clinging to a tree branch that might break. “So… you won’t apologize, and I won’t thank you, and we’ll go from there.” And then Orpheus felt a sharp tug and his eyes widened a little bit as a feeling of intense calm washed over him. He hadn’t been stressed before, but now he couldn’t help but wonder why he had been worried at all. “Ah,” he murmured, his voice steady and his heart rate slowing. “Would you like me to try to push against you, or just… let it happen?” He was pushing, a little bit, but just enough that he wouldn’t completely sink into the feeling. He didn’t want to mess with what Elpis wanted to try, and… it would be easier to just let it overwhelm him. That sounded nice… but what if they wanted something a little bit more realistic? He blinked, steeling himself against the feeling as he waited for Elpis’ answer.
Elpis didn’t know as much about Orpheus as they might have. They hadn’t poked around in his head, after all, even when it was an option. They were still going mostly off what made them uncomfortable to tell when they shouldn’t do something, and that hadn’t been a comfortable thought, so they’d avoided it. It did mean that they didn’t know any of that Orpheus had been through in his own world. It meant they didn’t know how he was going to react, not as much as they might have. They were eager to find out, though. This...this was exciting. They hadn’t had the chance to actually practice on anyone before Orpheus offering was a gift, one they hadn’t expected, but couldn’t help being thrilled about anyway. A surprise, but a good one. They opened their eyes, feeling the slight resistance against their pull. Interesting...so that was how he reacted naturally. In which case if they cut that off first, would he be helpless against them? Was that what the House did? “You can resist,” they said after a moment, and pulled harder against the feeling of calm. “I think it’s more realistic that way, and it’ll learn more if you don’t just...let me.”
“Great,” Orpheus replied, looking up to meet Elpis’ eyes. He was grateful that they had started with something nice. Something… well, easy was the wrong word, but… nothing terribly cruel. He still didn’t know what to expect, but he wasn’t worried about it. There was nothing to be… “Oh,” he murmured, feeling suddenly the way they were pulling harder. They weren’t exactly subtle, but that was probably just because they were starting out. He was distantly aware that his heart was slowing, his brain just accepting that there was nothing to be worried about, that he should just… relax. He blinked again, pushing against the emotion as hard as he could. There were things to worry about. He couldn’t let himself be complacent. The struggle could be seen in his eyes as he tried his best to push away the emotion Elpis was pressing. He was generally a calm person, though. He didn’t worry too much, except… except when he lost Eurydice. The thought was like splashing cold water in his face, and he shoved back against the feeling for long enough to draw a sharp breath.
It wasn’t as easy as they’d imagined, making Orpheus feel something. They’d thought...well, they’d thought that since the House could do it with ease, so could they. But the House had been practicing for a very long time. They hadn’t ever tried this before, was it any wonder that they didn’t know how to do it in a way he wouldn’t notice? Subtlety wasn’t easy. They weren’t really trying too hard to make it hard to tell what they were doing, though...so maybe it would be easier if they put in the effort. They gasped a little as he pushed back, their powers faltering as he defended himself successfully against them. They hesitated, then frowned a little and tried again, this time concentrating on making the feeling expand a little slower. Maybe that was the key to keeping him from fighting against it quite all successfully. They kept their eyes open, though they were narrowed and determined now. It eas only their first try, true.but they didn’t want to fail it, no...they couldn’t fail it. Slowly. Maybe if they didn’t make it as obvious he’d have a harder time...there was the small problem that they didn’t know how he was able to tell, but they’d figure it out.
Orpheus blinked, watching Elpis carefully as the feeling eased off, just a bit. He was about to comment about how they shouldn’t give up on it yet when he felt it sneaking back in, not so much a full attack as… as rain, dripping slowly through a crack in a door. You could seal the crack, if you could find it. Orpheus pressed lightly against it, but he had very little motivation to. Why would he want to disturb this? This was nice, peaceful. The side effect of feeling calm was that it felt like there was nothing to fight against. No reason to push back. Everything was okay. His thoughts felt completely clear, even though they weren’t quite his, even though they were pushed around by Elpis. Or… no, not thoughts. Just feelings. And there was no harm in that. He glanced at Elpis, expression perfectly placid. He didn’t want to push back, not anymore. Elpis was a friend. “You’re doing very well,” Orpheus told Elpis, his smile wide. He meant the words, truly. Although it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what was different… it was different. Which meant Elpis had done is successfully.
Elpis smiled a little to themself as Orpheus relaxed into the feeling, their plan of making it slower working almost flawlessly. Orpheus wasn’t pushing anymore, not really...had they succeeded then? They noted what they’d learned from it. Humans tend to relax into feeling calm (was that because it felt good or just because of how calm worked?) and they responded better to a slow attack than a full on one. Maybe it was more realistic when it didn’t come on too strong. Their best guess was that Orpheus could tell it wasn’t him when it was too abrupt. “Thanks,” they breathed, keeping the emotions in place. It was working...their first try had been a success. But they weren’t going to celebrate it just yet. They were curious how a dramatic change would affect him, one he didn’t see coming. Without giving it another thought, they slammed anger into him as hard as they could, tugging at the feeling and trying to make it as hot and wild as they knew it could be at times.
Orpheus was getting to comfortable with the calm feeling. That probably should have been self-explanatory, but he wasn’t looking at things like that. He was just… relaxing. Holding onto the feeling like letting it go would be a crime. He almost let his eyes close, but he figured Elpis probably wouldn’t want that. This didn’t feel like an experiment. He couldn’t help but wonder if they had really started yet or whether he had imagined it when the good feeling was gone and his vision went red. He hissed, staggering back a few feet as the emotion slammed into him, hard and burning and more like a wildfire than anything else. He could feel it burning at the rational parts of his mind, the parts that thought there were two sides to any argument. But it wasn’t him. It was powerful, but it wasn’t him. Orpheus gasped, squeezing his eyes shut as though that would make some sort of difference. It didn’t. He pushed against the anger, trying to form his thoughts into words. “You chose an interesting one to try,” he managed through clenched teeth. “I don’t feel anger easily. It takes… it takes a lot to break me, at least when it comes to anger.” He considered for a long moment, then spoke again, much more quietly. “Maybe… try to direct it.”
Elpis watched, curious as he staggered under the weight of the feeling. They couldn’t help the glow of satisfaction as what they intended to happen actually happened, and they didn’t try. Why should they? They didn’t see any reason why enjoying their abilities would hurt Orpheus. Anger was an interesting one. It burned fiercer and brighter than the other emotions, they thought, it was a weapon, and it could be controlled. They’d seen anger before, in others, but holding it in their hands, controlling it...it was fascinating. They turned it over in their mind, eyes fixed on Orpheus’ face as they scanned for any reactions they’d missed. Direct it. Right...they hesitated, then began to shift the emotion, pulling it and connecting it to themself for lack of a better object. They didn’t know what sort of effect that might have, but they were interested to find out if his suggestion actually made it harder to fight off.
Orpheus’ attempts to fend off the anger were perhaps more desperate than his earlier attempts to fight against the calm. He didn’t want to be angry. Angry was… well, it didn’t make sense with who he was, he didn’t often feel it. When he did, it burned hot and sharp until reason caught up just moments later, tempering it and turning it into something he could actually use. He wrote songs when he was angry, and the moment he played the first note… well, there was something he could do about the anger, about whatever was making him angry, and it dissipated. It wasn’t dissipating now, but he knew it wasn’t his. That made it easier to ward off. Human minds were, however, weaker than the power Elpis was using. He could still feel the anger, even as he refused to react to it. He felt it pressing in on him, pulling and shifting and… he gasped, gaze snapping up to meet Elpis’ as they took his suggestion. He squeezed his eyes shut, hands pressed against the side of his head. No. It didn’t matter if this was just training, just an experiment… he would not be angry with Elpis. He wouldn’t be angry at all.
Elpis could tell he was fighting harder this time. They could tell he wasn’t as at ease with anger as he had been with calmness...which made sense, they supposed. Anger wasn’t negative in itself, but it was often seen that way, so perhaps he was just avoiding what he perceived to be a negative emotion. They felt around the resistance, trying to tell where it was coming from. It was subtle, hard to detect precisely where the source was, and they narrowed their eyes, focusing harder. They didn’t let up on the anger they were pouring into him...or rather, igniting. It was already there, really, they were just...pulling on it. It was more yanking it to the surface than anything. They hesitated, trying to think of a way to get around the resistance he was giving them. His mind was powerful, probably more powerful than he realized, and even a being such as themself struggled to fight it completely, at least not without practice. It seemed the House itself had no such difficulties Direct it. That was what he’d said. “You hate me,” they murmured, voice soft and firm at once. “You blame me for all the pain you’ve gone through, all the things you’ve put L through.” They tugged at his anger, and added blame, attaching it to themself. “You’re angry, angrier than you’ve ever been in your life. With me.”
“No,” Orpheus resisted stubbornly, eyes narrowing just a little bit. “It was my decision, you… you had nothing to do with…” he gasped, eyes squeezing shut as he tried to fight the feeling. It was easier to struggle against, an invader in his very soul. He didn’t get angry often. This, this overwhelming rage… it wasn’t like him. It was different enough that he could latch onto it and fight it as hard as he possible could. “You didn’t know what… the House would do, I can’t…” he winced, the feeling spreading through his veins like wildfire as Elpis kept pulling. “I can’t blame you…” a low hiss escaped him as the reasonable, loyal part of him was edged out by anger as sharp as a knife. He held on for a few moments longer, eyes squeezed shut as he fought a desperate, invisible battle against a tide he couldn’t control. When he opened his eyes again, there was something in them that wasn’t quite his. Something dark and burning and quite possibly deadly. He was still resisting, his efforts small but noticeable, but he had lost ground. He was just fighting to get it back. “How dare you?” he managed, voice shaking with rage, his eyes squeezing shut every few moments, trying to silence the doubt pulsing through his veins, the doubt that this feeling made sense. He’d fought it off once before, for L. Like it or not, it wasn’t as easy to fight off for Elpis. “How dare you come here and… and talk like we’re friends? We’re… you traitor!” The word was a low growl that turned into a nearly feral scream, Orpheus very quickly losing sight of any reason not to be angry with Elpis.
Elpis could have argued with him. They could have tried to convince him that they were to blame, could have used his thoughts against him, made a convincing case, even. They didn’t. That wasn’t the point. This wasn’t a matter of what Orpheus really thought, just what he felt in this moment. And that, they didn’t need words for. Although it seemed to help to have something for the anger to latch onto...so a more vague, general emotion wasn’t as powerful. They noted that, and the fact that anger was a lot more intense than calm. He was losing the fight, they could tell. They didn’t stop pulling as he opened his eyes, as green met hazel. His expression…it was working. He was angry now, angry with them, as they’d intended him to be. They stared back at him, eyes searching, waiting for him to stop fighting it completely. Then they’d have really succeeded. “Yes,” they murmured, voice still soft and firm all at once. “You thought we were friends, but I betrayed you. I abandoned you, I let the House hurt you for so long without coming back for you, and here I am, now…of course you’re angry, who wouldn’t hate me for that?” They pulled on the anger, fanned the flames, trying to get it as hot and deadly as they possibly could. How much anger could they make him feel? He just needed to stop struggling, that was all. As long as he stopped struggling, they’d count it as a success.
Human immune systems were made to detect foreign bodies and attack them. They were supposed to figure out what wasn’t supposed to be there and snuff it out. Orpheus felt anger, sometimes. It was a human emotion, after all, it would have been impossible for Orpheus to go his entire life without feeling it. But he wasn’t an angry person by nature. His anger, when it appeared, was quickly redirected into something else, because he refused to hurt anyone with a fire in his veins that he couldn’t quite control. If there was the equivalent to an immune system in Orpheus’ brain, it had recognized that what Elpis was making him feel wasn’t supposed to be there. It pushed back, whispering arguments in Orpheus’ ear, reminding him that Elpis was here to make good on a promise, that Elpis was risking themself in order to save Orpheus. That Elpis deserved nothing but Orpheus’ respect and love. Orpheus was never going to stop fighting against the feeling – even the House hadn’t been skilled enough to make him accept it as his own. “I… wouldn’t…” Orpheus managed just before Elpis gave one final tug. It felt like pulling a rope too hard, the weakest point fraying and breaking, the force of pulling and resisting knocking both sides back. Orpheus was on the ground before he could even begin to understand what had happened, and even if he could… There was nothing in his mind but red. Nothing but anger burning underneath his skin, his eyes narrowed to slits, his breath coming hard, his heart thudding in his chest. Whatever Elpis had been pulling on him had snapped, forcing Orpheus’ anger to the forefront and leaving Elpis nothing to grab onto in order to manipulate it again.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on May 12, 2021 22:51:20 GMT -5
Elpis had no idea how humans worked. They were trying to figure it out, but it had been hard to even get close before now. They were excited for this precisely because they didn’t understand, they wanted to pursue this to the farthest reaches because they couldn’t know if they didn’t. Knowledge, it seemed, was what they craved most. They didn’t need food, or water, or air. They didn’t seem to require anything to survive. But they felt like they needed answers. It felt as important as life. They narrowed their eyes as he continued to resist them. They were pulling hard. The anger was high, burning bright and fierce as they’d made it, and still Orpheus resisted it. They didn’t understand. They narrowed their eyes, giving one more tug...and then they fell back, stumbling as it snapped and vanished, their mind grasping for it even as it melted into nothing. “No!” They let out a yell and threw themself forward, approaching Orpheus as fast as they could. Panic stabbed deep - what had they just done to him? They’d felt it snap...they stopped, hand flying up to cover their mouth. It didn’t make any sense, they hadn’t thought it would be breakable, they hadn’t even considered...they’d missed something. And now Orpheus was on the ground because of it. “Orpheus…” they managed, voice shaking. They reached out with their mind, trying to soothe the damage and repair it, but they couldn’t tell how much they we’re actually helping, and they were terrified of making it worse. But how could they do nothing at all?
Orpheus’ anger flared even more as Elpis got too close, and he let out a near animalistic hiss. He was trying to think past it, but it was like a wall, blocking everything else and tinting the world red. He was breathing hard, feeling almost choked by the intensity of the feeling. He wasn’t used to it, but he wasn’t fighting it anymore. There was nothing to fight, it was just there, in front of everything else. Elpis’ fault. Elpis’ fault. This, everything leading up to this… that was the closest he was able to come to rational thought. Elpis’ fault. He glared at them, only distantly aware that he had gotten on the ground, somehow. Distantly aware that something had changed, that something had snapped. It felt… well, not natural, but not wrong, not like it had when Elpis had been tugging at it. It could fuel him, if he let it. It could push him forward… yes… Orpheus gulped in air, the tension in his shoulders relaxing a tiny bit as Elpis began to try to undo the damage. It was like cool water poured on lava. It hardened it for just a moment before the water fizzled off into steam. But it was better than nothing. It cut through the edges of Orpheus’ anger, letting him bear his weight on his elbows, letting him blink and see more than just a target. “Was that… intentional?” he asked after a long moment, as soon as he found words that would form. “Is this part of… of the experiment?” It was difficult to gather his thoughts, to understand what was happening. Just past the anger was trust. All he had to do was sift through and find it.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on May 17, 2021 13:40:59 GMT -5
Elpis froze as he hissed at them, their eyes widening a little. He was angry, angrier than even they’d intended him to be. Whatever had snapped...they couldn’t quite imagine what it was, but they had to fix it, somehow. That was all there was to it. They had to find a way to fix it. They couldn’t tell how deep the damage was. They didn’t believe it was permanent, though, even if a deeply uncomfortable voice whispered that it might be. It might be something they couldn’t fix, or didn’t know how to fix, or… At least he was angry, right? They’d technically succeeded in their goal of making him stop fighting it. It wasn’t what they’d been picturing. They hesitated. “No,” they admitted, looking away as Orpheus managed to speak. Was that a good sign? Had they healed him, at least a little bit? They didn’t think he could have spoken a moment ago, so most likely it was a good sign. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that…” they added, shifting a little uncomfortably. “I didn’t know that would happen. I must have pulled too hard. I...I think I can fix it, though...I already fixed it a little bit.” They tried to sound as hopeful as they could, even if they couldn’t keep the fear out completely.
Orpheus managed to breathe out, his brows knitting together as Elpis worked to undo the damage. He still felt the anger there, burning just below the surface, but he thought Elpis could probably feel it there, too. They’d get to it. They better get to it… he felt it flare up, his eyes widening in shock as he pushed against it before it consumed him again. “It’s okay,” he managed through gritted teeth, trying to sound more confident than he felt. “It was an accident… and… and you should know the House has tried to make me angry like that… before.” His expression relaxed just a bit more as whatever it was Elpis was doing seemed to overwhelm the fire burning just out of sight. “It’s a foreign emotion to me, for the most part. So it’s a lot easier for me to push against and try to get away from.” Orpheus didn’t quite know why he was comforting Elpis, but he thought it was the best course of action. They seemed worried, which didn’t bode well. If they were worried about fixing it… the anger pulsed again and Orpheus closed his eyes, hands balling into fists as he tried to force it back again. “Now you know,” he added, eyes opening again to meet Elpis’. “It’s possible to pull too hard. And you can avoid the snapping point, now.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on May 20, 2021 17:36:44 GMT -5
Elpis could feel the anger, still burning and alive under his skin, like lave under rock. Eventually, they knew, the rock would melt, and then where would they be? They needed to cool it down before that happened. They concentrated harder, trying to extinguish the anger, the rage they’d managed to ignite. They had nothing left to pull on or manipulate, so they didn’t, they just tried to wipe it out entirely, like directing an ocean at a forest fire. There was no directness, no subtlety to it. “I didn’t know that,” they murmured, breathing out as they felt some of their efforts succeed. It was still burning, it was far from gone, but they were trying their best to put it out. “It’s something I didn’t know before, and I do now, so...that’s a good thing, right?” They added tentatively. Was he genuinely angry with them, or was he just angry because they’d made him angry? It was hard to tell. “How are you feeling now?” They added, eyes wide. At least some of the damage was undone...
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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