Lie to me. Say you love me; say you’ll stay. You are a beautiful liar. Lying is an art you have elevated and perfected, and to watch you in action is to listen to the greatest symphony ever written. I have lived all my life among the wealthiest, the most powerful, the most talented and privileged – and yet I have never seen a single person who has mastered their art to such a degree as you. Every lie you offer me is a gift more precious than anything I could give in return. Tell me you forgive me, darling, for being so disappointingly inferior to you. That can be your greatest lie yet.
Demons don’t have hearts, technically, but we can still love. I love the taste of fresh blood. I love a long, challenging hunt. I love all the ways humans invent to hurt themselves without our help. But most of all, I love Noah. You might think it’d be forbidden for a demon to fall in love with a human, but it happens all the time; as long as you stick to the rules, no one down below really cares. Himself’s not exactly a stickler about these sorts of things. Free will and all of that.
Here is what I love about Noah. I love how much darkness and rage he contains inside his fragile human form. I love how he takes control when we fuck, which is often and everywhere. I love how when he learned what I am, he bared his teeth in a hungry, feral smile I’ve never seen before and asked me what it’s like to kill. I love his arrogance and his cruelty. I love his intensity and patience. I love his fearlessness in the face of certain death and eternal damnation.
I don’t mind playing the high school bad boy; I’d take just about any form to watch Noah enact his grand plan. The roles suit us, anyway, me the dangerous rake everyone secretly envies and he the silent, brooding loner they all detest. After, the survivors will say they always knew he was strange, creepy, a little off, but right now they suspect nothing. I watch him go about his preparations with ease, no teachers noticing his absence from class, no students or administration catching him in places he shouldn’t be. Humans are so stupid.
I find a good vantage point near the main doors. When the final bell rings at the end of the day, I can hear classroom doors opening all around the building and students streaming into the hallways. That’s when the bombs go off, three simultaneous explosions that rock the very air. Suddenly I’m surrounded by shrieking students running in all directions, their panic causing more chaos than Noah’s detonations. The bombs serve to herd everyone toward the main doors, and as they crush each other in their desperation, the gunshots begin. Taller as I am than any of the kids, I easily spot Noah as he wades effortlessly into the crowd, picking off students one by one like he does this every day. Soon he’s surrounded by a ring of limp bodies, and fuck if he isn’t the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, his face expressionless, his hand steady and swift as he chooses targets.
It must seem like forever to the humans before police arrive, their flashing, wailing vehicles forming a barrier around the entrance. By now everyone has either escaped or fallen to Noah’s bullets, and in the sudden calm he turns and favors me with the smallest of smiles. If I did have a heart, it’d probably burst; instead, I resist the urge to kneel down before him and show him just how proud I am. But there will be time for that later, an eternity of it, and for now I only nod in approval and come to stand at his side. Together we step over the bodies of his victims and walk through the shattered glass doors.
“Drop your weapon!” someone yells through a megaphone, a dozen officers crouched behind SWAT shields with their guns trained on Noah. He offers them a very different smile and lazily raises his gun. I don’t count the shots fired; six pierce my lover, shredding internal organs but nothing so vital that he dies immediately. I catch him as he falls, one hand flung out to freeze time. I will have this final moment with him, before we meet again in that other place.
“So?” Noah coughs, blood bubbling in his mouth, obscuring the subtle smile on his beautiful lips. Cradling him close, I run my fingers through his pale hair and grin, letting my fangs show. “You did wonderfully, my dear. Any demon would be proud to have accomplished such a thing. Himself will be very impressed, I know it. He’ll make you one of us.”
“Good,” Noah’s eyes shine, partly from the praise and partly from the pain. “So…” his breathing has become labored, his body heavier as his muscles give up, “I’ll see you… down there… soon?”
“Yes, love,” I kiss him one last time in this mortal form, savoring the sweetness of his blood, and lay him gently down to rest on the concrete. “I will find you.”
“Don’t call me that,” you say. “I’m no angel.” But you’re wrong. You think I call you Angel as a term of endearment, homage to your sculpted form or unearthly eyes. That isn’t true. I call you Angel because you are like Lucifer himself, so determined to remain free, abhorring any kind of fetter. You jealously guard your autonomy; you covet free will beyond all rationality. You love me, I know you do, and yet the moment you feel less than absolutely in control you fight back, sometimes with words, sometimes with absence, sometimes with a blade. At even the barest hint of a future theoretical threat you make sure I understand in no uncertain terms that you can, and will, disappear from my life without a trace. That is why I call you Angel. Not because of your beauty; because beside you even Lucifer would feel shame for letting himself be cowed.
I know what you think. You think I want to fix you, or at least change you, make you something or someone other than what you are. That’s what your paranoia tells you, at least, isn’t it? I can almost see it whispering in your ear sometimes, twisting my words before they reach you so what you hear is only a queer shadow of what I said. But try to understand my meaning when I say I don’t want to fix you. What I mean is, I want you as you are: sick and mad and broken. I mean I want to be at your side for all of this, even the nightmares and the blood. Even that crippling paranoia. I mean I want to watch you die, and I will do so unflinchingly. I can’t offer you much, but I can offer you that. Someone at your side until, and past, the inevitable end. Someone with you in the dark. Your paranoia wants you to believe I only love the parts of you I think I can fix, but that’s a lie – I love most fiercely the parts of you that cannot, will not, ever be fixed.
More beautiful than Lucifer and twice as mad;
my feral lover, serpent-tongued.
Sometimes life is not the better choice. Sometimes nothing can be done to save someone because there is nothing left to save. I am a walking corpse, and I will find a way to cut myself free from this rotting body eventually. To argue or pretend otherwise, or to offer me well-intentioned falsities, is a waste of time. Daren is gone. Nothing will change that fact. He will still be gone if a therapist gives me antidepressants to stave off the crushing sorrow. He will still be gone if my family has me committed so I cannot harm myself. He will still be gone whether I live another thirty years or die tomorrow. Given that immutable fact, what does any of it matter? He is dead and I am alone.
We don’t talk about that night. Maybe I dreamed it. His fingers through my hair, my head in his lap… was that really him? Is he capable of such gentleness? Such selfless compassion? Withdrawal turns your senses inside out, so I could easily have hallucinated it all; it wouldn’t be the first time I lost the ability to determine dream from reality. The memory seems too clear, too complete, to be a fantasy, though. I remember the bad along with the good – my racing heart, the cold sweats, the vomiting and uncontrollable trembling. Surely if I had imagined his presence, I would also have imagined myself less of an embarrassing wreck, right? Wouldn’t I have at least omitted the parts where I wept like a child? But that’s what makes it feel impossible: I remember it all, and I remember him beside me the entire time. He took the bottle from me and could have left me to suffer through the storm alone, a fitting punishment for a pathetic addict like me, but he didn’t. He stayed. He held me as I shook so I didn’t bruise myself on the bathroom tiles. He murmured kindnesses I know will never leave his lips again. Could I have imagined it all?