But this dark is deep:
now I warm you with my blood, listen
to this flesh.
It is far truer than poems. If you are warm, who
will you go to tomorrow for that?
This is delirium,
please say this bridge cannot
as it ends.
- Marina Tsvetaeva, “Bride of Ice”
Jayce stops and stares. Before him rises an entire gallery of the most beautiful things in the world, perfect gears, scintillating intelligence, mechanical hearts beating more bravely than his own. The perfect symphony of the designs, the smoothness of every prototype… the Mercury Hammer feels like a child’s toy in his hands now, heavy and dumb, something that will soon be phased out. This is the future. This is how the human mind will survive.
“So, Jayce?” A man questions, impossibly soft. In his voice there is a desperate need for acceptance and validation, for someone to tell him that his work is worthwhile, for humanity to take him in, hail him as the genius he was always meant to be, love him, stop him before he falls further into this cycle of despair and revenge.
Jayce turns. Stiff. There are tears in his eyes. Doesn’t reach for the crystal core, but reaches for the source of the human voice he hears. Gazes into the mask of the Zaunite. “I’m sorry.”
- Each syllable an ocean of the most unwilling betrayal, empathy, pity, love. Viktor can’t process it. How can one person be simultaneously so hopeful and so godfucking hopeless at the same time? How can someone be so mind-numbingly awful?
Is he not the second half of this Piltovian crystal, the promised path to glory, the mortal flesh of the immortal apple, but a rotten one instead, one that was never supposed to come into fruition?
“What are you sorry for?” Asks, despite knowing the answer.
“I’m sorry,” Jayce repeats, wiping away a few tears from his eyes, the remnant charges on his skin burning his hands raw. “I can never find dying beautiful.”
“What do you think of Viktor?” Vi asks almost carelessly, flipping through pages in her memo book.
“Oh, that guy?” Jayce looks down. Looks away. It’s raining outside. “I betrayed him.”
“What? Didn’t he try to destroy this city, and all the cities beyond this one?”
“He’s an idiot,” Crooked smile. Something hurts. “The world has failed him enough that he has chosen to give it up.”
It’s the living you that I find beautiful, goddammit. Not your mind. Your soul.
You didn’t want to fall. Didn’t want to have the credit for all of your work taken away from you, be stuck for years on decades working as a nobody in a polluted lab when you knew you were so much more than that. Dreamed of a future where the human mind would reach its furthest potential, not be limited by our birth or nationality or physical attributes. Fantasized about a world where you’d sit at the throne of fame, be loved and adored by everyone who had seen the spark of your work.
What made you think I’m any different?
I can hear you now, laughing cynically at me, pointing your hexcore at my heart. “But you’re loved by this world. I am not.”
Oh, yeah. At the expense of you.
How often do wounded scientists find each other? Dreamers who wanted more than all else to feel wanted - to feel like they’ve had a hand in creating a brighter future - only to become disillusioned by what this world really is? His wit is the sharpest I’ve ever seen - persistent - shrewd - and there’s a charm in the way he speaks, a fallen brilliance that flares like a pulsar. In all of it his humanity speaks, denser than anything, craving, faltering. He wants to be loved. And I’d be damned if I don’t love him.
Words fail me, so: I kiss you.
You don’t believe in poetry, but I can lean close onto your Cupid’s bow, love you when you can’t, show you the affection that bleeds over boundaries and ideals and everything I’ve said I stand for. I was never like Caitlyn, the kind of hero who could leave a crying child in the darkness to save a building from collapsing onto itself. I needed that child; I needed him to smile up at me, pinch my cheeks, pull my hair. I needed him to tell me that today humanity didn’t fail him, that someone thought he was worth saving, even if he might just turn out to be a lifetime criminal.
And don’t you look like a child now, flustered and backing up against the wall, not sure what to do with your third arm, your hands fumbling for a block?
“Just trust me on this,” I say almost lazily, easily pull your hands aside, and then - eat my share of the forbidden fruit, that primal sin of love that once gave birth to life itself.
I make coffee. You make robot dandelions. You’ve never seen real dandelions, so you imagine they’re the color of mocha. I’m too thrilled that you even tried to want to correct you.
Plus, if I did, you probably would have shot me.
I wire myself into the mainframe, make some kind of forced joke about Schrodinger’s Jayce. Neither of us is impressed. You cock your head. I puff out my chest.
You knock me out, but you fail at cracking my security code. You complain to me that it’s too hard, congratulate me on my victory.
I laugh. It was your bloody birthday.
“A poet is the reverse of a chess-player. He not only doesn’t see the pieces and the board, he doesn’t see his own hand - which indeed may not be there.”
The city isn’t sleeping
Love is a terrible plight
The heart is a butterfly at the
end of the line
Veins the threads of a kite
“Bury me with a gear and a rose. Leave me in Piltover, kiss me goodnight.”
“Why are you speaking of death?”
“Why are you speaking of the Evolution again?”
“It doesn’t - it doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive.”
“But it does. It does. I don’t want to live in a world without you. I don’t want you to die, Viktor,” I say plainly, and we both know exactly what we mean.
I kissed you under the mistletoe
Held you close to me as I died
Whispered your name in my sleep
Forgot all colors but
The black of your robes
The crimson of your rays of death
The way you stared at me with that
The way you spoke of empty river beds
The mechanical grease behind
The promises I made to you,
That one day with the sunshine