Leaving you to die was the hardest decision of my life. The night you called to tell me I broke your heart was the night I knew I could never keep you again. It was no easy feat, hurting you while you were already hurting, but you hadn’t cared about my pain in so long, how could I still carry yours? I chose you and you chose me, most days. Sometimes I wonder if we were family, or if you just needed someone to walk in the Underworld with you. For years I defended you, your heart was my own and no one dared cross you while I stood to your left. But how far we’ve fallen from the crowns we carried in the kingdom of our own creation, no longer rulers of the night.
We found ourselves before each other one morning that grew from the early hours, in the apartment of an older man gripping his youth by the neck. Although I had never been there before, it was a place I was no stranger to. Four years of living my life dancing with my favourite drug felt like an eternity from the sleep I ran from. I stood on one half of the island, demanding my respect from a man who had none for even himself, and from the other you rushed to my side. Arms raised, it was in that moment we felt a commonality, a kinship. We revered ourselves as holier than the demons we ran with. We were the angels, who sought to play in purgatory but we weren’t of it. Or so we thought.
As we grew together, so did the fire surrounding us. But we didn’t mind, we didn’t even notice. Convincing ourselves and each other that this inferno was our home, we lit the night alive. Melting every evening into the sun of the morning, and sometimes into the next. People from all around our lands came to revel in our glory. Your home became mine, and every line given was a handful of seeds ushering in the winter of my soul. We were the place where souls came to surrender, festivities and proclivities enjoyed that would make Dionysus flush. I eagerly burned beside you, brother, my brother. You held my hand in ways that no one had before, you never led me anywhere I didn’t want to go.
And when we fell in love, the other did too. Always welcoming in the new additions to our realm, cheshire grins wider than the open arms we held to receive our latest acolytes. Every foot set on our grounds was a prayer, a worship, a sacrifice to you and I and the life we had chosen. The life we had made, together. Sovereign side-by-side, we granted passage only to those who knelt before us both. Two Kings, never to be crossed, every war you fought was mine too. Whatever harm came to our hearts, the other was waiting and able to salve any wound. Even when you named her Queen, it wasn’t long before a long night found us packing up her belongings once we named her traitor. Over the years together I tried to fall in love as hard as I was falling for the drugs. My admirers who came to play only found the same ways to fail me as others did. They were never meant to last. I recall lying down in my room while you stayed up all night with the man of my heart. I awoke, choking on my own vomit, facedown on the floor. He had placed me back in bed and returned to you. We called the mutual demons within us love, but there was none there. No one could love each other in that place. And yet, I never had someone like you, someone who held me as their most prized possession. I needed you as much as you needed me. Only now can I see, maybe I used you as much as you used me.
My greatest cross from an old life appeared one night, the only being who could falter me, and I struggled to lift my sword. The soulless blue-eyes that haunted me from the year before. The being who drew down my shorts while I laid in a prescription-induced sleep, and took whatever he saw fit. But where I fell, there you were to lift me. Your arms clasped around mine, protecting me, guiding me, swinging and clashing where I failed to. Brother, my brother, at times you were my sole saviour. When I tried to retreat, you swore no harm to pass my gates. You would fall before you allowed me to. I was the only thing you ever loved, and you mine. I loved you because I could never love myself, and you allowed me to. My Knight of nights, both of us too afraid to lay in it alone, so we wrapped each other in the sapphire dark and called it home.
But the stars soon left our skies. Tried as I might to remain in the black, you would soon find me choking on mouthfuls of darkness. Convulsing, contorting, crooking my spine, the place I called home and hurtless began spitting me out. I could no longer stay there with you. There was a war in my bones, and you had no more allies to rescue me from it. I had to do it alone.
It was not without great resistance and pain that I let our life slip away. I tried to return to the kingdom, many a night, but the dark was no longer home to me. It was as if I had grown too tall for its ceilings and skies; there was no room for me there. You reached up for me many a time, never wanting to join me in the clouds – the inferno would always be of you. But then I fell. The fire will always grow if you stoke it. The scent of flames and brimstone called out to me, and the demons I caged beneath my ribs scratch their way from my skin. You welcomed me backed with open arms, the prodigal King had returned, and our world would once again turn. I think I ached to belong to something, someone, so much that when you started feeding me the things that made me sick, I eagerly ate them. You welcomed my downfall, if only to return me to you, brother. You ached the way I did. But I never wanted to stay. I tried to move between the skies and the pit, but the smoke that filled my lungs threatened to weigh me down. I was no pyre, my embers were fading fast, and instead I was searching for the tide that would pull me to shore.
One early morning you summoned me to the empire for aid. You were under attack and you knew I would save you, as I always did. As I always would. But when I arrived, I knew it was the beginning of the end and that your downfall would soon follow. The sun had set on your reign. I saw what living in the twilight had done to you, to your eyes, there was no life there, only despair. And as you held another’s in your hands, with no remorse in sight, eyes darker than the country we grew from, I knew this was nothing to fight. But save you I did, and her too. I never told you that part. What I saw that night tore me open, centrefold. I made the choice to save her life, but I always carried the guilt of the call placed to do so. I thought you would kill her. I knew you wouldn’t care. I tried to convince myself otherwise, and I moved you anyway I could. Not only for her, but for you. It was always for you.
It was only a few days later that another warning bell rang – you were no longer a king, but a prisoner of your own making. I tried to bring you home, to a new dynasty I had made, but you could not live there, I don’t think you knew how. And just as quickly as you arrived, you soon set your life in the shadows of the dusk. Brother, my brother, I searched and searched, but you were nowhere to be found. You knew we no longer spoke the same tongue. I think you were ashamed. I was too. Eventually, I had to close the door to our world, I could not keep it open for you any longer. My arms were tired, knees broken, and you could not find it in you to care. For the first time, I felt our love fade.
You were entrusted to me by the powers we seldom honoured in our life together. I pledged myself for you and you took it for granted. I finally saw a darkness I couldn’t breathe in. The drugs had consumed you completely, the person I promised everyone around us you never were came to surface. You showed up at my bar, and assaulted a girl I had known for years. You spun a different story before she had a chance to speak to me, and then you asked if I could pay for your beers while you ran out. Brother, my brother. You were no family of mine from that night. I made her wait until I finished work and took her home. I don’t even think you knew her name.
It took all of my tears, and all of my fears, to release you from my heart. You said you understood, but I knew that meant you would never forgive me. And I, you. Pulling your bail was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. Everyone who loved you told me I had to, for me. They all knew you didn’t love me more than yourself anymore, it makes me wonder if you ever did. While I thought you were protecting me all these years, I now think that perhaps I was a different type of prey to you. I gave you all my love, affection, and protection. I was your family, the one you never left. You feasted on everything I laid out for you, as did every man I had ever loved. But maybe I was too eager for a home to see, or care. I didn’t mind where we ran, as long as we ran there hand-in-hand.
Now you outrun everything. Now there is no fire in you, only night. If I could chase every sun from you, I would. But in truth, I pray it sets on you, if only to give you rest.
I’d rather see your nightfall, than your burnout.