Orpheus took a deep breath in, wishing he could wipe away the uncertainty from L’s face. Wishing he could make it all okay again. It hurt, standing this far away. It hurt, knowing that they were both there, but that neither of them felt safe getting closer. Orpheus swallowed, taking in a deep breath. Elpis was kinder than the House, there was no doubt about that. In this, especially. The House had never allowed Orpheus to talk to L as himself, had never let him be himself anywhere near L, except right after he died. At least he got to talk to L, now. If only he knew what to say. Part of him… part of him wanted to ask L if he wanted Elpis to remove his memories of Orpheus. Part of him wanted to relieve L of this burden, of the pain he must be feeling, the pain that was mirrored in Orpheus’ own heart. “I resisted,” Orpheus acquiesced, still sounding a little bit reluctant, “but I had a hand on your neck. That alone… well, that alone must have been a nightmare for you.” He bit his lip, then decided to just… do it. He took a few steps forward, slow and hesitant at first until he was certain that L was aware of what he was doing. When he got close enough, one hand reached out to very gently rest on L’s cheek. “I’m me,” he tapped lightly, tip of his finger brushing against L’s cheekbone. “And… you know I’m me, because Elpis and the House can’t do this. They may know our code from snooping in our heads, but the House has never once been able to influence it.”
It didn’t feel okay. It felt like the sliver of hope Elpis had brought had been extinguished in an instant. It felt like any hope of getting Orpheus back was officially gone now. It felt like everything had come to a sudden, bitter end, and there was nothing L could do about it. All he wanted was to go back in time and savor another moment where everything was okay. But he couldn’t have that. He only had dreams, now, and those could turn into nightmares at the moment’s notice. So L didn’t move. He didn’t approach. He just stood still and waited for something to happen. He sucked in a deep breath as Orpheus spoke, his eyes flicking away. It was true that it had been hard, having the hand to his throat, but that wasn’t what he was thinking of. That wasn’t the hardest part of this. When Orpheus moved, he looked up quickly, but he didn’t move away. He let Orpheus approach. He didn’t flinch from his touch, and he didn’t break eye contact. The moment he felt the words, the tension bled from his shoulders and face, and he caught Orpheus’ other hand, his grip gentle but firm. Slowly, without looking down, he shifted his grip so his index finger rested on Orpheus’ wrist. “I was so afraid for you,” he tapped gently, searching Orpheus’ eyes. “What happened?”
Orpheus blinked, grateful that L hadn’t moved away. Grateful that he hadn’t flinched back, though there was probably a part of him that had wanted to. Orpheus wouldn’t have blamed him. He didn’t know how quickly he could get used to someone’s touch if they had nearly killed him in a way he had nightmares about. Perhaps your first death was always going to be your most memorable. Perhaps your first death would be the one that haunted you in your sleep, no matter how many nights had passed since it had happened. Orpheus had died a number of times, but he wasn’t as afraid of being stabbed or poisoned as he was of being torn apart like he had been the first time death had come for him. Orpheus’ gaze slid down to where their hands were touching, and he gave L’s hand a soft squeeze. He wanted to go back to a time when L could trust him wholeheartedly. When there was no fear that his body might betray him. When touching… being this close… was completely safe. Orpheus had taken more from L than he had ever thought he would. He hadn’t thought ahead. He hadn’t considered this. Maybe he should have. “I was afraid for you,” Orpheus returned, his taps growing just a little bit quicker on the last word. “I didn’t clarify the boundaries with Elpis, not as well as I should have. I don’t think they realized that this was wrong, which… which is why I have to keep helping them. Once they realized I was upset with them, they tried to fix it. I don’t… Λ… I don’t know how to tell them that they can’t fix everything as easily as they seem to think.”
It was hard not to flinch, in a way, but L didn’t want to, so he did his best not to. Orpheus didn’t deserve that. Orpheus didn’t deserve to have L flinch from his touch, which wasn’t enough on its own, but it helped. He was also right. The first time stuck with you the most, it seemed. L had been strangled the first time he’d died, and he’d never gotten over the fear of it happening again, though the House had certainly tried to get him used to the idea. It hadn’t worked. It was still just as terrifying and horrible as it had been before. Being close was dangerous now. Being close meant he wouldn’t have time to defend himself if he needed to. He wouldn’t be able to stop Orpheus if he was made to attack now...if Elpis or the House interfered. He narrowed his eyes a little at the explanation. He could understand not getting something other people seemed to, but… “And they didn’t see how hard you were fighting them?” He tapped gently. “They didn’t notice that?” He wanted to be able to give them the benefit of the doubt. But that was how BB had taken his victims. Because L hadn’t wanted to believe he would do it. Because L hadn’t been suspicious and careful enough. “You’re not responsible for their actions,” he added firmly, holding Orpheus’ gaze. ”You’re not responsible for teaching them, if you don't choose to.”
Orpheus understood L’s wariness. He knew that Elpis could hurt him badly, if they chose to. He understood that the attack had been worse on L’s side than it had been on Orpheus’ side, because throughout it all, Orpheus had known that Elpis was still on his side. That Elpis was still trying to help, even if they were going about it in a way that hurt them both. Orpheus hadn’t thought of it as a betrayal, as upset as he had been by it. He hadn’t known that L did… he probably could have figured it out, if he had been of his own mind during the ‘experiment.’ If he had been able to focus on anything other than the fact that he hated L, and the knowledge at the back of his mind that there was nobody in any world that he hated less than L. “They told me to fight back when they’re trying things. It helps create a realistic situation, and it helps them know how they need to improve. It wasn’t unusual for me to fight it – they expected it, I’m sure.” Orpheus knew that wasn’t a satisfactory explanation, but it was all he had. It was, after all, the truth. “I’ll be honest,” Orpheus admitted, looking away and forcing himself to breathe, “I didn’t think they would escalate quite so quickly. The first time they were just trying to make me feel different things. Calm… tired…” he hesitated, then continued. “Angry. I didn’t think they would go so quickly for something that would hurt you.” Slowly, Orpheus lifted his gaze to meet L’s, his thumb gently tracing the line of L’s cheek. “I wish I could promise that I’ll never kill you.”
L hadn’t known. He hadn’t even known what the experiments involved, he hadn’t known what Elpis planned to do, and he didn’t like not knowing what was happening. He needed to know Orpheus was okay, and he didn’t. He didn’t even know whether Elpis had ever intended to help him at all. It was hard to trust Elpis. It was hard to trust that they had good intentions when they were perfectly capable of doing whatever they chose, and they had already proven they were willing to go as far as it took to accomplish whatever it was they were trying to accomplish. He breathed out, closing his eyes for a moment. He wanted to believe Orpheus, but he couldn’t just trust Elpis because he wanted to, no matter how much it would make things easier. When he opened his eyes again, he searched Orpheus’ gaze, his silent mask fading uncertainly away. “You can promise that,” he murmured, breathing out softly. “You can. It’s not you when you’re being controlled. It’s not. No more than Elpis is to blame for the things they did when the House had them. You can’t keep blaming yourself for things you didn’t do. I know you. You’d never hurt me, and I will stand by that, forever. Okay?” He meant it. Orpheus was a victim, as much as L was. He wasn’t entirely sure about Elpis, but he knew that, as long as they weren’t the House, they had been a victim once too.
Orpheus took a deep breath, letting his eyes close for just a moment. He wanted things to work out. He wanted it all to be okay, but okay felt like it was becoming more and more distant by the minute. He had now, though. He had this moment, and he was going to make the most of it. The House didn’t give him the opportunity to speak to L… he doubted that Elpis was listening in. They could have denied him the chance to speak to him, but they hadn’t. As terrible as things had been, there was still a chance that things could be okay. There was still hope. Orpheus had to do his best to hold on to it. “Okay,” Orpheus tapped back, taking a deep breath and flicking his eyes back open. He had memorized L’s features hundreds of times before, had etched them into his memory in a way that couldn’t be disturbed by either the House or Elpis. They could take the surface memories, they could change things around in his mind, but they couldn’t make him hurt L. They didn’t have that power. “Then… I wish I could promise you that these hands would never hurt you. That you’d never have to see my face in your nightmares, except as the one who holds you and pulls you back from the brink when they threaten to push you over the edge. I wish I could promise that you would never have to see my eyes filled with hatred that isn’t mine or hear my voice spit words with a vitriol I’m incapable of when it comes to you. I wish I could promise that I’ll never be associated with pain in your mind, even subconsciously.”
They were here now. They were together in this moment. L knew better than to expect anything to last forever, now...he knew better than to assume things wouldn’t change. Things always changed. Nothing lasted, nothing was permanent, but if there was anything in the world that Orpheus had taught him, wasn’t it hope? That things could be alright even if they ended? That a flower was worth admiring even if it faded? He struggled to hold onto hope. He struggled to believe this could ever be okay, now. It was possible that the time for being okay had come and gone. Maybe the good part of the story had ended. He met Orpheus’ eyes. It was odd, that it was when he thought he was about to lose him, that he tried to memorize his features once again. He’d done it when he was dying, too. In the room with the frogs, before he’d known Orpheus loved him too. And now...now. When he half believed this might be goodbye. Some thoughts were so painful they felt like physical wounds. It was all L could do not to collapse to the ground under the pain of this one. The words scorched his heart. The words that felt like they were weapons, though he knew that wasn’t how Orpheus meant them. He was telling the truth, as usual. And here L was. Trying and failing to make himself hold on. He thought, vaguely, that this was how Orpheus always communicated his deepest emotions. This...poetry. These gentle lyrics, soft and sung, straight from his heart. If he’d had his lyre, L didn’t doubt that he would have sung them. “All I wish is for you to come home,” he breathed, and leaned forward, pressing as close as he could get. “And if not that, then I would be more than content with your happiness and safety.”
Orpheus wanted nothing more than to hold onto L forever. If this moment was forever, he would be content with it. The thing was… when he had failed Eurydice, she had left him behind. He had born that loss, he had survived in spite of it. Now, when he failed L, he had forced L to deal with that pain. There was no soft bandage of forgetting, not for L. If Orpheus thought he would want that, he would have offered it to him. Don’t carry me around like a dagger in your heart, he would have said, Allow Elpis to steal me from your memories so you can be at peace once more. He knew L would never accept that. He knew L would likely be upset that Orpheus had even offered it. Orpheus knew that, if their situations were reversed, he wouldn’t have wanted to forget even a moment of what they’d had. This… well, it hurt more than anything else Orpheus had been through, but the memories he harbored of their time free together… it was worth it. He just hoped that L felt the same. “This is all to come home,” Orpheus whispered, breaking away from their code so he could breathe the words into L’s ear, so they were as close and personal as he could make them. “There is no happiness for me anymore unless it’s with you.” He pulled L closer, letting his eyes close as he buried his face against L’s shoulder, his hand clutching at the fabric at the back of L’s shirt. He wanted to tell him he loved him. He wanted to hold on, he wanted to believe that this could be their future. It was so hard to believe, now. So hard to keep holding on, to hope that this would fix the problem he had created. He wished, deep down, that he hadn’t made the bargain he had. That he had waited, tried to find another way to free Elpis. He couldn’t undo the past, but he would never stop regretting the amount of pain he’d caused.
L knew, deep down, that he had been left with a gaping wound. He knew that he was both grieving and unable to grieve, he was dealing with a loss without any closure. This, he knew, was the pain of the loved ones of the missing, not the dead. This was the pain of memories when you were unable to move on. He had never experienced that pain before now, but he had seen it. He was well aware that it could drive the most rational of minds mad. Love was dangerous. He had always known that. But he had worried that it would be used against him by others. He had never imagined a scenario like this. Rationally, forgetting would have been the safest thing. Especially since his job was saving lives, and he knew he was far from the top of his game at the moment. Watari could probably tell that he was distracted, his mind wasn’t focusing the way it should...he felt half dead himself, sometimes. He let himself be pulled in, let his body relax against Orpheus completely. He was here now. They were both here, and he could deal with the pain later. The bargain. Too many nights, L had lain awake, thinking about it. Of course, he hadn’t even known about it until Elpis appeared, but now that he did...he had seriously considered whether it was a betrayal. He would never tell Orpheus the way his heart had shattered, the tears that had burned his eyes as he hid away from Watari and tried his hardest to decide, logically, was he betrayed by the one he loved and trusted most? He had decided, late one night, that no. No, this was no betrayal. And he had never let himself question it again. “I’ll wait as long as it takes,” he breathed into Orpheus’ ear, his voice almost soft enough to be lost completely. “No matter what, I won’t stop waiting for you to come home.”
Orpheus had done everything in his power never to betray L, but he had done it anyway. Or… maybe he hadn’t betrayed him, but he had failed him. He hadn’t thought about how it would affect him when it had mattered most, and he had broken a promise. He had thought he would have more time to figure it out, he had thought he’d have a chance to talk to L and they would try to find a way around it together, but the House had stolen that from him. He kept seeing the shock in L’s eyes the first time he had come back, the way L had looked at him like he might be playing a practical joke as the House funneled words through him, because he wasn’t really him. There were so many lives and false stories crammed into his brain, and he wanted to keep all of them. He needed to know how much he had hurt people with his decision. He needed to remember every time L had watched him, every time he had looked away. He needed to remember the hope fading from L’s eyes as he appeared time after time with no trace of himself. This was the legacy he had left. This was what he had caused, and he needed to bear that burden. He needed to live with it. Just as L wouldn’t want to forget what they had, once, Orpheus didn’t want to forget every moment since he died. He could have asked Elpis to get rid of it, but he refused to. “I love you,” Orpheus whispered, because it was the only thing left to say. All of the other words had been stolen or dropped to the ground. Or maybe they had just withered away. “I’m going to come home. It may take me a while, but one day I’ll knock on your door and I won’t have to leave unless you want me to.” It was another promise, he knew. He knew well enough that he needed to stop making those, but he had an eternity here with the House and with Elpis. He would die a million times over if it meant getting back to L. If it meant going home.
The first time had been the worst, probably. When he hadn’t known. When he’d seen Orpheus and thought, somehow, impossibly, he had survived. When he had been ready to run to him, to leap into his arms, it bury his head in his shoulder and sob out of grief and relief at once. That wasn’t what had happened. Now...now, it hurt, but it was the ache of chronic pain, not the shock of something new. It wasn’t better, he’d discovered, to know what was coming. It was quite possibly worse. He knew Orpheus had broken a promise. He knew that he hadn’t waited for him. He had chosen to save Elpis at the cost of his afterlife, and who was L to hold that against him? He knew it hurt, but he also knew that Orpheus was the only one who should decide what to do with his time, alive or dead. He just wished it hadn’t ended in him in pain, that was all. He didn’t want to forget. He didn’t want to lose a single moment of what they’d had, even if they never had it again. He understood now, why loved ones of the deceased often kept pictures and keepsakes. He had always thought it would be sensible to remove all reminders, in order to move one, but moving on, it wasn’t forgetting. It wasn’t abandoning. It was processing. It was coming to terms with it, the good and the bad. The difference was that Orpheus wasn’t gone. He couldn’t move on when he was right there, when he was still fighting, it was like watching someone fight an illness, and being powerless to do a thing to help them. L hated being powerless, more than almost anything else. “Never, then,” he breathed, “if you’ll only leave if I want you to, you’ll never leave me again.”
“Never,” Orpheus agreed, voice soft as he curled closer into L’s embrace. He didn’t know when they would next have a chance to sit like this. He knew it was cutting into the time Elpis could be using to train, but he found he didn’t quite care. They could wait. They could protect the two of them from the House for a little while longer. It was the least they could do after what they had just put both of them through, even if the pain it caused was unintentional. Orpheus sighed softly, knowing full well he was going to have to explain to Elpis that the hurt didn’t go away just because you could heal a person. They obviously didn’t understand trauma, which was… well, Orpheus was surprised by it. After everything they had been through at the hands of the House, he thought it would have some understanding of the fact that the mental wounds never fully heal, even if the physical ones do. This wasn’t a promise in the same way Orpheus’ other promises had been. His other promises had been hopes for a future, one that Orpheus wanted to make happen, but that he really had no control over. This promise wasn’t so much a promise to be there as it was a promise to fight like hell. He had however many lives Elpis wanted to give him, he could keep fighting until he got free. Until he ended up home with L. And if he couldn’t? Then it was over for both of them, and it would be time for L to move on. Part of Orpheus wished he could allow L to move on now. The other part was more than grateful for having L stick around and stay here, helping him stay himself, even when the House had stripped him of everything important. “I like the idea of never,” Orpheus whispered, letting out a deep breath and letting his gaze focus on the ceiling. He didn’t deserve L. He didn’t deserve everything L had given him.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Jul 11, 2021 16:53:22 GMT -5
L was beginning to get a better picture of Elpis in his head, though he wasn’t sure he liked the picture he was getting. He could understand someone not understanding trauma. He could even understand a traumatized person not understanding trauma. Having worked with Wammy’s House as long as he had, he knew a lot about children and the way their minds worked, especially children who weren’t quite ordinary. But Elpis...they weren’t a child. Their mind was fully developed. They could understand consequences, and they could understand trauma. L was willing to be patient with them, for now, but he was not willing to allow harm to come to someone, to Orpheus. He just felt...conflicted. And not a little bit nervous about the situation in general. He pushed the thought away. Elpis could be dealt with later. What mattered right now was the fact that Orpheus was there, and there was really no telling when he would be again. The idea of moving on was too painful for L to process at the moment. A wound couldn’t heal if he was constantly being reopened, could it? And he couldn’t give up hope, he couldn’t let himself believe this would fail, he wouldn’t leave, ever. “I’d spent eternity with you,” he murmured, the tension slipping away for the moment. “If I could. I think, if the Underworld still exists in my time, then maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all. Remember when I worried about boredom? I don’t know what I was thinking. How could I be bored when I have you?”
It wasn’t easy, most of the time, to pretend that none of this was happening. It wasn’t easy to ignore it and say that they were fine, that Orpheus hadn’t messed everything up when he had made his decision. It wasn’t easy to forget that he was under the thumb of two of the most powerful creatures in the entire universe. It was terrifying, Orpheus had to admit. It was terrifying not to know when he could trust his own mind, not to know if his memories were his or if they were someone else’s, or if they were faked entirely. It was terrifying not being able to trust his own feelings, not knowing for sure that he was still the same person underneath it all. Would he even be able to go back to a normal life after all of this? Orpheus wanted nothing more than a little bit of normalcy and domesticity. He wanted to live with L and eat breakfast with him and learn exactly what habits L picked up in his day-to-day life that nobody else was aware of. He wanted to share his life with him, not just a few stolen moments whenever he was himself. “Eternity used to be a frightening thought,” Orpheus replied softly, letting his eyes close as he soaked in L’s warmth. “I used to fear that I would lose myself. And… and an eternity here is more terrifying, I guess… but an eternity with you would be nothing short of a miracle. A dream come true. We could… we could travel universes. We could see worlds… and if we’re forced to the Underworld, then we could still be together. I want… I want to be able to spend that time with you. I’d write a new song every day until there was enough music to cover the world four times over, and everyone who heard it would know how deeply my love for you runs. And they would be comforted by the fact that there’s still love in the Underworld. That not everything ends in death.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Jul 13, 2021 23:35:59 GMT -5
L wanted to pretend, for even a moment, that this wasn’t happening. That everything was okay, this was just another blink they were sharing, and when L returned, Orpheus would be there again. Whole, complete, and there, But he knew it wasn’t true. He was the best at smelling lies, and that one, he could taste, too. Orpheus wasn’t okay. He might never Ben okay again, and L would have to live with that. It would never stop hurting, even if he did give you hope eventually. He had felt it, fading. Had he lost it already? Orpheus didn’t deserve this. Whether he’d even made a mistake was still up for debate, but regardless, he didn’t deserve any of this. This…this torture, being forced to hurt people, being forced to push his friends away. Not many had stayed after what had happened. L knew he shouldn’t blame them, but he did anyway. “An eternity alone would be terrifying,” he admitted quietly. It was true that he might lost himself completely, if that happened. It was very likely, actually. He hated to think of what would happen if he were to die now. If he were to die…he would be forced to see what happened next alone. He didn’t want to leave Orpheus behind, even if technically, Orpheus had left him behind first. He hadn’t intended to. He had never intended to. “I’d be there,” he murmured back. “And not because I’d be trapped. I’d be there because I would choose to, every day. And we’d prove that love is immortal.”
Orpheus tried not to think about the people he had lost. They were people he had turned his back on when he had made this decision. People he had hurt, even if that had never been his intent. He should have waited. He should have had faith that he could convince the House to give him another chance to save Elpis. Instead, he was here. He didn’t regret Elpis’ freedom. He would never regret that. It was just… he regretted a lot of the things that had happened because of it. Orpheus never would have blamed L for leaving. He would have encouraged it, if he had thought there was even a chance that L would agree. He was dangerous now. He wasn’t himself, not in thew ay he wanted to be. He didn’t know if he would be able to keep fighting back if it weren’t for L, but that was besides the point. L deserved the chance to be happy and move on. Orpheus was the one preventing him from doing that. “An eternity alone,” Orpheus echoed, weighing the thoughts on his tongue like they were bricks. “You won’t have that, even if I don’t get to join you in eternity. You’ll have Watari, when he joins you, and if you can find Eurydice, I’m sure she would be pleased to spend time with you as well. I think… well, I’m glad you got to know her a little bit, when she still blinked in.” Orpheus fell silent for a few moments, basking in the feeling of his solid weight against L’s. Moments like this would have robbed him of breath before, but now it felt as though the air in the entire universe had been sucked dry. He wasn’t allowed to be with L nearly as much as he wanted. “We’re proving right now that love is immortal,” Orpheus whispered, letting his eyes close. “Immortal and invincible. The House will never break it. I doubt Elpis would ever try, but if they do… they won’t be able to. Love won one more battle today.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Jul 16, 2021 23:30:34 GMT -5
L wasn’t going to leave. He wasn’t ever going to leave, no matter what. Orpheus’ decision may have caused this, but he had never intended for it to happen. He had meant to free Elpis…and they had needed it. Who knew where they’d have ended up without Orpheus? Nowhere good, probably just nowhere, actually. L couldn’t blame Orpheus for this. It hadn’t been intentional…even if it hurt, deeply. Even if they probably could never fix it. Maybe…maybe they could, was it stupid to want to believe in Elpis? L wished he could trust them, but he wasn’t prone to trust, especially not with beings that forced his loved ones to try and hurt him. He had bad experiences with that. He shook his head a little as Orpheus continued, shifting to meet his eyes. “That’s not what I meant,” he murmured, gaze serious. “Not death. Or at least…not mine. This, the House, what it turned you into…this is what an eternity alone would look like, I think. I’m here, of course, but only when it chooses to let me see you, and then you’re not you, anyway. I think hell would be losing the person you love, but not completely. Having enough of them there to keep a sliver of your mind believing they can come back, but never letting them close enough to ease the pain of loss.” He looked down. “I only mean…the House is good at this, I have to admit that much.” He fell silent. He hadn’t intended to make Orpheus feel bad…he hoped he hadn’t. But he couldn’t help thinking the House was far too smart to be the way it was. He managed a small smile. “It didn’t seem to take love into proper consideration,” he replied, voice soft. “It hasn’t broken. I don’t believe that it will. I love you.”
Orpheus tensed, letting his eyes drift closed and squeeze tight as L explained what he had meant. An eternity of this… yes. “I think,” Orpheus whispered after a long moment, his hand squeezing L’s as gently as he could manage while still calming his nerves, “that the House has manufactured two different versions of hell. The one you just described, and… and the one where you lose yourself over and over again, and every time you think you have yourself back, you lose control once more. An eternity where you have to watch your hands kill the people you love and care about, where you’re powerless to stop all of that bloodshed and damage, and you know you have nobody to blame but yourself. I think… that’s another version of alone. The version where your mind is a prison, and you want to tell the person who loves you that maybe it’s time to move on. That maybe there’s no way out, but if you give up hope… if you end up believing that… then the bloodshed will only get worse.” He didn’t mean to discount L’s version f it, but his own was similar. Two different hells, two different people. Both of them stuck and yearning to join the other. That was all Orpheus had wanted since Eurydice had died. That was all that had gotten him through his years of wandering. He would have a future with L. He would watch L grow, even if he never got the chance to grow old. He would be there with him and wake up in bed with him in the morning (or whenever L happened to wake up), even if Orpheus himself didn’t technically need to sleep. That was the future he had been hoping for, not this… this hell. “I don’t want to challenge the House,” Orpheus managed after a long moment, letting the air rest with the knowledge that they were both suffering, dying a thousand painful deaths ever day. A thousand deaths that neither of them could fully heal from, even if their hearts never truly stopped. “I think that’s a foolish idea… but I’m pleased it hasn’t managed to break us. And it hasn’t managed to break our tie to each other. I think… it would take a lot to do that. A lot more than the House has. Maybe more than Elpis and the House combined. I love you. And I can promise that I’ll love you for as long as there’s a heart in my chest.”
L watched Orpheus as he spoke. He knew that hell, though he’d never lived it. He knew it, but he’d never felt it, so did he really know it at all? Orpheus was the one who had to feel it. Who had to watch it, who had to bear witness to everything that happened. L only had to go through the parts the House decided to put him through, and even then he wasn’t the one making it happen. He wasn’t the one who was behind the hurt. Orpheus was the one who had to deal with every minute of this, who had to feel the pain of having hurt them all, though of course it wasn’t actually his fault. It was much easier to believe that when it was someone else, and he knew it. *You want to tell the person who loves you that maybe it’s time to move on.* He looked up as Orpheus continued, his eyes suddenly a little bit sharp. That had been far too specific…he searched his gaze, eyes wide. “You know I’m not going to move on, right?” He asked quietly. “You know I’m never going to give up on you, don’t you? Because I won’t. Nothing anyone can do could make me.” He had just wanted Orpheus. He had just wanted him to come home…all he had wanted was to share his life with him. Not this. He hadn’t wanted this…this pain, this hell, this sense of loneliness, while at the same time knowing it was much worse for Orpheus. At least L got breaks. He went home. He had someone who could comfort him, or try, at least. Even if he never actually got to stop feeling the pain…he slept, sometimes. Orpheus didn’t have that luxury anymore. He was whatever the House decided he was. He breathed out. He believed Orpheus. He knew…he knew he was right. He knew that they hadn’t been broken apart. He had to believe they wouldn’t be, he had to believe that it would be alright, somehow. “I love you too,” he murmured. “I always will. No matter what, nothing can change that. As long as I am me, I will love you.”
Orpheus wished he had a way to fix this. He wished he could take the pain away from L, wished he hadn’t never put either of them in this situation. He knew L had it worse – he had to watch time and time again as Orpheus died in front of him, as he became someone other than himself, as he hurt people who had done nothing wrong. It was L’s job to punish and put away people like that. It was L’s job to make sure that people like Orpheus couldn’t hurt anyone ever again. But there was nothing he could do to stop it as Orpheus was used over and over and over again to hurt strangers and old friends alike. It was a wonder he hadn’t cracked or gone insane. It was a wonder he still wanted Orpheus to come home. The breaks L got… Orpheus wasn’t jealous of those. Those moments had to be as studded by pain as all the rest. Those moments had to be just as hard, because there was nobody there but Watari to confide in. There was nothing to do other than work, to be surrounded by the worst of humanity on all sides. Orpheus wished he hadn’t become the worst of humanity. He wished he could have spared L that pain. Orpheus knew he got more breaks than L did. He got moments where he wasn’t even in his head, where the thoughts there were alien and strange, where he wasn’t who he had always been. He fought against those moments as best he could, but the House was powerful, and Orpheus was just one person. They were still breaks. More than L got, for certain, because for L there was no escape from thinking about the pain they were both in. Orpheus didn’t have a choice in what he thought about, and he thought, in a way, that was kinder. “It might be easier if you were able to move on,” Orpheus whispered, watching L as carefully as he could. “I know… I know it’s not easy. I know you don’t want to, but… but it would make it easier for you. It would give you the chance to breathe again, and… and all I want, all I’ve ever wanted… is for you to be happy. You’re not happy like this, I can… I can see it on you. You shouldn’t have to carry me like a burden on your shoulders. And… you know… I’ll love you just the same, even if you move on.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Jul 20, 2021 19:54:52 GMT -5
L didn’t know who had it worse. He didn’t know if Orpheus’ hell was the worse one, or…the point was that they were both in pain, and it wasn’t fair to say one was worse than another one. He didn’t think anyone could really know that, not for sure. It was easy to say what you were going through wasn’t as bad, but Orpheus was being hurt, badly. L refused to say his pain was worse. He refused to let Orpheus believe that if he could stop it. But how could it? He had confided in Watari. How could he not? He knew he was acting differently. He knew he was faded, now. Something in him had broken when Orpheus had died, and now…what was he now that Orpheus wasn’t gone, or not gone? He was there. He wasn’t there. He was alive, he was dead, he was in hell. And L couldn’t do a thing to fix it. Being helpless as people were hurting…that was the worst hell. He would rather do this himself. He would rather have sacrificed his own afterlife, then at least Orpheus would finally get peace. That would be worth any sort of price L could pay. He knew Orpheus was trying. Of course Orpheus was trying…but it wasn’t enough to stop the pain. To fix this. This…this was why he wanted Elpis to help, this was why he was willing to let them close, and trust them. He was desperate. Or maybe he was just Orpheus. That seemed more likely. He met his eyes, his own wide and shadowed, even more than they’d used to be. He couldn’t lie. He wouldn’t lie, not to Orpheus. He looked away. Of all the things Orpheus could be doing now…and he was trying to protect L still. How could he still be so selfless, so determined to give even now that everything had been taken from them? He couldn’t understand it. He didn’t understand it at all. “And what about you?” He whispered back, holding Orpheus’ gaze. “If I move on…or forget…then who will hold you at your worst? Who will catch you when you fall? Who will hold your hand and stand at your side as you walk in the sun, finally free? Easier for me isn’t good enough. I’m sorry,”
Orpheus missed the people he had left behind in his world. He missed Mr. Hermes. He missed Persephone. He missed every person he had seen on a daily basis and had never quite appreciated enough. He had taken life for granted. He had walked away from everything he’d had when he had lost Eurydice, and though he had healed thanks to L’s guidance, patience, and help, he had never felt comfortable enough to return to Thrace. He had never seen home again, because home reminded him of Eurydice. Because home reminded him of everything he had lost. He should have appreciated everything he’d had before he lost it. He had lost most of his friends in the House, too. The people who had once looked at him with love and camaraderie, but now all he saw echoed in their faces was distrust and fear. It hurt, even if he knew those emotions weren’t technically directed at him. It wasn’t him who did the attacking, even if it was his fault everyone he loved had been hurt. It was complicated. It was easier to just blame himself. The only person who was still here, who had believed in him even before he had known the truth of what happened, was L. The only person to stand by his side. The only person who was convinced to keep trying. Orpheus loved him all the more for it, even if he knew it was hurting L. Even if he hated how much pain it caused him. He just wanted everything to be okay again. Orpheus cast his gaze away as well when L turned away from him. He took in a deep breath, his heart thudding in his chest. He was ready for L to tell him that he was ready to move on. He was ready to hear that there wasn’t room in L’s heart for this, that he loved him, but this hurt too much. The House could keep using Orpheus against L, but as long as they both believed that it wasn’t really Orpheus, that Orpheus as he had been was now gone… maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much. Maybe L moving on would be the best thing for both of them. Orpheus wasn’t so certain that was the case. For L, yes, but for himself? He breathed out, closing his eyes as he braced his entire body for the truth. “Maybe I don’t deserve anyone to hold me,” Orpheus managed, his voice coming out almost strangled. “Maybe I don’t deserve anyone here to catch me, because the only thing I’ve ever done was drop both you and Eurydice when it mattered most. Maybe… maybe you deserve better than waiting here for me. Maybe you deserve better than to let yourself be tortured because I got us both into this. I might never get free. I want to… I want to believe I will, but… but what if I don’t? What if you waste years of your life on another broken promise?”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Jul 21, 2021 13:18:22 GMT -5
Everyone took their life for granted, at least a little bit. Everyone thought that they were invincible until they didn’t. It was impossible not to, how could you know the worst was possible until it happened? L had taken his time for Orpheus for granted, too. He thought it wasn’t completely a bad thing, overall. He had enjoyed their time together. He hadn’t wasted it. He didn’t like the idea that one had to be constantly aware of the end of a thing to fully enjoy it. Children were a good example of that…they didn’t think of death, not usually. They were alive, they were able to love, they were able to feel things, deeply. If Orpheus regretted taking their time for granted, L was glad he had. He was plagued by enough death. He didn’t want to bring it into the bright patches of his life, his time with Orpheus. He wanted to simply exist, unaware that it wasn’t permanent. And for a while, he had. Or if it wasn’t that he hadn’t known, at least he’d forgotten for a little bit. He couldn’t leave now. He couldn’t just take advantage of the happiness he’d been gifted, and then run when things got hard. He loved Orpheus, deeply, eternally, without hesitation. How could he possibly turn away now? He knew why Orpheus wanted him to. He knew why he was trying to persuade him, but…no. Orpheus didn’t seem to under that this wasn’t an exchange, this wasn’t L getting something out of this, like he would when he made a deal with a criminal. Love didn’t work that way. L didn’t want it to. As long as he believed it was truly Orpheus, he would be hurt. As long as he held onto hope, it would be used against them both. Orpheus was still trying to protect him from this…but they both knew he couldn’t. If he ever could have, that ship had sailed long ago. Orpheus couldn’t stop L from hurting any more than L could stop Orpheus from hurting. They were at an impasse, and they both knew it. “Stop,” he replied, and there was a sharp edge to his tone now, just a little bit. He fixed Orpheus with a stare, his gaze intense and focused. “I don’t want to be convinced that, logically speaking, I should go. I don’t want to be told that, logically speaking, it would be better for me to turn away. I don’t want to be given the chance to save my heart. Don’t know you understand? I know logic and reason, better than anyone. Do you think I haven’t done the math? Do you think I haven’t made the calculations?” He searched his eyes, dark meeting hazel. “I know that you may never be free again. And if that’s true…then I will stay with you as long as I am able. I don’t want to be told I’m wrong. If I am…I would rather stay wrong and with you. You deserve it. I promise you that you do.”
Orpheus didn’t want to do anything that made it more difficult for L. He didn’t want to keep hurting L like that. He didn’t see love as an exchange. He didn’t think that L should only stay when Orpheus had something to offer him, that… that wasn’t how he saw it at all. He knew if the positions were reversed, there was nothing in any world that would convince him to leave L. That didn’t mean that he thought L cruel enough to just… leave, but he was so tired of hurting him. He was so tired of being nothing more than a pain in L’s heart, a sore spot where the House could keep pulling off the scab whenever it started to grow back. If this continued… well, there were two possible endings when a scab had been pulled off this man times. The wound could be infected and you could die, or the wound could scar, and you’d be left with much tougher skin than you’d had before. Orpheus knew this was breaking L’s entire heart over and over and over again, and he was tired of it. He didn’t want L to have a hardened heart because of him. He wanted to make L leave before the House had picked off the scab one too many times. “You’ve always been better at logic than me,” Orpheus admitted, letting his eyes close just a little. He didn’t know that he wanted to face L. He didn’t’ know if he was capable of saying the right thing here, but he wanted to try. He didn’t want to lose L like this. Orpheus took in a deep breath, then opened his eyes again. “I know you’ve probably figured this hundreds of times before. I know you have a better guess of how this might turn out than I do, and I know I’ve always been more optimistic than you. I just… I don’t know how much longer I’m capable of hope. I don’t know how much longer you are. If Elpis doesn’t work out… if Elpis loses…” Orpheus’ voice faltered and he looked away, curling his knees closer to his chest, though he didn’t let go of L. “Λ, you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I don’t know if this could possibly work out… I don’t know if this will end how we want it to. But I don’t want this to break you.” His voice was raw and honest. “You’re not wrong for wanting to stay,” Orpheus added, hazel eyes locking on dark. His voice was quiet, almost inaudible, but every word was laden with emotion. “I just… wish there was a way that wouldn’t hurt both of us. I wish I could spare you even an ounce of the hell I’ve put you through. And the only thing I can think to do is try to prevent you from experiencing any more.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Jul 23, 2021 17:43:16 GMT -5
L knew why Orpheus was trying to convince him. He knew that it wasn’t because he thought L was colder than he was, or because he assumed that L didn’t see love the same way. They had talked about love enough to know how they both saw it, and over time, he suspected their definitions had grown closer and closer until they were one and the same. Now, though…now, Orpheus has reason to try and convince him that it was better to wall away ans save himself. Now he has every reason to look L in the eye ans try to speak his language, try to make a logical argument that would convince him that he should go. L hated it. He hated that he understood, and he hated that if their positions were reversed he’d have done exactly the same thing, most likely. He didn’t want to be stuck in this position. What he wanted was to take Orpheus home and forget the House, and Elpis, and everything except the person in his arms. He looked away. Orpheus was right. He had thought about this over and over again, he had worked out percentages and calculations and he had done his best to predict as much as he possibly could. But at the end of the day, he couldn’t tell what was going to happen here. He didn’t know how strong Elpis was, or how the House would react to being challenged. He didn’t know how much more Orpheus could take. Surely being changed so often would leave some scarring at the very least, surely this had to be affecting him mentally. And that didn’t even start on the mental scarring the rational part of L’s brain knew he was going through. He supposed this counted as pretty significant trauma. He also knew there wasn’t any way to make it stop. It was odd, being in a situation that was actively damaging you, and feeling the wounds stripe across your soul like a knife across skin, and knowing that someday this was something you were probably going to struggle to talk about without sadness in your heart and tears at your eyes, but for now, it was simply life. This was what Orpheus wanted to protect him from. He understood. But he also knew how pointless the attempt was. “Your death broke me,” he breathed out, still looking to the side. He wasn’t sure he could meet Orpheus’ eyes anymore than Orpheus could meet his. “This…is hell for us both. I know that. I wish I could cover you with my love and smuggle you far away from here underneath it, but if not…” He caught his breath and let it out. “I love you. More than I can possibly say, more than you can possibly know. I’m not leaving you. If it breaks me, then I will break.”
Orpheus had always been driven more by feelings than by logic, but he had learned quickly that it was possible to spend any period of time with L without picking up at least a little bit of logic. While Orpheus knew L’s reliance on it was the result of a life of danger and suspicion, it was a useful tool. Even Orpheus found it often came in handy. If Orpheus had presented this argument to the L he had first met, he had little doubt that said L would be leaving now and heading straight back into a life where he didn’t know love and didn’t care to. That L had believed that he was unlovable, and Orpheus had spent a very long time trying to completely untangle the web that one cruel spider had woven. Spiderwebs seemed even enough to tear down, but if they were built with the right materials…? It took all of Orpheus’ willpower not to flinch at the knowledge that L had been broken before, and it was partially because of him. It was almost all because of him, though he’d had no say in the manner or time of his death. He would change that, if he could. He would have preferred to die in a quiet, more dignified way. “If you’re broken,” Orpheus managed, letting his voice fill the space for a long, uninterrupted moment, “then all I wish for is the time to attempt to put you back together. I would spend hours and days and months trying to weave you back into one, just like joining the two halves of a sweater. I would never give up. I can’t… I can’t give that to you, here. I can only let the House continue to shatter you. I don’t know when or if it will ever give up, Λ. I don’t know how much of you will be left by the time it gets bored, and that’s not an experiment that I want to try. I would rather… I would rather know that you were happy, somewhere, without thinking of me too much.” Orpheus would not change his mind that L deserved to move on. He deserved to be able to take the next steps towards a happy and fulfilling life. Orpheus had been around for the time he was supposed to, the rest of life would be a mixture of random luck and godly fate. In the end, the two weren’t terribly different they seem on the surface. But Orpheus knew that, if their positions were reversed, he wouldn’t allow L to keep suffering alone, no matter what the consequences. Perhaps, he considered, he was a hypocrite. “I will be there to put you back together,” Orpheus managed softly, taking L’s hand and giving it a solid squeeze. “I don’t know where or when that will be, but I will be here.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Jul 24, 2021 16:13:45 GMT -5
L’s mind had always been far more logical than not. He couldn’t seem to help it, it was just where his brain went. He knew Orpheus wasn’t that way, not as much. Everyone was somewhat logical, of course, but not everyone relied on it as heavily as L did, and he respected that. Which was why he could tell this was Orpheus trying to get through to him. He was trying to present this as reasonably as he possibly could, so L would consider it. It was a good attempt. He understood the reason behind it, and he knew that, in some ways, Orpheus was right. Just not in any way that mattered. L didn’t blame Orpheus for dying, of course. It wasn’t his fault, any more than it was L’s. Neither one of them had had any sort of say in it. Neither of them could have stopped it. He listened quietly, his eyes wide and sad as Orpheus spoke. He understood. He wanted to be okay again, of course he did..,he hadn’t even had the opportunity to mourn Orpheus before this had begun. That wound was still wide open, as raw as ever, and he didn’t think he was going to recover from it, not completely. He shook his head slowly. Orpheus didn’t understand. Orpheus had to understand. “I couldn’t be happy while you’re trapped,” he replied softly. “It’s not possible. Whatever happens, I can't forget you. I can’t move on. I can’t be happy until you’re safe and free again. I just can’t. Your pain is mine, too. You gave me your heart, so now it aches in my chest, and there is nothing to be done but hope that we will come out of this alive.” He looked at their hands. This, he knew, was what he needed. This was what he needed to make it through this alive. To keep holding onto hope. There was a light at the end of this tunnel, and he wouldn’t let Orpheus go. He wouldn’t give up on him. “I love you,” he added softly, squeezing Orpheus’ hand gently in return. “You’re worth breaking for. I won’t leave you. I will never leave you.”
Orpheus watched L for a long moment, uncertain what, exactly, might make this better. It almost felt as though anything he said would just make it worse, and there was nothing he could do to change that. He wanted to tell L that they had given it their best shot, but that now was the time to give up and move on. He wanted to remind L that he had needed to give up on Eurydice at some point, even knowing that she was trapped. He wanted to remind L that the only reason Orpheus hadn’t plunged right back into the Underworld and gotten himself killed was because of L’s guidance. “You know,” Orpheus whispered, searching L’s eyes. “You told me once that Eurydice would want me to move on and find happiness, even if I never stopped feeling sad over what I had done to her. That I deserved a chance at life, even though she didn’t have one anymore. You told me that she would have wanted happiness for me. This… this is me telling you that I want happiness for you. That you’ve done everything you can, but that the fight will be over unless I’m willing to risk your life in it, and… I’m not, Λ. I won’t let you get killed because you’re fighting a battle that’s not designed for you to win. This isn’t me saying to give up hope. This is me telling you that you deserve happiness, and that I wish nothing more than love and light for you. You have permission to mourn me. You have permission to believe I’m not here. I know… I know you don’t want to do that, but… you need to know I’ll never stop loving you, even if that’s what you decide. You need to know that I will never hold your happiness against you, even if you’re happiest in a future that doesn’t include me.” Orpheus knew the chances of L accepting this proposal were at… well, less than one percent. He expected L to be upset by the offer, but he wouldn’t rescind it. He needed L to know how serious he was. He knew L never wanted to back away and give up, but it was possible they had reached the end of the line. It was possible that they had already moved past the moment where Orpheus had looked back. The point of no return. Perhaps, he thought, that had been when he had agreed to let Elpis practice on him.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Jul 25, 2021 17:35:52 GMT -5
L knew it wasn’t fair. He knew this hurt, and he knew he couldn’t make it stop hurting, and he knew that Orpheus wanted only the best for him. But how could he let go? How could he possibly just give up? He was talking to Orpheus, he was actively speaking with him…there was no way to give up while he was still there. While he was still so clearly there, inches away from him, soft eyes and words alike begging him to save himself from the hell designed specifically to shatter him and grind up the pieces. Once again, as he sometimes was, he was struck with the sense that humans really did have it all backwards. They protected their bodies with a passion, and physical injury or illness was treated with the utmost fear and respect. If you were sick, you rested. If your bones were broken, you cared for them. What was a body to a soul? What did your bones matter when your heart ached and ached and ached? He would have preferred sudden, incurable blindness, or lost limbs, or a cut tongue to this…this helplessness. This dread, this pain, this knowledge that tomorrow would be the same all over again. Why was it that a broken heart was something to tough out and get over, while a broken finger was patiently and gently bandaged, carefully handled so as not to make it worse? Why was sickness allowed to cling on for months on end and sadness told to clear up quickly so as not to be in the way? Why were bodies treated with more love and respect than the souls that made them more than the very same corpses that were burned or buried or eaten or left to simply rot? He had never had a broken heart before, because he had never allowed anyone else to handle it, and it was very difficult to break your own. He had never been in the dark about the chances of tragedy. Somewhere along the way, he had gotten caught up in the bliss of being loved and held and seen, and he had forgotten it. That was all. A slip of the mind, a moment where he’d allowed himself to forget how cruel things could be, and that moment had turned to days, weeks, years. Until quiet reality had come to remind him that stories had endings. Was this an end? Was Orpheus right? Was this the point where he needed to be gently convinced that it was time to let go, time to move on and be happy, even if it was lonely and hard and cruel and unfair? He remembered saying those words to Orpheus, he remembered pushing his own feelings down, taking Orpheus’ hands and softly telling him that she had loved him, that she would have wanted him to be happy. That destroying himself not only hurt him, but hurt her memory, too. He knew those words were being turned on him now. He knew Orpheus believed them. He was trying to do the right thing and release L from this in between part, where the wound could never fade back into healthy tissue, but could either scar, or kill him. “When she was first dead,” he whispered finally, looking up to meet Orpheus’ eyes. “What did you do? When Hermes told you she was gone, what was your response? When he asked you how far you would go for her…” He breathed out. “‘To the end of time. To the end of the earth.’ That’s what you said. And, Orpheus, we aren’t at the end yet! This…this isn’t over. You aren’t gone. The House hasn’t let us try, yet. You went to hell for her. I know…I know this might end badly. I was there when tragedy struck you. If I try…and I fail you…then I will break as surely as you did. I will shatter if I turn. But don’t you deserve someone who will find you, too? Someone to walk all the way to hell for you? Do you believe you are the only one who can love deeply enough to be unwilling to take death for an answer?” He took Orpheus’ hand. “Look at me. It’s not over. It may end badly, I know, and I may one day be forced to look for happiness, somehow. To…move on, even though I don’t like the term. But don’t tell me it’s time. Let me try, first. Let me try.”
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Dark Sun: Great StarClan I hate hangnails...
Sept 18, 2021 22:57:46 GMT -5
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.
Sept 18, 2021 22:58:35 GMT -5
✿𝔇𝙖𝙬𝙣𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙧✿: i hate hangnails
Sept 18, 2021 23:02:33 GMT -5
✿𝔇𝙖𝙬𝙣𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙧✿: One time I had one and it pealed off some skin
Sept 18, 2021 23:03:37 GMT -5
✿𝔇𝙖𝙬𝙣𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙧✿: IT HURT SO BAD
Sept 18, 2021 23:04:33 GMT -5