Mirror, Mirror on the wall
who is the fairest
We were alike in appearance and standing.
We should have been, no doubt. Konrad was my twin, my other half, the identical face of a coin unmatched by any other. He was as much mine as I was his.
We were alike.
My fingers, however, disagreed with the thought. I let the calloused flesh, still but sixteen years young, run themselves over the translucent pale body beneath their touch. Crimson rivulets remained from my newest endeavour against my own body, dotting my flesh and staining the prints of my fingers as they travelled down; pulled by gravity. The mirror before me never lied. My digits told no tales. Konrad and I were alike, yes, identical obviously; but we would never be equals. I took it upon myself to remind this body, to remind myself, of that every single night.
I was marred in comparison to the flawless nature of my brother—of Konrad. The slits against my ribs rose and fell with every breath. I could see the pink and white nerves beneath my paled canvas stretch. I could see lines old and new merge. I could see—and my fingers could feel—every imperfection.
The razor I had used remained teetering on the edge of my night stand. A large red streak remained on its edge in the dark candlelight I left flickering.
Fathers blades were always wearing and tearing, he would not miss it much. It was sleek, fierce, forged with the surname ‘Frankenstein’ in its hilt: it was perfect. It was mine.
The sinking lines of my ribcage caught my eye then, made me sicken and sway. I was a fragile figment then. To many who sought me out, viewed me—I could be anything but. Loud, obnoxious, confident in all categories…but now? In the face of my own reflection? I was not even worth the edge of my blade. I was selfish to think myself enough. Selfish.
My outstretched palm gripped tightly to the edge of my standing vanity. My vision hazed for a moment and the bile in my gut rose to burn at my throat. Arms were around me then, familiar and strong. Strong, opposing, fitted and perfect.
“You’re alright, Victor.” The voice cooed, stinging the drying crimson at my sides as they ground against them.
“Leave me!” I insisted through gritted teeth, facing away from the voice, from the words and false promise it left me with. Breath met my shoulder, shuddered, soft, inviting… “Leave me, Konrad, please.” I choked back the sob welled in the depth of my chest. “Leave-“
“You always were so persistent,” His voice ignored my own, a smile on his lips—my lips in mimic—as they pressed gently against the curve of my neck. “Futile in your searches so, even I must admit.” Laughter then, quiet.
We were alike.
We were so different.
Why did we fit?
Why did we have to fit?
“Futile…” I seethed, shaking my head; hiding the smile my own features forced to betray on my face. “Against you.”
Konrad smirked then, breath warm against my ear. “And I, you. Always you, Victor.”
I like us like this.
My fingers tangled in your long dark waves, your hands around my hips, pulling me closer and closer still—even in your slumber; our limbs tangled up in sheets we could barely afford. On a bed we’d insisted upon blowing my very first pay-check on.
I’ll never mind that.
Best two hundred bucks I’ve ever spent, I’ll say.
Because I get to hold you like this. Every night. Every fuckin’ night and even though we’re away from home; away from Allen and Adelia and all the other cool cats down in Greyson Oke’s—I’m home. I’m finally home and it’s more than enough. I’ve got you.
It’s way more than enough.
You snore in your sleep, did you know that? Just kidding. You sound more like a rabbit when you sleep. All little sniffles and soft murmurs and little shifting twitches. I can’t help but laugh a bit each night at that. It’s so you, Sky. It’s so you that it seems im-freakin’-possible.
Oh god, you’d kill me if I ever mentioned it. Hell, maybe I will. I’d like to see that blush hit your cheeks. I’d like to kiss it, hold it, run my calloused fingers across it.
Maybe I’ll mention it, huh?
The summer has been cruel in more ways then one. First off, this damned flat is going to cook us alive. I’ve been sweating and pantin’ like a dog straight through the night—and not for the obvious reasons—I should be on fire with you beside me. I am, on the inside, but it’s a fire I crave. Your body beside my own, sweat slicked in the air. Beneath the sheets.
Sky, you’ve always smelled of spice, tasted of heat and cinnamon. Maybe even pumpkin. You sometimes taste like a sweet ol’ pumpkin’ pie. Like Allen used to make down at the diner.
Or maybe it’s because I just really like pumpkin pie. But I guess you taste better than pumpkin pie, hmm? I guess. ahaha.
You make another soft murmur. I brush your hair back and tuck it behind your ear. I kiss the corner of your lips as you breathe, wanting to capture those little noises in my own breath.
A spicy pumpkin pie, Sky, that’s how ya’ taste. The best kinda’ pie.
Oh god. It must be the heat gettin’ to me. Must be my brain cookin’ beneath these sheets. You draw closer to my neck, snuggle there. Breathe a warm breath there.
It should be too much but I stroke your side and I lean into that touch.
Maybe I’m baked, maybe I’m fuckin’ losin’ it on some crazy love-bug level.
Maybe I’m in love.
That’s it, Sky. I’m in love.
I kiss your temple and you sniffle, you pull me tighter and I laugh a bit then at your rabbit noises.
I’ve always been in love with you, Sky.
And in this heat, with your spice fillin’ the air, with my musk mingling in the sheets and the very esscence’a us clouding the room—I’m not scared of it.
I’m in love.
Would ya’ look at that.
There is a sickness inside me and Dante’s told me that it no longer has to hide.
I’ve been cured, Xeph’. They took me in, broke me, burned me and ignited the sickness. They burned it away and I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so free.
With one needle.
With touches that both hurt and healed.
Touches that tore me from one reality and threw me into the next.
Xephyr why didn’t you ever tell me that this is what I could become…With just a hit of the glow? A hit of the know?
I can hide from mother, hide from her for as long as I want; sometimes I don’t even need to hide. Sometimes she is kind and sometimes her words don’t burn as much.
Sometimes she doesn’t think me as sick.
Sometimes she offers love.
Like the other Graverobbers, like Dante, like Luxuria—they all offer me their love.
Love they say you could never give me properly.
Love they say I had no right to take. To give.
They’ve showed me, through my sickness, what it means to truly love.
Xephyr they’ve cured me.
They cured me but I’m still sick.
I’ve got this whole in my chest, you see?
It’s a big fuckin’ hole, and it’s a mess of stitches and it’s not mine.
This heart, Xeph’-Xeph’, it’s not mine.
My hearts been recycled, burned away in a furnace, or maybe it’s laying at the bottom of a GeneCo. trash bin just rotting.
My heart is fuckin’ gone Xephyr and I’m forced to live off of yours.
I’m forced to live off of a heart that they say was never mine to hold.
I can’t cut it out, ‘cause God knows I’ve tried.
I can’t claim it mine, but at the same time I will.
I will claim it mine because without it I have no fire. I have no fury.
I have no wrath.
I can be reminded of my sickness if this heart still beats.
I can feel the burning in my veins with each unwanted touch, each slip of the needle, each push and each pull.
I can be reminded and I can finally breathe. I can feel. It burns and it scalds, but I can feel.
Xeph’ I can feel again.
Aren’t you proud?
You should be.
Because I feel everything, now.
I feel everything,
but as for you…?
What can I feel anymore?
Tell me, Xeph’.
A pale finger slipped over the bow of my lip, tracing it lightly.
The sensation tickled, it prickled and it burned.
I shoved the touch away after a moment, licking at the stolen sensation and biting gently against my puckered bottom lip beneath the covers that lay tumbled over us.
You’re wrong. This is wrong. You’re fucking sick and you’re fucking wrong.
The shudder you gave at the absence of me did not go unnoticed, I swear.
I feel shame and regret and I feelIfeelIfeel. I should hold you. I should hold you back and touch you and hold you.
But my eyes don’t meet yours because I don’t dare.
I’ve made that mistake and I won’t again.
I’ve made that mistake and I don’t dare.
I simply curl up in my covers and murmur a strained ‘goodnight’.
It’s as pathetic as one could imagine, my voice tired, my voice so soft and for once so fucking tired it pains me to let that word leave.
I’m so sorry.
I should be sorry.
I suppose I am, but something inside won’t let me be. I shut my eyes and breathe against the linen of my sheets, beneath the blankets, against our pillow.
When your arms wrap around me, curl around my waist and pull me closer, I push away. I slowly slide forward, pulling at my sheets with a tight nod of my head. It’s just too late. It’s just too early. The sun is creeping in-between our sheets and it’s too late and it’s too early.
This is sick. This is wrong. You’re so fucking sick and so fucking wrong.
“I love you,” The whisper is tired, like me.
It’s tired like I knew you’d someday become.
“Hey,” Your fingers slide slowly up and over the prominent dips of my spine. I shiver but no longer have the will to move. Your voice is tired like I knew you’d someday become. But then you change. You pull gently at my shoulder and lift the blanket from my face. Sunlight spills across my body and the effect is blinding but welcomed at the same time.
Your hair is even more golden this way, falling in soft springs in the impossible hues that leave amber slits upon your tawny skin in the light. I smile against even my own will and shrug the words away.
“Did you hear me?” Your arm stretches over me and your leaning against my hips with your hips and I blink but it’s not enough. There’s not enough time. Your voice is soft and it stops the time.
“I’m scared.” I whisper and I know the sound is barely audible. I shift against the sheets and lay my head back, staring up to the headboard. My words are my own but they don’t settle quite right. “Real scared.”
”Me too. But I’ll protect you, okay? I can, Jude…” I laugh at that and I know it’s cruel but you tap my hip with your index, letting me know you’ve ignored it once again. Ignored my doubt.
“On one condition.” And that’s new. You’ve never asked.
“What condition?” The words are quick, curious, definitely not of my own.
You take a deep breath, it could have been a sigh, but you look relieved. I know you’re relieved. I know—because I know you.
“Do you love me?”
“Yes.” I’ve barely given you time to blink. I barely breathe.
Of course I do.
Of course I do.
But somehow I feel like I simply do because we’re here together.
In this bed, bound by blankets and linen and lines.
I love you because I do.
It’s just something I do.
Something I’ve done and will do.
“Then let me.”
“Let you what?”
Another bit of laughter leaves my lips; soft, blinded by your golden curls and the slits of amber still tattooed on your skin.
“Protect me first.” I murmur and pull your arms over me as I turn away once more, leaning back into your chest as your heartbeat slides between my shoulder blades; focusing on the day that awaits us beyond your window.
I love you.
Of course I do.
I always have.
But for right now let me remain hollow.
Let me be reminded of all the things no one had the guts or the gall to remind you.
That I’m so sick
and so wrong.
Let me remain hollow.
Let me remain reminded.
And in return I’ll show you love.
I’ll show you, that yes; of course—Of course I do.
It wasn’t about the job.
Wasn’t about whether or not I could do it after he…well, after the Batman gave his final curtain call.
It wasn’t about whether or not I’d seen enough for my time of bein’ a Cop or a short-lived Detective.
I was done.
I’d outgrown the glove that had been given to me and that’s all there was too it.
I’d put my faith in a shadow, the shadow of a man so many had given up on, and guess what? It payed off. He’d come back, he’d defended and defeated.
In some way, that changed me.
Having him back and watching him rise up equaled out to one hell of a wake up call in my opinion.
It should have been for everyone’s sake, maybe it was. The Batman had been back. He’d gotten his title, his fame…He’d have gotten so much more had everyone just known.
He’d have been more to them. More than just a broken man.
A broken man, many would have called him had they known his true identity.
A broken man was the Bruce Wayne I’d interviewed the very first time the base of the city began to crumble into ruins beneath the sewer lines.
But what he had, what he is and was—it ain’t broken no more.
It’s whole and in a way it’s still shattered, his absence and his loss?
It’ll always be felt here in Gotham.
It’ll remain here.
It will remain in me.
Just let me say one thing:
I’ve had enough.
You’re selfish and sorry,
you’ll never learn how to love.
As your world disassembles,
better keep you head up.
Your name, your face…
Is all you have left now
You’ve been erased.
Bruises bound his wrists and ankles as he slumped down to his knees. The cold of the cell room floor was a comfort to the heat radiating beneath his surface as the sharp bone of his knees bit into the stone.
Metal anklets chained him to the wall at his bare back, the sterling silver of the newly furnished cuffed links now bit sharply into his ivory flesh with the protest of days confinement; the colour of his flawless canvass’ surface, milk white and translucent, rippled as his constricted limbs protested. Delicate spindling lines of crimson and plum ran along his ribs with every breath. Locks of ebony hung loosely at his jaw, the cypress hues of his eyes were bound and hidden like the breath beneath the muzzle that held his tongue in place.
His fingers were calloused as he clenched and unclenched his fists within the chains, but in the state of shock his body seemed to be in—he remained. His grace, his beauty, it all held itself together.
A finger ran itself over the nape of his neck but he refused to acknowledge it. The bolt on his jaw tightened at the close, causing blood to trickle in from the corner of his mouth. He would have welcomed the taste, the metallic tinge, but his tongue could not reach up from its holding to lap up the silent stream. So he sufficed in silence, a growing smirk flickering beneath the shadows cast in his muzzle.
More clicks, grinding pressure that bit deep into his bone, then finally: release. The heavy bracings that held his lips pursed in his own fermented fury slipped from his palette. The raven haired teen stood knelt before his other for a moment. His breath was shallow, deepening as he licked the sweat from his upper lip, smearing a sheer coat of red across his cupids bow.
”This is not the end, Brother.” The voice promised, deep and golden and light. Hopeful. The voice, through the humiliation that was to be witnessed within the ivory fleshed, ebony crowned man before him—was still so hopeful.
A sickening twist jutted against his gut as he still lay in his chains on his knees. The golden voice brought a single finger against the small jagged cut that lay at his others reddened lips, only a moment ago confined to a muzzled cage.
”You’re right,” The words were whispered through a veil of dark locks, invading and dissecting the hope that rang in the others words as they hung about the cell. The chains barely registered sound as his knees removed themselves from their ground standing, the ivory skin and cypress hues but a synchronized blur as his colours shot forward—surrounded still—by a veil of midnight.
He was inches from the one with golden voice, the golden hair and skin surely born of summers brightest light. Evergreen pools darkened upon glancing into ones of a winter glacier. Reddened lips stiffened to a line, jaw tilting to bring his own face closer as his bruised limbs strained against his chains. The dark haired teens voice was sultry and soft as he spoke, breath carrying his words like nothing more than false whispered wants on the wind that broke between both men. His pale body writhed, shoulders rolling back in slight with the new movements. A smile crossed those broken lips, eyes remaining hard as the perk of his brow raised to defy and doubt as he let his own lips fall across his others ear, breath hissed as his final words left him.
”It’s just the beginning.”
Raven locks fell like a veil once more and those bloodied, broken lips ceased to speak.
The chains were silenced as he knelt back upon the floor and even the one with the golden voice and words of hope could not deny him that.
Sometimes I don’t think I’m meant for love at all.
I do not love easily, and when I do, I can’t help but feel forced.
It’s doubt, surely, many have said; but in the end I end up hurting others more than I myself hurt.
Is that wrong? My indifference? My lack of emotion and control to be controlled.
Even with my ex-boyfriend (Ex for a reason, and yet I find myself not able to care less) my indifference, my lack of affection, my complete and total un-willingness to care simply…won.
And it didn’t bother me, oddly.
I was relieved.
To not have someone to depend on,
to not have someone to depend on me for any kind of affection or relationship or love—that was beautiful. It was a relief.
And yes it hurt him because in the end I was not hurt.
Yes, it angered me to think that anyone should have expected me to hurt over something so small. So insignificant. That anyone, especially a boy, should have wanted me to hurt at all.
I am not one to show affection well. It’s not my fault. It’s not my fault.
I am not one to want so publicly from others, I can barely find the strength to want within myself.
I do not hurt for a reason. I hurt only for those I truly care about, and they are the few, the rare.
They are my heroes and my heroin and immortals in my mind and they never have to justify themselves against anything in my mind; they simply are and they will be and I love them.
So no, I don’t think I’m meant for love at all,
but I’ll give it. I’ll show it in short caricatured bursts.
And to those who mean the most, I’ll try. I meant it I will.
But as for my purpose within it…I just don’t know.
I feel misplaced when I try to love by any definition of affection.
I feel like I’m in a constant circle or motions, masked behind a façade I’ve been wearing most of my life. Masked behind a mirrored definition of love.
I’m not meant for love,
I am meant for this mask.
But I am content.
It is one hell of a costume.
The weight of his brothers palm pressed up against the curve of his throat was enough to warrant a shiver throughout the tricksters body. A subtle jolt, it was, not that of arousal or fear; but of connection and compassion.
Of sorrow and envy.
And when his brothers grip tightens in the slightest, his smile faltering for a moment as they linger on his, Loki feels himself slipping. Falling. Falling from his grace, should he have ever been blessed with it.
He hid it well then, beneath a shy, coy smile; meeting the eyes of his other, his brother, with no hesitation. It was so easy for Loki: being the younger, the lesser expected of the two brothers. No one questioned him in truth, no one truly bothered to pay the smaller teen mind. He’d learned that feigning interest was key. To pretend and put on a show was essential. To draw attention to yourself was forbidden.
Every rule he’d coveted for himself, for his own protection and convenience, did not apply to Thor however.
Thor did not have rules.
Thor did not have to follow and feign and pretend. He was a son of Odin—the first born.
But what of Loki? The second son. Loki was but a shadow when compared to the light that was Thor. Even now, in his own eyes as he stood before his brother in the luminescent lighted hall before the Coronation that would brand the brothers two titles forever apart; he too could see at least that was truth. Loki was the second son, second best…but he was nobody’s fool. Not even his own.
The realization never quite sunk in fully for Loki, admittedly. It—his reputation among Asgard—was not a thought he pondered on for long less the seething begin and his mood be ruined. His natural-born talent for the arts of deception did not go unnoticed by even himself, and definitely did gain the attention of all those who looked upon him.
And so the names had started young. Started as loud shouted taunting in the courtyard and usually ended in a scuffle or two. Loki remembers those days now, how they surrounded him first in the time when his magic showed true and raw. He was only five then. Thor, being of seven, was already well into his arranged studies and had built up his own little reputation as the golden, promised, first born of Odin. The would-be-Warrior. The Promised Prince.
But Loki…? He was darker in comparison, and not just by sight of his raven locks. Thor’s’ body was golden, bronzed, burly and built. Loki was lithe and slender, with pale, velvety skin as white as the moons face and all the forth-comings of a serpents grace. His eyes were, even as a child, older. For one so young he held much beyond his years for his time and his indifference to the other children—his stoic calm—was off-putting to most. His magic scared the others, enticed them for reasons so wrong, deemed him different; and that was his downfall. His difference.
Loki took to his studies early in his childhood, while Thor on the other hand took years to get anything down. He valued books and could often be found curled up in a chair like a content little cat down in the library or study, Thor: weapons were his calling, the sparring field his feast. Loki was quiet, stoic in nature, polite and rarely ever raised his voice even when angered. Thor was loud, unabashed, haughty and hot tempered at all hours of the day, and he could rarely last five seconds without throwing out a comment that he (and sometimes Loki included) would likely regret.
Loki learned the meaning of the word well in years to pass.
Mainly he learned to compare and contrast himself between his brother.
They were different, they were balanced; two sides of the same coin.
Each brother carrying attributes the other simply needed to thrive.
But the differences also gained Loki his title. His titles, rather.
And for once he was no longer just the second son.
He was Loki:
The timid trickster.
The daring doer of deceit and wielder of magic.
Because of his magic that deemed him so.
How unfair it was, but he accepted it.
Thor defended him, kept the whispers to a minimum—even stopped them for a while—but Loki had embedded their words into memory.
He could never forget. Not even Thor, through soothing simple words and promised punishments could change that.
His brothers smile was honest, open, eager and…perfect. The timid trickster leaned against the touch slightly, showing his affection. Thor’s smile was perfect, and Loki wanted to tear it from its place.
Wanted to wear it, to feel it. Loki wanted happiness for himself for once—just once—and he wanted this title, this Coronation: in his name. Was it too much to ask? Years of having been jaded, been left to the duty of assuring his big brothers happiness above his own…Could he, for once, not be happy for his brother?
He was Loki.
He was dutiful, and he was to be loyal in the eyes of Thor.
This was Thor.
This was his brother.
”Now give us a kiss.” The trickster encourages with a tilt of his head. His voice is slow, murmured in an affectionate fashion; purred in that feline fancy of his. The younger brothers eyes flash back to his others, a bright cypress green in the low lighting of the golden halls. There is happiness there within his hues, of course. There has to be.
He is is Loki.
For Thor, he must be loyal.
”Stop!” Thor’s playful voice chastises his younger half with a small point of his finger. The subtle smile lingering on his lip brightens, pearl white canines flashing from beneath a strong, defined cupids bow. There is no hesitation as his eyes scan his others, missing the obvious signs of distress in his darker half.
It is one of the traits Loki has always admired about his brother. Admired and pitied. His accepting nature. His ignorance.
Thor pulls his palm away from Loki’s throat and there is an emptiness there in its wake. Loki lets his smile falter in the slightest at the lost contact, but for only a moment. Just one.
Loki must remain Loyal, for this is Thor.
But Loki is a trickster,
Or so the children have said and Thor has denied, over and over, grinding and embedding the images and chants that now sit in the mainstream of Loki’s fragile mind.
Yes, he is a trickster.
A wielder of magic and deception and deceit.
The young Sly Silver-tongue in the flesh.
But he is also Loki.
The second son.
The would-be King.
And this is Thor’s big day.
Frost Giants lay in wait,
and the Coronation is to begin.
Loki shakes his head in slow with a small grin saved only for the private company of his brother. He flicks his glance back to where the ladies and Gentleman wait, with mother and the All-Father in turn.
”Let us not keep a good crowd waiting, then?” He extends a hand to the hall before Thor, lighting the way with a flicker of emerald light that spreads from his slender fingertips. “They’re waiting,” He gives an exaggerated bow, loving smile strained on his pale lips. “For their King.”