the body sleeping next to me
rating: +12+x

CW: Alcohol mention, violence.

It started like this:

You two were wolves. Anya was the clever one and the cruel one. You were the strong one, the stalwart one. When you found the blades and the pack of madmen found you, you both laughed at their ultimatum. Forget about it or die.

"How about you forget about it or die?" Anya said, and you'd sneered, showing teeth, knowing with a sickness that there was no going back to the easy times, when the two of you hunted for nothing more than cheap thrills and pocket change, but now you'd taken a side in a war.

You'd lost the fight, but they'd taken you in nonetheless. Under their wings. But you didn't need to fly.

The world of the bizarre, the unnatural, and the twisted came easy. You cracked bones and cut throats, her by your side, and you never lost your prey. Not when she was at your back. You celebrated your sickening victories, unhooking her bra with the burn of alcohol in your throat. You called yourself a monster, and you took pride in it, never giving up the hunt.

Until you did.

Until you met another monster, one that fought tooth and nail to protect a useless piece of shit, who'd passed out at the sight of blood. This monster, Quetz, matched you blow for blow, nearly killing you with no hesitation, and when Anya came to save you, like she always did, she'd killed the weakling, like she always did.

And that was when you'd lost your arm. That was when the seed of guilt was planted, and that seed of guilt grew into a vine that strangled your heart. It made you weak.

You ran, but before you did, you asked her to come with you, that you’d found a place where you could be home. She said she was your home.

You found Quetz again, among shelves of forbidden tomes, cursed and blessed alike.

You found them again, and when they kissed you so easily, that guilt constricted so tight you couldn't breathe. It wasn’t that you’d killed, tortured, and maimed in the name of your misguided, teenage-rebellion-fueled view of the world, supported by a bunch of Madmen. It was that you left without Anya.

When you were a wolf, Anya kissed like you were the first and the last. She'd kissed you softly, melting into your arms, but with titanium in her bones and blood on her hands. Blood you’d spilled because she’d asked.

As you became a serpent, they tasted like the sky. There was wind in their hands as they flitted across your body, touching your gears with as deft a movement as they touched your thighs. They wore no makeup or contact lenses, but their lips were jade green, and their eyes were golden.

When you'd last seen Anya, she had two pupils in her right eye, both of them red.

When you woke up in Quetz’s bed that morning, you cried as they kissed the salty tears off your cheeks. You said you still loved her.

“I know,” they said, twisting a ring on a long golden chain around their neck. They were naked otherwise, their large body sprawled across their bed and yours curled up. “Me too.”

“But she’s a monster.”

“Love doesn’t give a shit about your ethics,” they said and pulled you in for more.

They never said who they still loved, and you never asked. And they never asked about your her.

You saw Anya again, and it didn’t matter how many innocent people you’d seen her kill, helped her kill. At that run down bar in that big city in a distant country where she was the only one who spoke your language, you drunk together freely and acted as if nothing was the matter, like you weren’t Hand and she wasn't still Insurgency. She wore that leather jacket, the same one you stole for her from that tiny vintage shop in Venice, and she ordered for you both, speaking German fluently.

When you passed out too quickly, you were almost relieved because that meant she didn’t still love you too. That it was a lie.

Anya still bit when she kissed. You still kissed her back, even as the haze of unconsciousness pulled you under.

You nearly died that night, not even by Anya’s hands but with her cold approval. She didn’t hold the knife that cut you, but she gave the orders. That should’ve made you stop loving her.

You should've stopped loving her.

Quetz saved your life, and you love them too. You murmured their name as they wrapped your wounds in their shirt. They didn’t know how to heal, and you didn’t know either. All either of you knew was how to hurt, them with their wind and you with your thorns.

It’s like this:

You stand in front of a mirror, tracing your latest scars with your metal fingers. They’re cold against your hot skin. The wound is closed, cauterized by Kate’s magic, but you can feel where your lover tore your flesh apart. She’s a monster in her body and in her mind.

She’s never coming with you. You’ve known this all along.

You don’t think you even want her here. Because to bring her out of the dark would mean losing the harshness of her touch, the way she digs her hands into your pockets, seductively stealing your knives, your seeds, your mind. There’s a longing for her knife against your neck, daring her to cut and end it for good.

It’s not good for you, and it’s not good for her.

You are the snakes biting your own tails.

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