The months following were painful. That stubborn part of Owen refused to accept his conclusion and it festered an infected wound of fury and hatred.
Ironically, he didn't follow his own advice of moving on, he took Curt's and found solace in the bottom of a bottle.
Alcohol had never been his favorite and Curt used to laugh at that. Even after he became the Deadliest Man Alive, he hardly touched the stuff. Now though, the burn was enough to fizzle out the ember of heartbreak he had been nursing.
Of course, what ended him and his plans would be Curt Mega. Everything he did was for him.
Too bad it took to long to realize that.
Curt's eyes used to be kind and affectionate.
He drank some more.
No, Curt wouldn't want him to do this. Besides, he had better things to do.
Chimera had to burn. Owen had to be the one to do it.
But for now, he would go to sleep with the whisper of Curt's voice he had managed to salvage through his drunken haze. That was good enough for him.
They were burning and he was numb. Should he be feeling something?
The thought was boxed away and put in the closet at the back of his mind. He made sure to lock that door.
Chimera were gone and he wasn't.
Curt was gone and he wasn't.
There was irony in that somewhere. Owen didn't think about it.
So, Mrs Mega still came down to Curt's grave. That was nice.
There was another pair there too. White poppies. If Owen remembered correctly, it meant peace.
He hoped Curt was at peace, where ever he was. Then Curt could have enough for the both of them.
His were gardenias, pink carnations and marigolds. An odd choice, even the florist had looked at him strangely but he didn't care.
They meant something, all of them, things he'd never get to say again. Even things he would never admit to out loud.
Maybe Curt would appreciate his effort.
On good days, the moments before Curt's death would play out with the same hatred and fire in his eyes that Owen had in his.
But on bad days, most days, there were three things. Love, forgiveness and resignation.
Never had Owen wished Curt had more fight in him than he did when he saw those memories play out. The corners of his mind would scream, cry and beg for Curt to be more careful and less trusting.
They never won, because they all ended the same.
A bang. Owen always did have perfect timing.
Then, a thud. Dull, lifeless, heavy. Blood, so much of it. And the crushing pain of his heart would send him bolting upright in bed.
He needed a drink.
Sometimes, the Deadliest Man Alive liked to poke at his mind and his rage would return. Owen managed to keep it down for the most part.
Nothing terrified him more than hating Curt Mega again.
Two years it took for Owen to come to the conclusion that he shouldn't be grieving. Not only had he sent Curt to his grave, but he'd spent a good few years despising the man.
Something made him put down the bottle and he decided to think.
Was time travel possible?
Mourning was like seeing the world through semi-opaque curtains. It covers most of it, enough for you not to be able to see out of it but just translucent enough to let the light in.
Unfortunately for Owen, it must've been dark outside or something because the curtains weren't letting anything in. At least it hadn't been. Not until recently.
Now, with the thinking he'd been doing, there was that smidgen of sunshine managing to seep through the cracks.
But it wasn't enough. He had nothing. No anger not after Chimera had burnt. No sadness, that had just been replaced by the guilt.
But most importantly, no Curt.
It was the most alone he had ever been. The crushing loneliness was driving him insane.
There were only two options now. Doing nothing and waiting for however long it took before his mind was able to pack Curt into his very own Pandora's box, with warning signs written all over in permenant red marker.
(Yes, it was oddly specific).
Or, and this was his personal favorite idea, going back and saving Curt. Turning his life around. Burning Chimera from the start with Curt by his side.
For that, he'd need a time machine.
And whilst Owen was clever, he wasn't that clever. But he knew someone who was. Someone who would give anything to see Curt again, just like him.
And that was where he found himself. Outside her house--she had a house?--with an apology on the tip of his tongue.
The door opened and he readied himself.
It was Tatiana. Of fucking course it was. Why would it be anyone else?
"You," she snarled, fixing a mean glare onto her face. Years ago, when he'd been the Deadliest Man Alive, he wouldn't have flinched. Now though, now that he had something to lose, he almost backed off the porch.
"Tatiana, I've come to see--"
Her eyes narrowed. "Get the fuck away from my house."
It was now or never. Tatiana would never let him in unless she knew. Steeling himself, he reached out for the door as she went to shut it.
"I want to get him back."
Simple. Short. Fact.
She didn't seem pleased. "He died, there is no 'getting him back'. You would know."
Ouch. Low blow. Although, Owen thought he deserved it. "What if we could?"
That was what caught her off gaurd and her face of thunder faltered. "You can... get him back?"
"Maybe. I was hoping to speak to Barb. She still does live here, right?"
Looking around, she pulled him inside. "She hasn't been feeling well."
He went to open his mouth but Tatiana beat him to it. "Since... uh, Curt, I mean."
So, that was why she reacted with such open hostility. Tatiana was looking out for Barb. It seemed to make sense.
"She might not be very happy to see you."
No one was nowadays. Cynthia, when he'd first met her four years after the 'Russian Incident', she had been seething. He'd mostly been zoned out because it was... Curt's funeral but he remembered it.
Something about how dare he still be alive, how dare he put Curt through years of mourning when he wasn't actually dead, how dare he not save him.
Little did she know what had actually happened. And thank God she hadn't because he probably wouldn't be standing in Barb's hallway.
It was all he could do but shrug. "I get that a lot."
And he deserved it. After everything he'd done, after the hundreds of innocent people he'd murdered, after he'd shot Curt.
He deserved it. But Curt didn't.
Tatiana agreed, although she didn't voice it. She didn't have to, her accusatory gaze said it all. "She's in bed."
Leading him through the little hallway, Owen had to steel himself. Over the past few years, he had had barely any contact with anyone he used to know. It goes worse after Curt's... death and he no longer kept tabs.
When the door opened to reveal how much of a mess Barb was, Owen realized he should have. "Sweets, there's someone here to see you," Tatiana said softly.
Maybe if there was anything beside the guilt squeezing his insides, he might have raised an eyebrow at Tatiana. But, he didn't.
"Tell them to go away."
Her voice was so small, so quiet, so not Barb like that it made his heart clench with something else. Grief. Sure, she never had with Curt what they had but it was something close to.
Owen had killed more than his lover that day, he was starting to realize that.
"It's about Curt."
That was enough to get her sitting up, although it wasn't much. "What about him?"
She looked to the door and saw him. Unlike Tatiana, she couldn't manage a glare. Her eyes just watered and she bowed her head. "Why are you here?"
"I'm--I want to get Curt back. There has to be a way, right?"
If the look on his face in that moment was convincing then he hoped his voice was. It was desperate, dissonant, despairing.
He needed her to agree, he'd go mad if she didn't.
Who was he kidding? He already was.
"And you think I have the technology for that?" she shot back. Maybe it would've had more fervor or anger a long time ago. But it only sounded weak, as if it was a wounded animal's last attempt at escape.
"I'll do whatever you want, Barb--" The look in her eye stopped him-- "I can get that technology, I just need you to think."
What made her lift her head again, he didn't know and he was content in never knowing, but she did. She did and she stared him straight in the eye. "You think we can bring him back? Alive?"
A nod. That was enough for her.
In the years after, inbetween breaking into weapons facilities for materials and technology, Owen had plenty of time to think. About a lot and nothing at the same time.
At night, it was phantom touches he could barely feel. The echo of a warm body beside him or the ghost of a person long dead.
Any other time, it was just about people. Barb had gotten better with him, she no longer refused to look at him and maybe, on a good day, she would hold a lengthy conversation with him.
He learnt a lot. She loved him, of course she did. That he knew from Curt worrying about it. ("I don't want to get the poor girl's hopes up but she's great at what she does, Owen.")
(And maybe, just maybe, he also remembered that Curt had said his name with such love and trust that Owen's heart melted.)
Tatiana took longer. It was two years before she could pass him without a glare and another two before she could talk to him like anyone else.
The hardest one was Mrs Mega. A.S.S. had gracefully left out what had happened to her son and it seemed everyone else had kept his involvement in it a secret. All she knew was that he was dead, which was so much worse.
Meeting her again was awful. One look at him and Mrs Mega was sniffing, beckoning him into a hug. She had asked if he was there when Curt died, why he let her precious boy think he was dead.
His answer wasn't truthful.
"I'm sorry, Mrs Mega. He just--one minute he was running behind me and the next he was--"
(What he had wanted to say went differently. "I killed your son because I blamed everything bad that had ever happened to me on him and spies and I shot him in the head. But I didn't mean to. I lo--")
(That was enough).
When she'd heard about their plans, she insisted they all stayed with her. It made their little team of three a four and Owen and Tatiana no longer had to walk out the door in fear of being recognized.
For that, Owen was thankful.
A couple more months, maybe years, and he'd see Curt again. That got him up in the morning.
The Deadliest Man Alive had been dormant.
There was hope.
Nine years since Curt died and here he was. Seven years into his project and it was finished. Thirteen years since his fall and he was ready to love him again.
This was the day. The day he was going to get Curt Mega back.
Barb, bless her soul, was trying to get the rules and plan into his head so he could never forget but there was no room. His heart was racing, pounding in anticipation.
"Remember, you'll be in your younger body, all we're doing is projecting you onto... well, yourself. If it goes to plan, this will never have happened."
Yes, yes, he knew that. It was all he had had to wait for in the past seven years. "Thanks Barb."
He nodded and made sure, as she leaned in for a hesitant hug, to whisper a, "If you fuck this up, I will get Tatiana to do the same to you."
Surprisingly, he believed it. Hell, he'd even help them.
Tatiana gave him a brief nod and a taut, stretched, slightly psychotic-looking smile.
If it went to plan, he'd be with Curt again and he'd have no memory of the past thirteen years.
Stepping into the machine, he hoped he was right.
Waking up to see a dead man was jarring, but not a sight Owen was unaccustomed to. It felt like his dreams again. Seeing Curt alive with the practiced ease and swagger he always had about him.
This time, though, he realized as he pulled at Curt's bindings, this was real. He was real.
It took all his strength to not burst out into tears.
Holy fuck. Holy living fuck. Barb was a genius, he was going to have to tell her so next time he saw her.
"You're even stronger than your reputation suggests, Mr Mega," he said, slipping into his Russian accent. In all honesty, it was one of his best, although Curt had never thought so. "Perhaps a more serious method of extraction is in order."
"Do your worst," Curt shot back, "I'm like a Russian nesting doll."
Owen remembered hearing that for the first time and thinking, what the fuck?
"You may break me down but there are four more of me waiting inside. Pretty soon, you'll be left with a tiny little version of me."
Now, he was no longer amused by anything Curt said because it had gone round and round in his head like a carousel. All day. Every day.
"I... do not understand what that means." Moving in close, he couldn't help the way his eyes swept over Curt. He was real, actually sitting there. The same smell of whiskey he always reeked of (not that Owen ever minded) and the same determined look on his face.
"But what I do understand the sound of a man in pain." Curt raised his eyebrow at that and Owen almost scoffed.
He meant that more than Curt would ever know.
And as Curt leaned away from him, if only by a bit, Owen realized he was still interrogating him. "Do you fancy nursery rhymes, Mr Mega?"
Snapping for Oleg to replace him, he moved back into the shadows to recuperate. Curt Mega was there.
Curt Mega was sitting in front of him.
Curt Mega was alive.
Somehow, it hadn't really registered yet.
A sound of pain drew him from his thoughts. How could he have forgotten? Amongst other things, Curt was great at breaking other people's fingers. It was a skill he had perfected especially when tied up.
He almost laughed at Curt's 'little piggy' story but stopped himself. Torture, he was supposed to be torturing him.
"Well, that's a version I've never heard before," Owen said. Although, he had, hundreds of times, behind closed eyelids. "Ya know, it would be really, really nice if you just, uh, told us about the blueprints."
"How about I use American sports metaphor?" When he had said that the first time, it had been so funny to him. A subtle dig at Curt that he would've laughed at if he was aware that it was Owen.
"Are you ready to, how you say, play ball?"
Curt spat at the floor next to him, drawing it out. The next part was quite hilarious to him even now.
"Oleg, crush his testicles."
Maybe if things had worked out, Owen would've laughed about it with him. Although, Curt seemed to be enjoying himself.
Particularly when Oleg managed to fuck up. Which was another thing. How did he manage to hit himself with the bloody hammer?
"God, no! Enough! Enough of this circus!" Grabbing Curt's face, making him look at him and finally seeing all of him for the first time in nine years was almost too much. Still, he persisted.
"How can you be so cool and collected when you are staring death right in the face. Where do you get off?"
"Bedroom, shower, maybe the backseat of a limousine," Curt shrugged.
Oh, that was a night. No, no. Focus.
Shouting over his shoulder, Curt shot him a glare. Venomous and vile. "But I don't think we're there just yet. Maybe on our next date, I'll let you get to second base."
It took all his self-control not to remind him that on their first date, Curt had let him get all the way to third base.
Although, it still got a small laugh from him but he managed to cover it up. "Hm, so that's how you want to play this game, huh?"
Watching as Oleg made a move, he held up his hand. "Oleg, stand back."
Pulling out a feather, he watched as Curt started to squirm. "Shit."
If he remembered correctly, he was ticklish behind his neck. All he had to do was drag it over the skin, gently and like a fleeting kiss. That would test his theory.
And... bingo! Crazy, uncontrollable laughter filled the air and Curt tried his hardest to move away from it.
"Stop! Oh, God. Please, please! Ok, ok."
"I'm working for the American Secret Service."
The feather moved again. More laughter.
"W--Wait! W--We need pictures of the new weapons you've been developing so we don't--"
"No, no, no. Not until you've given me every last bit of information."
And he started again, causing Curt to let out one last choked laugh. "How could you possibly know I'm ticklish deathly behind my neck and ears?"
Because Curt trusted Owen more than anything and they'd had their fair share of tickle fights.
Turning away, he said something entirely different. "Hm, well, personal history does have it's benefits, Mega."
Finally, time to reveal himself. "Oleg, we're finished here."
Two shots. From the corner of his eye he saw Curt flinch away.
He hadn't done that when Owen shot him on those stairs.
Taking off his hat, he turned to Curt fully, watching as his face scrunched up, an inquisitive brow raised. "Sorry to cut you off, old boy. Thanks for a lovely afternoon of letting off some steam."
Yeah, nine years of it.
"Owen Carvour, you limey bastard."
Christ, his name had never sounded so amazing. Curt was alive. "I knew it was you all along."
Ha, yeah, right.
"That accent sure could use some work though," Curt commented, a playful glint in his eyes. It was an invitation to play along but Owen knew if he was to shake his head then Curt would be much more solemn for him.
Not today. He wasn't going to do that today. Curt was going to be Curt.
"Oh, sod off! It fooled twenty Russian security officers and our dear friend Oleg over here."
And then, although he was weary of Oleg, Owen did something he had hardly ever initiated. He kissed him.
It was short, mainly because Curt was gently and half-heartedly trying to pull away, but also because Owen couldn't manage any more than that.
"That was new," Curt whispered, his eyes sweeping over to the Russian henchman in the corner. Oleg still had a face scrunched up in pain. "You okay?"
Putting on his best smile, Owen brushed a hand over Curt's cheek, barely a ghost of a touch. "Always, love."
Now, his attention turned away from Curt. Getting them out of this facility, both of them alive and with all bones intact, was his top priority. Mess this up and there was no going back.
Curt probably noticed his change in mood, although he didn't mention it. This was all the confirmation he needed that he could be harsher, more on edge.
Talking to Oleg was so much more fun when he wasn't holding back.
"Make another sound and it won't be another bullet in your leg," he taunted, crouching down beside him. From the corner of his eye, he saw Curt flinch.
The Deadliest Man Alive keened.
Owen straightened up. "Stay silent and you'll be one of the only people to survive. Take my advice, find a new job, this isn't your forte."
Oleg was out cold within a second. It almost gave him whiplash.
"Owen, are you sure you're okay?"
It once again reminded him that Curt Mega was meant to be alive and boisterous, not dead and subdued or quiet and small as he had been in that moment.
"I'm fine, my love."
Right, he was. Curt was alive.
This is what he wanted right? Right?
That voice he had managed to keep down prodded at him again. All this pain had been Curt's fault hadn't it? All the grief, the anger, the guilt. If he hadn't just fucking killed him in the first place.
But Owen could fix that, he argued to himself. In fact, he was here to fix it.
Telling the Deadliest Man Alive to shut up, Owen's face pulled into a stoney, stoic mask. All he had to do was get out the facility and it would be over for him. He never would've fallen so he never would've existed.
Then he and Curt could continue being partners and he could live with that. Because living without Curt was worse than dealing with his agency and knowing that he was working for lying, deciteful bastards who didn't care.
He had to keep him safe. He had to get them outside, both alive and both without harm.
Owen Carvour was ready to live for the first time in a decade.