Good gods in heaven, I'm writing movie!verse SPIDER-MAN fanfic. This might be a sign that I'm finally losing my mind . . . TITLE: . . . what matters at the end of days . . . PAIRING: Harry/...
His own skin is like honey (/loathsome in his own deliciousness/). In this, as in so many things, he is his mother's son. But Peter Parker has ghost's skin - /white/, white. He is so pale that he is almost translucent, so pale that many fail to see him. But not him. Not Harry Osborn. He see him. He sees how Peter's veins are greenish, indigo lines of jagged waterways, coursing up his forearms and inner thighs, running together at all the junctions of his limbs. (He has mapped them with his eyes, followed some with his fingertips, would give anything - die, kill, /anything/! - to trace them all over with lips, teeth, tongue.) He sees the permanent shadows under Peter's eyes and collarbones and ribs. He knows that the skin at Peter's ankles and wrists and temples is thin and hard. Mary Jane Watson's skin is also white - endlessly, flawlessly, smoothly alabaster white. MJ is porcelain and Peter is eggshells, cracked and broken.
(/And the crack in the teacup opens / A lane to the land of the dead./)
It does not matter who came first into whose life, who sought to claim who first. All such claims ring hollow, to him, in the face of his need, his desire, his love. He is hallowed with love, and their claims are hollow.
(/For the world is hollow and I have touched the sky/)
They are both hollow, though they may not know it.
I knew a woman, lovely in her bones . . .
Mary Jane Watson was the most beautiful girl in her year, at school - who was too small, too thin, too pinched, all up-turned nose and too-white skin and shocking red hair, a color more like blood than fire. She was the most beautiful girl at the school - who was too small, too pale, too frail, hiding behind her too-big smiles, her too-bright laughs, her too-rigid mask of endless good cheer and the peppiness of the truly popular. She was the most beautiful girl in the world - who was too small, too undernourished, too unloved, too needy, too falsely patently perfect and perky for the judging eyes of others. She was an angel who lived across the street from Peter and when she was young (before highschool, when fashion and popularity necessitated the cutting of it in a short and stylish pixy bob, a sacrifice for which Peter doubtlessly shed far more tears than MJ) her hair was so long that it wasn't just a thick rope for Rapunzel's blind and mindless prince to climb up but rather a web of unraveled silk stretching out into forever, sun-stained clouds the world over nothing more than her unbound hair, the light polishing its cloud-spun strands to endless radiance, storms jeweling it with tear-shaped and lace-pattered and adamant-hard watery gem-drops and binding it up in clasping flashes of lambent lightning, her hair twisting and whispering on the winds like poetry, thick and soft and shining, flower-red, sun-red, blood-red, poetry both as dark and bright as death.
(/Put out the light, and then put out the light/)
Peter worshiped at her alter from the moment he first laid eyes on her. He believed her an angel. He was half right. She was a goddess. A merciless goddess, fed on the tears and sighs and praise and longing and gentle caresses of all those who could never truly possess her. She fed on him, when she deigned to notice him at all. And left him ever after, when he was no longer of use to her, for the praises and kisses and lauds of others, those able to give her more, worship her more ardently. Trying to fill up her hollowness with their praise. Trying to fill up her emptiness with their love. And able to give nothing in return but the falseness of her own death-pale, mask-perfect, eldritch visage.
(/Killing myself, to die upon a kiss./)
He starved for love of her. He pined for love of her. He choked, endlessly, pale and still as Snow White in her glass coffin, on the poisonous dry dirt and ashes that was all that could ever come of love of her.
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
Peter is the taste of the longing . . . the taste of too little. Endlessly, always, forever. Too little. Not too late. Just too little. The way fingertips can skim across the surface of another's skin without ever quite touching, the sensation of touch nothing more than the current of air moving across the sensitive hairs below. The way a hand can reach out after a retreating figure, longing in every line of the gesture, and yet never quite make contact with the back curving so rigidly away. Objectively, one could never call Peter beautiful/. That, though, is what's so undeniably, ineffably /gorgeous about him, the way he forces anyone who can truly see him into the subjective, forever binding those rare few with the vision to truly see the distortions of the light and air and earth (cultivated land. Stone. Perfection of earth in his very names) and shadow endlessly wrapped (drunkenly rapt, endlessly enraptured, staining blue eyes with the dewy indigo of twilight, gilding earthen dark hair and making is shimmer darkly, caressing that moon-pale skin and chasing the phantasmal elusive colors in the traceries of waterways of blood so tantalizingly near to the surface, the skin) around him, drawing them, inevitably, to the center of the world in the shy glimmer of his smile. There is divine constancy in that endlessly fragile and lighter than air smile. That is what makes him so infinitely precious. It's not even him/: it's the entirety of the situation, their circumstances, the haphazard way they've been thrown against (into, please god, please all gods, into) each other, the fanning tail of fate and the surety with which they manage to find solace in the negatives - the lacks, the absences, the oddly matching through the act of never quite matching gaps and blanks and empty spaces in their lives. Peter wouldn't want to inspire the use of words as double-edged as /destiny or /divine/, but the power in him for change simply does not fit within the confines of lesser words.
(/Words, words, mere words, no matter from the heart/)
He wants to capture that, to capture /him/, desperately. The sensation, the synesthetic taste/scent/look/touch/feel, of everything having to do with him. The way every sense within him flares to life all at once, the way the absence of him results in a forlornness of senses, of touch and sound and smell and taste and sight. He's tried in every way he can to do so. But words don't suffice. Words alone can never suffice. Nor can painted or captured images, for there is no life in them. In the end, he only has ink or paint and paper or canvass or screen - only words or brush strokes, pale shadows of the reality that is Peter Parker - more negativity, for what would the words or those brush strokes be, without the emptiness of the page, the canvass, the screen, to hold them, cradle them, give them their (un)life?
(/Shape without form, shade without colour, / Paralysed force, gesture without motion/)
(/O body swayed to music, O brightening glance, / How can we know the dancer from the dance?/)
Words could never portray this, this shivering madness, just as color alone cannot convey the rhythm of willing death. Poems don't sing with silence. Photos don't flicker with darkling life. Paintings don't move and dance with stillness. He isn't good enough to capture Peter. He fails in every attempt. His words are meaningless within themselves because they always lose, in the reading, the eloquence they once seemed to bear, in the writing. His art, photos and paintings alike, always end up flat, dull, lifeless, pale and small and imperfect copies. And he isn't good enough. He isn't nearly good enough. And though he pretends otherwise, it always hurts.
(/Where there is love, there is pain./)
(/Love is a smoke rais'd with the fume of sighs/)
(/Teach us to care and not to care / Teach us to sit still./)
So eventually he stops writing, stops snapping photos (though he's the one who teaches Peter, eventually, how to shoot. Irony upon supremely sublime irony. He's the one who gives him his first real camera, and he's the one who figures out how to rig that contest so that Peter will win the life-time supply of Kodak film - which is not nearly enough for a real photographer, only three rolls, two color and two black-and-white, a month, nothing for a real shutterbug, but then, the contest had been for hobbyists, so really, there's no cause for complaint, or so Peter will keep insisting), stops attacking the blank canvasses with his brushes. Even though, even as he is stopping, he realizes he has been breathing through the crafting of words, the clicking of the shutters, the stroke of the brushes across canvas, and that, without these things - even though they are lesser and imperfect and incapable of capturing all that is Peter - he is somehow even more insignificant and empty.
Fled is that music: - Do I wake or sleep?
He is aware that there seems to be little warmth between them. But then, he has given Peter little reason for warmth, of late. He would laugh and Peter would cry . . . no warmth but a small sliver of a smile for him, neck turned back, face tilted up, eyes closed tight to let their dark fringe of eyelashes lie shivering upon cheekbones defined less by their height than by Peter's too little weight. Rivers of tears, eyes open and controlled. Peter's back curved like a dancer's, tears upon his too-pale, flower-like face. Tears for the lapels of an expensively tailored wool coat heedlessly crushed in (pale knight-at-arms) lily-pale hands made desperate by grief, drenched in saltwater and the scent of Peter and so, after his departure, held cherish-close, nose and mouth buried within waterlogged folds, taste and scent and touch all mingled together into a ghost of Peter. The bed still warm from where he lay, those days when they shared an apartment, sheets clandestinely crawled within once he had departed to cocoon, for a time, in the warmth and scent and ghostly impressions of touch and taste and feel (of the silken slide of phantom skin, satiny hair) left by the cradle of his body. Outside of the glorious and too-short summers when they'd practically lived together, trading off on habitations based on whether or not Norman Osborn might actually be in town instead of endlessly away on business and what Aunt May might happen to be cooking or baking that particular day, sleepovers at the Osborn manse had been rare, but Peter's birthday falls during the school year, and so on his sixteenth birthday there had been a special sleepover, memorable mostly for the fact that he'd managed to get Peter well and truly drunk. And then . . . and then . . .
(/To Carthage then I came/)
(/Burning burning burning burning/)
He carried Peter up to bed and then he lay . . . he lay him down.
(/O Lord Thou pluckest me out/)
It had barely been a kiss. Barely been a taste. Barely. Barely. And Peter was insensate through it all.
(/O Lord Thou pluckest/)
Peter had been shapeless in his sleep and tasteless in his dreams and O but he preferred him awake, when those break-taking, twilight-touched, sky-stained bedroom eyes break the sunlight into twin spears of laughter and life and glimmer in them can almost be mistaken for love, for lust. In sleep, insensate, Peter had been motionless but for his eyes, which shifted restlessly behind their lids, making him hope (in vain, most like) that Peter was dreaming of him. He'd wanted to taste him in his sleep, had tried in vain to win proper entry between those sleep-slackened lips, but had not dared to draw near enough to him in his rest to do more than taste, too wary of rousing him to eat and drink of that mouth as he'd wished. As still as Peter's head had been, spilling back against the pillow, he had not dared to touch with enough force to truly feel. He could have touched him then without emotion, without fear, without feeling, but he would've rather simply breathed quietly, softly, over him. And so he had.
Peter is far more fair when he raises his eyes to meet his gaze, when his voice bends to his . . . so sweet, so sweet. What use trying to conjure life out of shadows?
He'd been late coming into his height, the height that had made him so different from Peter that he'd had to stop pretending to be his brother, as they used to sometimes do when they would sneak out together. But it came late enough (right around his own sixteenth birthday) that he'd been able to endlessly come up with excuses to mix up their clothes, make out that the wash had ruined or lost yet another one of Peter's shirts or shrunk another pair of Peter's jeans, so that he would have an excuse to get Peter used to the idea of borrowing and wearing his clothes while Peter's actually perfectly fine clothes (as fine as the cheap clothing of a teenager could ever be) he hoarded, kept just for himself.
(/These fragments I have shored against my ruins/)
On those nights during the school year without Peter, those first two years before he really came into his full growth, he used to retreat deep into his rooms and put on Peter's clothes. There would be no judging eyes to see him, the silence speaking alone, broken into fragments only by the sounds of his breaths and the susurrus of fabric, and he would clothe himself (ritualistically as a knight donning armor) in Peter, layering him over his body (like armor), until almost he could believe he was Peter, or at least that he'd finally found a way to crawl up inside Peter's body and curl beneath and all around his heart.
(/The heart has reasons that reason does not understand/)
There, alone, he ties Peter to him, recreates himself in (to) the shadowy shape and scent of Peter, molds Peter into manifold reflections of himself. There, he armors himself within Peter (laces Peter within him) with cotton and leather and manmade fibers. There, he stands before no mirrors (reflections are failures of the flesh, fast and flawless) and waits silently (but for breathe, susurrus, moving skin) within the dressing drape of Peter's clothes, Peter's scent, touch of Peter, feel of him, phantom of him, Peter (brother), Peter (stone) (love), the clockwork ever turning, the clock forever ticking, waiting for the moment when he will come home again.
(/We are the hollow men We are the stuffed men Leaning together / Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!/)
Surrounded by ghosts of him, leaning all together in a cobwebbed cocoon of scent and sensation, eyes shut to the world, to reality, to (against) the negativity of not knowing, the endless burn of wanting to know, wanting more (and O, cry in sleep, but only come here for comfort, he thinks, and the world will be complete. Completion. Complete. He thinks: Peter. Peter. These clothes are yours. These arms are yours. This heart is yours. This body is yours. Claim it. Claim all. /I wait for thee/), he stands, and he waits, haunted by pale adamant eyes, blue as diamonds, weighting, measuring, still heavy from previous pain, their brilliance shadowed by that pain (pain sheltered to the flesh). Pain is an anchor. It pinpoints, pins down. Holds down. Lays (low) down. Lies.
(/And should I then presume? / And how should I begin?/)
(/"Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"/)
People lie. They lie all the time . . . to themselves most of all.
(/'You! hypocrite lecteur! - mon semblable, - mon frÃ¨re!'/)
Lies give reality its cutting edges - not just double-edged, but multi-faceted with edges, encrusted with jaggedly cutting edges, infested with edges, bound to cut no matter how one tries to approach it. Bound to draw blood even if one attempts not to approach it. Truth can be grasped and safely wielded by the hilt. As long as it does not turn in one's hands, it will cut only where it has been direction. But reality, lies, cut all, lay all low, cleave apart flesh and bone, words and deeds, love and promises. He would rather stand, suspended in breath and stillness, where Peter is near to sense and far to feel and there are no eyes to see.
(/Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!/)
The danger of falling is less, then. Though there are times . . . Gravity is unavoidable, inescapable, to those of the kingdoms of earth. He knows it. He feels that truth, in times frozen from befuddlement and a kind of flesh-starved, sense-deprived, thought-hungry addiction, a kind of dangerous romance, a knife-edge game, half pain and half euphoria and half nothing. Or fully nothing. He's never quite sure. And it isn't the lack of surety that sours his mouth - it's ashes. The firm, earthy, seductive taste of inevitability, rising out of that same absolute nothing.
(/The hope only / Of empty men/)
(/Lord, I am not worthy / but speak the word only/)
(/Suffer me not to be separated/)
He knows it will end. Inevitability. He knows. But he wishes to die slowly, at Peter's hands and at his call, would give his life for just a little death. O, to die for him - !
Waking alone At the hour when we are Trembling with tenderness Lips that would kiss Form prayers to broken stone
Of course, their little war has changed everything. Which is to say, perhaps, that it has truly changed nothing. Because there's something most appealingly beguiling, cathartically drug-like, about having a cause. A fatality, a poison, a feeling of being a part of a greater being, a part of a prefix, pre-Spider-Man, pre-Goblin, a kind of dreamy conviction that, all-in-all, disaffection is not better than hope, not better than love. Not better than lies. Lies . . . reality. Ha! Things are only true as long as Peter is with him and his eyes are open.
Who is the third who walks always beside you? When I count, there are only you and I together/
Mary Jane is beautiful, but there is nothing to her but that beauty. Her name should be Mary Sue. It's what she is. An idea. An ideal. An idol. A mask. An unreal person.
(/As she laughed I was aware of becoming involved in her laughter and being part of it, until her teeth were only accidental stars with a talent for squad-drill. I was drawn in by short gasps, inhaled at each momentary recovery, lost finally in the dark caverns of her throat, bruised by the ripple of unseen muscles . . . I decided that if the shaking of her breasts could be stopped, some of the fragments of the afternoon might be collected, and I concentrated my attention with careful subtlety to this end./)
She will not take Peter from him. How could she, when she is (/Unreal/) unreal?
- But who is that on the other side of you?
There are no eyes here. They will end, as does the world, when his lids are shut. Peter will bend away from his lying form like a dancer, the curved bow of his back greeting him in turn. Peter will marry his (/Unreal/) beloved icon, and then he will flee this deathly hollow house, travel a thousand lifetimes, a thousand landscapes, until he finds sanctuary again, in the open eyes and arms of his beloved, of his Peter. Hope is (hallowed) hollow, between emotion and response. He is only alive in Peter's absence, for when Peter is with him there is nothing else but Peter.
(/Myself am Hell/)
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate.
He had been so certain of it, so sure of them, before the revelation, before their war! He let Peter go - though in truth Peter had, by then, freed himself - and shut his eyes upon tears and rage until darkness claimed him. And the thought that Peter came back to him rose to enfold him in its seductive embrace like the narcotic fumes of burning poppies. But the truth was nothing more than fear and nightmares. When he held Peter's head to the curve of his neck, he could not tell who was holding whom, or why, and so he said, "I, I, I," in reassuring whispers - terrible sounds of self-proclamation against the solidity of air and the solidly sealed mouth into which he had to push the words, since Peter didn't seem to want to understand - repeating over and over again the only true words he still knew: "Here I am, here I am. Here! I! Am!"
(/I am that I am/)
He gathered Peter up in his arms as he slowly came apart - no salt or water this time but only wavering lines of color, shivering to pieces in his lonesomeness - unraveling in his arms until he could see the sky there through his indistinct outline, the sky in red and blue and all shades of death, and was about to panic when Peter finally raised his pale and thinning face to him, whispering, "There you are. I see you, Harry. You're right in my arms."
(/Falls the Shadow/)
(/For Thine is the Kingdom/)
But when he kissed Peter's eyelids shut, he was not solid. His shadowy form melted and gave away to nothingness. And when he finally let go of the glass it shattered into the stones into uncountable jewel-like irretrievable pieces. He could see himself (not Peter. Not Peter!) in the glass. And he was terrified. And awoke, screaming, before the shattered mirror, beneath the leering gaze of his dead father's masks.
falling down falling down falling down
Later, when his back slams into the crossbeam that might one day be part of a wall again, when his bloodied hands grip desperately around some crude cornice, he finally forever realizes what it means/. It will sound inane, afterwards, but that does not keep it from being true: here is life, here is youth, and where they are, hope, like love, like pain, forever springs eternal. It's so climactic to be /saving the world that he barely notices the blow, when it falls, but for his own fall.
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.
And in this, the last of their meeting places, they finally grope together and avoid speech. Grief paints Peter darker still, until the shadows fit him like another skin. They find each other in the dark. And though the moments are fleeting (/Life is very long/), in the lack of light there is only Peter, Peter/, /Peter&Harry/, again and always, and the pain all falls away. Tears warm and dry beneath his fingertips as he finally makes the connection, palm curving to cup the flower-shape of Peter's face, and O, connection, completion, /complete -
(/For Thine is Life is For Thine is the/)
The tryst, the trust, finally and forever, trysts and the endless trust and thrusts and O, best beloved, dearest one . . . Goodbye lasts only the breadth of time in which eyes are shut. Only open them wide again, and see? Togetherness. Wholeness. Completion. But only lie here a little longer, lay down beside him where he already lies, hallowed in aureoling light, hollowed in the coming dawn.
(/This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang, but a whimper/)
A last trembling thought arises just before conclusion can catch them as they tumble down together. It's nearly morning and the prelude to goodbye is solidified, and so they simply hold onto each other. He lets pass a little sigh between his lips while tears like April rain fall from Peter's eyes down onto his honey-skin.
Shantih shantih shantih
And in the end, he is right. She does not win. She fades into the light of the rising sun and evaporates like water. Wherever she rains down again, he neither sees nor cares to know. She would have let him die, there, in the gloaming light as the sun was rising, would have put him into the cold ground in an effort to make Peter finally choose her. But all deaths are not true, all deaths are not permanent, and some deaths are very, very little, indeed.
(/only dying makes us grow/)
Opening his eyes, he finds Peter curled around him in the bed, cocooning him with his flesh, and blesses the fact that he is his mother's son, that his body never betrayed him to true madness, as his flesh doubtlessly (inevitably) would have, had he been more a son of his father.
(/ce qui'est importent c'est de ne pas perdre l'essentiel/)
(/Il est trÃ¨s simple: on ne voit bien qu'avec le cÂ½ur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux./)
And the light shone in darkness and Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled About the centre of the silent Word.
Have you heard? The Word is Love.
With our love, we could save the world . . . if they only knew.