"We were gods once," Loki says in a whisper meant for shadows and starlight. His eyes are blown so wide, the vivid green has faded to asphalt black and shining like tar. His hands are shaking, skin moon-white, and breath escaping his lips in trembling puffs of smoke in the cold.
"We were," he says, because he can't disagree; he remembers too, but maybe not as much as him.
He remembers the scent of metal and fire and smoke, of whiskey and cigarettes, cologne and champagne; he remembers extravagant parties, crystal-clear smiles that clouded with jealousy and want, always trying and vying for his favor. He was a god among men in many ways, he remembered.
He traced the lines marking his lover's arms, birthmarks (remnants), that looked like ancient glyphs carved into his skin. Flesh memories, of lives they once lived.
Loki shivers under his touch and Tony grabs his hand, squeezes tight and erases the space between their bodies with his other arm snaking around Loki's shoulders, bringing the slender young man's body half upon his own.
The rooftop is their escape from everything but their memories. Quietly he wonders if the others, the ones they see in those memories, remember as they do. He wonders every night, after every dream or nightmare. He wonders if they'll escape these tragic visions, and wonders if it will tear them apart.
"We'll be gods again. in the next life." His words are soft against Loki's temple and he feels Loki smile against his collarbone, feels lips press the same place with a kiss. "We'll be gods together, and live forever."
He seals the promise with a kiss, with gentle, callous hands tracing equations and star maps across Loki's back, into his flesh. He wants to erase the pasts they haven't lived together, because the past doesn't matter when the future sounds better.
Tony was born with a sun on his chest. Above his sternum and below his clavicle, the flesh of his birthmark was almost a perfect circle if it weren't for the jagged points reaching out from it. Sometimes, he thinks he can feel it hurt, a cold kind of pain, a phantom pain that rushed in his veins and made his heart erratic. Tony was also born with a weak heart, but he never told Loki that.
He remembers his mother told him the scar meant he had a strong heart, as if in a past life, his ribs couldn't contain the beauty of it, like it tried to burst from his chest. His father never said a word, nor did he allow Tony to wear his shirts open very often, or low collars, or v-necks. His father didn't let him do a lot of things, and somehow that reminded him of old memories, giving him odd aches for aged alcohol and a longing to tinker to keep his hands distracted.
Tony remembers the first time Loki saw the mark. It was six months after they found each other. He remembers wide, beautiful green eyes drinking in the sight, skeletal hands reaching out to frame and trace the pale-pink skin reminiscent of a burn.
He remembers the way Loki's eyes brightened and the way his lips curved in a smile, and the way he kissed the scar; Loki littered kisses all over it and his eyes were shining with a wetness Tony wasn't sure how to react to.
"I remember this." Loki whispered, "I remember a bright blue circle of light and metal, embedded here..." Loki kissed it again, "I remember it kept your heart beating..."
Tony remembered too, and he remembered how it came to be, but he didn't tell Loki that. He remembered the pain, the fear, the terrifying solitude and bitter isolation; deserts and men and weapons. He didn't like to think on the bad memories, but some days, during his worst hours, they haunted him as they did his past life.
He carried the burden quietly now, if only to make his fears subside in favor of chasing Loki's demons away instead.
He's an atheist, through and through. He doesn't believe in gods, he doesn't believe in dogmas, or religions. He thinks the bible is a great work of fiction, good for silly bedtime stories. There's a sense of desperation in every religion he's studied. It was dangerous, even. Desperation made people dangerous.
I am a god. In another life.
Laying in bed, Loki wasn't alone, he was rarely alone. Beside him, Tony slept peacefully, or as peacefully as he could between trembling fits, panting and gasping; in his sleep, Tony dreamed violently. But so did he. Cold sweats, violent mood swingsー he could be vicious when he wasn't in the right mind.
Just like before. But unlike before, he didn't have someone to save him.
He remembers falling in an alien and unknown darkness, caused by his own foolish ideas and hopeless sense of love and loyalty to a family who lied to him most of his existence. Yes, he remembers it all. Part of him wonders if that's made him worse, or if he's happier knowing what (who) he used to be. It's a toss-up, really. He was grateful to these memories for bringing him to Tony, because Tony understood.
They spoke often of searching for the others, wondering if maybe the so-called brother Loki once had, existed here with them. Something in the hesitation of Tony's words gave away that the other man didn't think so. A part of him thought the same. Perhaps they were alone, and meant to find each other only. A part of him didn't mind that.
Some days he remembers horrors from those memories. A black universe, a foreign dimension; where nothing made sense, and organic structures hung transient in the depths of darkness. He felt terror, and he felt fear, and he felt alone (but never truly lonely). Those nights, he woke screaming from the dreams, in languages he didn't know his tongue could speak and then Tony was there, holding him down, holding him close. Tony whispered affections like prayers against his skin, sweet and soothing and all-knowing.
While the memories threaten to overwhelm him, and the ghost of a former life threatens to consume him; he still believes he can be saved. He knows Tony is there and Tony is the same (they feel the same), they will survive.
"We'll be gods together and live forever."
He's an atheist to the bone, and he doesn't believe in gods, but he still believes in magic, and he believes in this, and he believes in Tony.
The point of impact spiders the glass and his reflection is distorted, warped, and broken. In his reflection, he's watching disjointed streams of red trail sluggishly down his arm from knuckles sliced open by a reflex-reaction to destroy something beautiful, and instead he's mesmerized by the beauty of broken glass and his own blood. He's entranced like a curious child crushing snails on a wet sidewalk as their shells crack and shatter and their bodies are left defenseless for a split second before the inevitable shoe drops.
He's curious because he wonders what it's like to make gods bleed. When gods bleed, the people lose faith, and maybe he's losing faith in himself to tell the difference between what is real and what is a memory; and you know, the only real difference is he wasn't born with an organic kind of power coursing through his veins as thick and heady as blood.
Maybe he's obsessed and maybe this is a test, and maybe he's dreaming. Maybe this life is a prison and he's a sinner for trying to take over a world fraught with chaos and destruction and never-ending cycles that look like the waltz of repetitive history.
1-2-3, 1-2-3, and spin, and smile, and kiss your lover now; because the world is ending and this is your last chance.
ーand my heart is a hollow place, for the devil to dance againー
Every shot of whiskey was another amber bullet to his liver, burning its way through his throat, and his innards, and straight to yet another organ that apparently needed more damage (just like the rest of him, obviously).
One after another; shot after shot, burn after burn.
He was trying to escape and it was always more than one thing he was running from. The face in his mind was familiar, but it was older, and it was paler, and sharper, aged by a millennia of existence that showed only in piercing emerald eyes and knife-like smiles. He loved those eyes, but they were different than the ones he knew so intimately. He knew that look though.
Sometimes when Loki was quiet, when Loki was drifting off and his eyes were wide and his lips parted just enough for slivers of air to dance between them; sometimes Loki looked like a statue and sometimes Loki looked like a work of artーtoo perfect to be real, too beautiful to be wrapped around him beneath the sheets.
Making love translated into making war between the sheets, or on the floor, or over the couch, or on top the counter. It was biting and harsh and cruel and so fucking beautiful to see Loki glow like a supernova beneath him. With hands laced together tight enough to break skin with sharp crescents, and bruise lips with kisses, and bodies locked together so thoroughly they felt as one; this is when they felt alive, and this is when they felt like enemies, and this is when they felt like lovers.
Open and exposed and raw, it all came flooding back in a rush; their skin and scars and so-called birthmarks flushed bright and emphasized by hours of brutality. The memories would engulf them and they would let it happen, and they'd love like killers were meant to love.
"We'll be gods together and live forever."
It was a fragile hour, coming down from this high, this adrenaline. Tony felt his heart beating much too fast and Loki felt his lungs screaming, and they both felt the raw, shredding ache in their throats from theirs cries and their pain. It hurt to speak, so speaking was a cardinal sin against the quiet that tried to ease their deadly hearts.
Tony remembers glass, and metal, and alcohol, and the rush of brilliance that came with a trademark insanity. Loki remembers ice, and silver-tongued innocence, and soul-shattering darkness. Intensive care for them meant pressing together and whispering their names and their truths and their anchors.
Recovery meant remembering the here and now was the truth, and their hearts were traitorous, and their souls were tied, and this was the second chance they always wanted.
If love is a labor, I'll slave till the end.
Side by side on a hospital bed they lay, while Loki hums a melody and Tony dozes beside him. It's confession time: Tony has a weak heart, and he didn't think Loki ever knew (here's another confession: Loki always knows). He might be dying, he might have one foot out of the door already, and he might be holding on. He's fighting in his own way (because obviously Tony fucking Stark enjoys screwing with death just a little too much; after all, he's a Starkーin another life).
Loki's voice vibrates in his chest, soft and deep and warm, and where Tony's head rests, he can feel it. The melody is foreign, but familiar somehow, and nostalgic even. Tony doesn't ask because he wants to keep listening, he needs to keep listening. It gives his mind something to focus on, while his body clock synchronizes with Loki's and slowly but surely he realizes their hearts are beating together. Their hands are laced together, and Loki's tracing his veins (made all the more apparent through paper-pale skin, the tiny layers just as thin), and he swears he feels Loki's lips moving, saying words without a sound and he wonders if Loki's praying.
"We fell in love when we were complete strangers." Loki spoke up, like he knew Tony was thinking of his voice again (remember: Loki always knows), "When did that happen again, when did we become strangers again, love."
Tony laughs, hoarse and weak, "We're not strangers, baby. We never were."
Loki turns his head and their faces are really close then and Tony's still smiling that million-dollar smile with eyes the color of chocolate kisses and sparked with patented daredevil fire. Loki thinks Tony looks like some sort of angel (not one of those little creepy babies singing some invisible old fucker's praises to the skies, fuck no), fallen and battered and bruised, but undefeated, unbroken; a kind of avenging angel that will defy everything just for the sake of it.
And Loki thinks of a song, and the song plays in his mind as Tony keeps smiling (just for him, only for him);
No angel's smile comes without the wrath of God (then again, Loki doesn't believe in God).
By the hands of fate, he who inherits the dream is witness to sin and loyalty.
It is perhaps a damning thing to love someone based off dreams alone, to base all of your assumptions of them on something you only encountered in a suspended state of sleep where your mind provided you with fuzzy details and warped perceptions. But is it really so wrong when the dreams brought you together, giving you a chance to truly know one another? Loki wonders this as he lays beside Tony in the hospital bed. A part of him doesn't care about that, the only thing he cares about is Tony and how Tony is so a part of him, the other half of him, the missing pieces of his soul all fleshed out into this one terrifying, insane, beautiful, stupid, genius of a man.
They were young in age, but they were old souls. Reunited for one purpose or another, they don't know, they haven't figured it out entirely. Loki believes this is a second chance, the one they never got in the lives they dreamt of. When he closed his eyes, the dreams came flooding back into the forefront of his mind like bitter memories, showing battles and blood and pain and sacrifice. The lives they lived before, the lives they lost, they never had a chance.
He could feel it sometimes, those old phantom pains and it scared him, and it always happened when he least expected it and least needed it to happen, and oh yes, was it terrifying to feel like his soul was being ripped out of his very body, to feel like his heart was getting crushed by some invisible grip. It was even more so, when he'd find out later Tony felt the same thing, the same pull and the same pain, all at the same time as he.
Despite it all, he loved the connection to Tony. Bone-deep, soul-deep, feeling it like another voice in their heads or another heart in their chests. Dreams are dangerous, Tony once joked, and he agreed, but he couldn't care less because dreams brought them together.
Loki lifts his hand to rest it over Tony's heart and he smiles to himself when he feels the beating organ flutter almost dangerously at his touch alone, and it was comforting in a way it shouldn't have been because he knows Tony's heart is a precious thing, so beautiful and lovely and always on the verge of stopping. He knows it's a remnant of a life before, and it makes his own heart sick, and his heart is always trying to claw its way out of his chest to escape the field of glass and splintered wood filling his insides because it found a new sanctuary in Tony's chest. Some days he feels like an old house of mirrors, where every piece and shard and broken frame is a remnant of all he used to be, couldn't be, and should have been.
Then he looks at the man beside him and he's reminded how, no matter lives they had before, this is the life that matters most, because the past can't even hold a candle to the beauty of right now. He doesn't care about the future so long as the future keeps them together.
It's little things, and stupid things, and silly things, and crazy things, that keeps him here. Right here, laying with his head on Tony's shoulder and his hand protecting Tony's heart.