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mythril air had never tasted so bitter.
he returns the next evening, slipping away from the warmth of his brother's side to face the cold. the dropping temperatures do nothing to deter him, who grew up in colder weather than this, who feels numb from overwhelming emotion, who is determined to find a trace of his love at the spot that had left him reeling.
but he finds nothing but a cigarette stubbed out on the ground, and he doesn't remember if it was from the night before.
so loukas returns the next night, and the night after, and the night after that, until he quickly loses track of the days and the nights. rhett appears a couple of hours later each time, drawing him into an understanding hug and coaxing him back home. loukas gives in each time, but always looks back as he's led away, eyes wide, hopeful, then stinging from tears.
he's sure he's finally lost his mind.
hallucinations were no stranger to him, and even less so were the ones of a figure he thought dead. he's felt the ghost of a kiss to the back of his neck whilst stood at the wheel of his ship, woken up to the ghost in his bed and disappearing when he reaches out, and heard a question from the ghost himself and responded without realising, only to be met with silence. always, he said i love you to the air, filled with a desperate hope that he might be heard. if this was a illusion, he thinks he might ...
loukas breathes in a deep, shuddery breath and squeezes his eyes shut, and continues twisting his dagger around in his hands and reading the runes he's read a million times over. he'll wait here, at the spot he saw the ghost, until something happens; he'll wait until the end of time if he has to.
// kester grayson
when your #aesthetic is apparently sad men hunched over on a bench
he avoids the spot as though it has been marked with a red cross -- once upon a time, that sign would mark houses of the plague. kester is afraid; he cannot bear the look in loukas' eyes, the way he was pleading for kester to not leave. kester has never doubted his strength before, but he does not believe that he has the strength to turn loukas away again. all he wishes is for the distance to be kept for just long enough for his wizard to grow bored of mythril, to move on to the next city.
then it hits.
kester is left a pile of sticky notes and a pen on his bedside table when he awakes, a note that says he is to label anything he wishes to bring. for a while, he busies himself with the task. his dragon sculpted chest is marked, his table that he uses for drawing and writing -- days pass in this fashion of living and marking. the guilt builds as he looks over the letters he'd never sent, and then in a moment of heady impulse it is decided. he cannot leave without saying goodbye, has barely even dared to watch from afar.
when he grabs his bag he is careful to grab a LETTER, and then he is off. the wizard can take his absence for a few hours, he's given the man so much of himself already. the fear still settles in his stomach that he is being watched, but he bats it away.
three times he nearly turns away. the first is at the half way point, right by the deli, and he thinks that maybe loukas would simply be better without the goodbye. maybe loukas would be better off believing that their encounter was simple an illusion. the second time he thinks that he can't handle the encounter, that loukas will magically make his resolution wither away and with a glance of those soft blue eyes he will crumble. he is doomed to fail under loukas' gaze.
the third time is when he sees the man hunched over a bench as though all the weight of the world is on his shoulders, and it is all kester can do is to stare. he thinks it ironic that he, of all people, would fall in love with atlas himself.
he takes a deep breath, focuses on placing one foot in front of the other, and approaches the bench. "loukas." his voice is breathy, as though possessed by some other man in a world that is light years away. he looks down with a deep frown, eyebrows furrowed. "we need to talk."
he thinks: the last time he introduced a conversation with that statement, he had moved to england.
the last time he introduced a conversation with that statement, he had led himself to his death.
&loukas frey. always finding a way to bring that dank letter in. it's the last in the collection. love u.
his name, uttered with a sigh more akin to pain than relief. for a moment, loukas thinks it the voice of his brother, come to lead him away, unable to speak more, but with a presence enough to provide comfort.
then it sinks in.
loukas is quick to his feet, sliding the dagger into its sheath in the span of a second, his heart quickening, fluttering, as his eyes focus in on the face of the figure before him. he sees the ghost, he can smell their scent on the air, he can hear their voice - but his senses have lied to him before. yet it does nothing to stop the softness of his gaze, his lips partially parted, his eyes slightly wide, as he takes in the figure before him. then, he breathes out, "kit."
bittersweet, full of relief yet combined with sadness, pain, fear. loukas's face begins to fall, his gaze trailing to the side, downwards, lingering on the empty space next to kester. his words have sunk in, giving rise to the last time he heard them. loukas touches his lower lip with his teeth, toiling with himself, his thoughts, now relentlessly coming - why now, why now, why?
he breathes in, the process shaky, and shakier still as he exhales.
quiet, like snow -
"first you want nothing to do with me, and now, you're..." a half-gesture to the space between them, heavy, threatening to drop back down, "here."
his voice shakes with the last word, almost choked out as his body begins to fail. breath ragged, tears pricking at his eyes, weakness in his bones, loukas drags his body to the bench, where he collapses with heaviness, hunched over again, head held in his hands as he fights to stay calm, fights to not cry, a losing battle from the moment kester spoke his name. his thoughts, endless still, questioning, filled with disbelief, confusion, fear. he wants to understand, wants to-
wants this to not be happening.
he doesn't know how much more he can take.
// kester grayson
loukas just can't any more
in one word his heart shatters. it's pathetic, really.
he'd heard the word uttered more times than he can count. with salt in the air, bodies tangled in a multitude of beds, in the embrace before journeys separated. he'd heard the word in his sleep, in his memories, wished to hear it in the present oh so many times.
and here is: standing in front of the man he's begged decades of safety for and it is uttered only in sadness. pain. so he looks away for a moment, takes a breath, and rebuilds his facade before it crumbles away. he cannot afford to be weak in this moment.
he doesn't know what to do as he watches loukas crumple in on himself, the weight of reality crushing everything he holds dear. that is wrong: kester knows precisely what to do to make loukas feel better. he knows that a hand rested on loukas' shoulder would relieve the weight there; he knows that his arms around the other's chest would spark a forestfire of happiness.
hope. so much hope.
"that is not... entirely true."
he wants so much to do with loukas. he wants to spend the rest of his natural born life with the man, to regain all the time lost between the stockades and the alleyway. he would do anything in the world if he thought those dreams were possible.
they aren't, and so he settles beside loukas with the presence of a phantom, notably keeping his hands to himself.
"i was never able to say goodbye." his voice cracks on the final word, he curses inwardly, but he soldiers on. "and it would be unfair to leave you in this town wondering if i'm still roaming around somewhere. i cannot fathom the pain it would cause to leave you wondering if we would ever meet again." he has found a new strength, can only allow the words to continue steamrolling right on out of his mouth and into loukas' lap.
"that is why i am here. i owe you a goodbye." a pause. he lets what he said sink in.
he lets himself process the gravity of it all.
he will never make such a mistake again.
"i am to leave in a few days. mythril has outlived its relevancy for us." but there it is: a greivious mistake. us. kester catches it the moment it falls, is quick to raise himself to replacing it with an immediate: "me."
&loukas frey. song.