~Sophia, please guide me. I will destroy all false pretenses of love… for you.~
This was as far from love as one could get.
The altar was hard beneath Krelian’s back and Grahf’s - Lacan’s - armor was smooth and cool beneath his touch. The angel statues were above them, and Krelian tried to use them as his focus. It was difficult as every time he tried, Lacan’s sharp thrusts brought the scene back into clear, almost painful focus.
"With me, Krelian! Be here with me!”
Krelian’s hand moved up to trail through Lacan’s hair, pulling out the tie, pulling the former painter’s hair in the process if the hiss of breath was anything to go by.
Red, Krelian thought. When did your hair turn red, Lacan? He seriously doubted it was a trick of the light from the fire outside.
The city is burning. Nisan is burning. He started the fire, and I’m doing nothing to stop it. And she would hate us both.
The thought brought the reality of what he was doing into painful, almost too-clear focus. The fire, the altar, the statues, Lacan, the sex. It was too much. Far too much. And climax surged over Krelian, surprising him when it did.
In a way, he supposed that a sexual release of tension was still a release. And Krelian thought that tense wasn’t a strong enough word to describe the strain that he’d been under since Sophia died. He didn’t think that there was a word for that.
Lacan’s climax brought Krelian back to the present. To the moment. To the altar. While the city - the city that she had died for - burned around them. For a few moments, the only sound was their breathing. Then Krelian shifted beneath Lacan.
The Seeker of Power got up then. Zipped his pants. Thanks to the nanomachine treatments, everything seemed enhanced right now.
"Why do you care about this world, Krelian?" Lacan asked. "This world, and everyone in it, failed her.”
Krelian slowly sat up. He saw Lacan looking up. Up at the Angel statues.
"Perhaps. Or perhaps it was God that failed her. Or perhaps it was us," Krelian said in reply.
"No!" Lacan snarled. "Even if I did, even if we did, I am stronger now. I made Contact. So when she is reborn, I will not fail her again!”
Krelian slowly got off the altar, back to his feet. He adjusted his clothes. Now, there was no evidence of what had happened between them.
"How are you going to protect her if she is dead?” Krelian asked.
"I don’t expect you to understand," Lacan spat.
"Funny. That sounds like something I should be saying to you, Lacan. So… what now? You let your pets destroy the world in the hopes of possibly protecting Sophia on the day when you claim that she will allegedly be reborn?” Krelian asked scathingly.
Lacan snorted, turning away from Krelian.
"And your plan is so much better then? Live forever and create a god who will probably be just about as responsive as the one who let Sophia die?" he asked, his voice slightly muffled and a little tinny since he’d put his helmet back on.
"Maybe we’re both going about it the wrong way, then," Krelian said.
Footsteps. Heavy. Halfway gone. Then they stopped. And Lacan - Grahf - turned, his eyes glowing points of gold out of that ridiculous helmet of his.
"What do you suggest then?" he asked.
"Take that thing off. It’s impossible to have a serious discussion with you wearing that helmet," Krelian said, rolling his eyes.
Lacan rolled his eyes, which was magnified by said helmet, but he surprisingly did remove it.
"Perhaps we should work together," Krelian said, slowly.
"Why?" Lacan asked, not even flinching as the fire that was devouring the city finally reached the Cathedral and shattered one of the stain glass windows.
"Well, we seem to be working to cross purposes. I wish to create God. You wish to destroy everything. Doing that, neither of us shall reach our goal. But if we work together, perhaps we can each get what we want, as well as avenge Sophia," Krelian pointed out.
"…I’m listening," Lacan said.
"You wish to destroy everything. Everyone. However, death is too good for those who killed Sophia. There are much worse things that we can do to them. Things we can do together that we could never do alone. Besides, you already agreed to call off the Diabolos. We had an agreement."
That was how they’d ended up having sex in the middle of the cathedral on the altar after all. Not that Krelian let that into his voice or expression. Not that he was even letting himself think of the implications. It was a business transaction, after all.
Lacan smirked, his eyes almost seeming to glow in the firelight, even without the helmet on.
"I don’t recall giving you much of a choice in the matter. But fine. I’ll call them off. But what do you get in return? Why do you wish to create God in a mostly dead world?" Lacan asked.
"Because, Lacan. Humanity will rebuild. Repopulate. And when it does… someone will need to be there to shape them. Guide them. Make sure what happened to Sophia is not repeated."
Lacan snorted. “Are you going to create god, or become him?”
"No, Lacan. Not god. I’ve no more use for that being.”
"I really don’t care about your delusions of grandeur, Krelian. What is worse than death for those who killed Sophia?"
"For the Shevites… they will live. Forever. With the knowledge of their betrayal and what they’ve done. For the Solarians, well… that is a bit more complicated."
Lacan paused, considering this. “Not bad. But it sounds like you can do that on your own. What do you need me for?”
"…would you like to rule the world Lacan? Rebuild it? And then destroy it in the end with the power you possess?" Krelian asked.
He was a quick study. He didn’t know quite what had changed Lacan so drastically, or how he had gotten this strength, this armor, but he had quickly picked up on what Lacan wanted. What would tempt him. And he watched the emotions, so many of them seem to play across the painter’s face in the space of a few moments.
"Maybe. It sounds like an awful lot of work. So much more work than finishing Sophia’s portrait," Lacan said quietly after a moment or two. "And even if I do help you… there’s something I need to do first."
"What is that?" Krelian asked.
Had he miscalculated? Lacan was different, but… Krelian was just beginning to realize just how different.
"There’s a mermaid that’s waiting for a birthday cake," Lacan said, his eyes far away.
Krelian couldn’t identify the emotion in those eyes. Whatever it was, it was as if Lacan was seeing something that wasn’t there. Or perhaps remembering something? Or perhaps… it was just the sheer age that was in that look. Krelian didn’t understand it.
"She’s been waiting a long time. I need to go find her. She’s probably very lonely. I’ll be back once I see her."
"You aren’t making any sense, Lacan!" Krelian growled, shaking his head.
"Would you like to come along?" Lacan asked. Then he turned, put on his helmet, and started walking out of the cathedral.
Krelian didn’t flinch as another window exploded and rained glass down on him. And he started walking out of the cathedral after Lacan. He had to stay on the path he had chosen for himself. He could only move forward from this point. Looking back held too many memories. And, no matter how much he may have wanted to, he couldn’t go back.