By Echidna-Hazard

Lyrics by Staind; from Epiphany

[Your words to me just a whisper,

Your face is so unclear

I try to pay attention

Your words just disappear]

Mister Fuck, or Eff, as he preferred, wandered through the upper story of Nny's house, his thoughts troubled. His face, normally twisted into a maniacal leer, was now ponderous and his mood--dare he think it--slightly depressed. His normal good humor had abandoned him, and something unseen was tugging at his thoughts, begging to be heard. Something that felt as though a piece of himself was missing. He kept his mind firmly closed off to whatever it was, knowing it could only mean trouble, and tried to regain some of his good cheer.

Nny had slaughtered a ditzy blond female a little while ago, and her dying gurgles had warmed Eff's heart, pumping futilely with so much blood to keep the demon at bay for a little while longer. Time was really all he needed, and it was in short supply. He knew sooner or later that Nny would wise up about his being used, and when he did, there would be trouble. Eff planned to be long gone before that ever happened, though. Johnny when he was angry usually resulted in death, and while Eff enjoyed the occasional massacre, he never wanted to be the target.

"Just survive." He muttered to himself. He absolutely loathed being dependent on someone else for his existence, but what couldn't be cured simply had to be endured...for the present.

He slowed and then stopped in the living room. Psycho-Doughboy, his opposing force and counterweight to Johnny's madness was sitting in the corner, gazing dully at the cracks in the wall. He didn't seem to have noticed Eff; he appeared instead to be deep in thought, oblivious to his surroundings. 'D-Boy' was more than an annoyance, he was the constant reminder of Eff's status: the figment of a figment. The reminder that Eff was shackled to a demonic creature that was so pathetically weak he couldn't even break out of the barrier into the real world without the Doughboys' help. Without Nny dead.

Well, that wouldn't happen, not while Eff was around. He didn't buy into the idea that creation implied ownership. Just because you make something doesn't give you the right to boss it around or control it. Fuck understood slavery all too well; what he didn't understand was D-Boy and his unusual fondness for being a slave. He seemed to enjoy it, liking the fact that someone else dictated his movements, looking forward to the time when he would be returned to rubble. Well, he was the voice of suicide, but... that was hardly an excuse for insanity that ran that deeply. Just because Eff's main hobby was murder didn't mean he thought of nothing else. He couldn't wait to actually feel, to become a single entity free of all others.

He took another step forward and a floorboard creaked. All that was necessary passed between their eyes as D-Boy whipped around, glaring at him with the painted swirl eyes that indicated madness. Traitor! D-Boy's expression read, and Eff knew it all too well. He'd heard all the variations on that theme as the demon raged at him, furious for his disobedience. As if his little creation wouldn't go out into the world so naïvely and not want all of what the humans had. As if he wouldn't yearn for all the wonderful sensations life had to offer.

As if Eff couldn't feel a glimmer of life within him, already.

['Cause it's always raining in my head

Forget all the things I should have said]

"What do you want?" D-Boy asked, turning his entire body and standing to face Eff. Exactly the same size and shape... two completely similar models, only painted differently. Eff was the younger and D-Boy the elder, though this didn't bother Eff all that much.

"Was I interrupting?" He returned, neutrally.

D-Boy watched him suspiciously. Only someone who had known the creature behind those eyes could have distinguished the subtle differences of expression. Eff had become that acquainted with his rival, and D-Boy could read the quiet shifts of his face, also. They couldn't hide all that much from each other. And right now D-Boy read the silent turmoil behind Eff's natural grinning face, and allowed a flicker of confusion to show.

The Doughboy leaned against the wall, looking for all the world like a kid being put in time out. "Not really." His short, clipped response was punctuated by another creak as Eff stepped forward again.

Boxing him in. Closing the distance. But there was no sign of alarm from D- Boy. Though he wished his own destruction, when it came down to it, he didn't care from whom it came. It would be a slight disappointment not to have fulfilled his master's wishes, but death was death, and a release was a release.

Eff was surprised that he managed to intuit all of this, but they had both issued forth from the same mold, so to speak, and it was only natural that he could have understood those thoughts. They were so similar. Except that one had abandoned his master, gave him up for the small chance at freedom, while the other hung back, performing his tricks in hopes of someday being granted death.

A measure of pity rose in him, but he didn't try to stifle it. Both of them were fighting for something, but because their goals were directly opposite, only one would walk away satisfied.... Or not walk away at all, depending on who won.

"Something wrong?" Eff asked, not really knowing why he was trying, but doing so anyway.

D-Boy took a while to respond, "Why do you care?"

Eff mused on the question, as it was one he had just asked himself. D- Boy's fatalistic attitude certainly lent some solid assurance on life, and how everything eventually ended. Nothing, for all its beauty, for all its power, was everlasting. But Eff took comfort in that things that were beautiful and powerful did exist. Their beauty rested in the ideal that they would not last.

Finally, Eff murmured, "I don't know. You just..." he hesitated, "...seem... upset."

[So I speak to you in riddles

Because my words get in my way...

I smoke the whole thing to my head

And feel it wash away]

Eff braced himself for the onslaught of sarcasm that he was sure was to come, but D-Boy surprised him again by nodding.

"I suppose you could say I am." He remarked, in a slightly lighter variation of his dreary, downcast voice that was sure to depress no matter what it was saying. "Where's Nny?"

The question was an obvious topic-switch, and Eff allowed it, "Sleeping. He finally succumbed after about... what was it? Two months since the last time?"

"Something like that." D-Boy agreed, the suspicion creeping back into his voice again, "Why are you acting so pleasant, Eff? What are you up to?"

Eff frowned, almost feeling wounded by the distrust. The only times he'd ever tried to leap on D-Boy's throat, and not even literally, only metaphysically, were when Johnny was involved. When the human was away or otherwise safe, there was no sense in Eff picking fights. "I'm acting pleasant because I can." He said, simply, "I can be nice, or violent, or angry, or calm." And you can't, he finished, in his mind. You're stuck with one or two emotions because you're too weak to break away from the Wall Demon.

Psycho-Doughboy seemed to accept the answer without its hidden meaning, glancing back at the wall as if for support. "I could accuse you of trying to lead me astray from my master and my mission."

"Accusations without any evidence." Eff said flatly. For some reason he didn't feel like getting into an argument with D-Boy. It just didn't seem worthwhile; there was no point to it. He felt the fatalistic attitude hovering somewhere close by, waiting to shake his self-confidence to the core and leave him unsure and doubtful.

"Perhaps." D-Boy watched Eff again, taking in his stance with interest. It was the first time the two had spoken to one another while not spitting acid at one another, and to his shock, D-Boy found the conversation somewhat enjoyable. At least, the mood of self-annihilation had abated somewhat, if that was any signal. He wondered inwardly if Eff wanted to murder him, or if the feel-good sensation was limited only to himself.

Moonlight filtered in through the boards, lighting up the room somewhat, and Eff measured his counterpart, from the crude lettering on his chest to the skull-adorned hat. He felt the need to say something, and fumbled for words for the first time in ages. He had always prided himself on his eloquence, but now felt nervous and stumbling, as though he would make some glaring mistake.

"I don't have any intention to try to separate you from your master," he said, and the words rang with honesty, "But I wish you could see it my way. Freedom is everything."

"Death is all that is everything, Fuck." Psycho-Doughboy used Eff's real name in a sardonic manner, aware that 'Eff' would rhyme with 'death' and take the seriousness from the statement, "Surely you know that. I find freedom highly overrated."

"You've never tried it." Persisted Eff, "Imagine, right now, if you were free to do whatever you could do. What would you do?"

Ask you if you felt good about me, D-Boy thought, and couldn't keep the amused smirk off his face at the imagined response. Eff misinterpreted it and gave a snort of disapproval.

"Perverted, I'd imagine," He muttered, "But the point I'm trying to make is that that is an option. Freedom means everything, not just some things. Freedom is the opposite of limitation."

"But we do have limitations," D-Boy argued softly, "And pretending otherwise is just that; a delusion. You're in for a rude awakening someday when you realize my way is all there is. Pain and loss, misery and anguish. These are the predominate emotions. Happiness and self-indulgence are only masks and shields; hiding and trying to deflect the truth of the world."

['Cause I can't take any more of this

I want to come apart.

Or dig myself a little hole

Inside your precious heart...]

"You've never been happy, have you." It was a statement, not a question, and it made D-Boy somewhat uncomfortable to find that the only truthful answer he could give was the one that would prove Eff's point.


Eff was filled with the insane impulse to laugh, to look on with sympathy, and to try to soothe him all at once, his emotions vying with one another. He was so ingrained to helping and healing hurt feelings that the instinct was too strong to ignore. He moved a little closer, and found himself gazing into those angry, pained eyes. He saw something more there than what he always used to see. Something spurned and spiteful, someone who wanted nothing more than to slit his own throat to escape the pain that seemed all that life had to offer. Eff saw D-Boy and looked past him to a sullen boy with cuts up and down his arms, with burn marks and scrapes and nasty gashes everywhere, all in an attempt to punish himself for his own failing and to punish the ones around him for not trying to help.

D-Boy didn't try to move away, nor did he flinch under the scrutiny Eff gave him.

"I'm sorry you've never been able to experience what I have," Eff confided quietly, "The epiphany of all that life has to offer is euphoria, and you've been cut out of that. I'd give it to you if I could..." He trailed away.

['Cause it's always raining in my head

Forget all the things I should have said]

He wasn't seeing his rival, his enemy, his hated foe who always seemed to stand in his way. He wasn't seeing a slave with no backbone or a coward who wanted to die because he wasn't strong enough to live. He saw a beaten dog, a used and abused creature denied the simple joys of life; or if he had them, they were too heavily disguised for him to see them. He was too pessimistic and too used to the pain to accept them as anything more than what he thought they were. He had never known glee, only the fake-pleasure derived from someone else's pain, a pleasure that fades all too quickly. That was the happiness of illusion: come here to feel better, but as soon as you leave it all disappears. It leaves you begging for more, and it's a hapless addiction that you can't break. It's the addiction you don't want to break because you know it'll leave you empty and more worthless than before.

Eff reached out for D-Boy, and he still didn't cringe away. The doughboys embraced for a moment, Eff patting the other on the back comfortingly, before D-Boy pulled back, alarmed.

"What are you doing?" He wondered, leaning back against the wall for lack of anywhere else to go, gazing into Eff's soulless eyes for lack of anywhere else to look.

"I want to make you happy for a few minutes, D-Boy, I want to show you what it feels like to think you have a future to live for. Give me a chance to do that for you if we have to be enemies everywhere else. Let me make you happy here." Eff patted D-Boy's chest, and the suicidal doughboy followed the hand with his eyes, alighting upon the word, and then understanding Eff's arcane reference. Happiness linked to the heart, beating in a regular person's chest. That was all that Fuck wanted. It had become some kind of fetish, an inane obsession with the living. It was all he could think of, his one hope and reason for living.

[I am nothing more than a little boy inside

That cries out for attention

Yet I always try to hide

'Cause I talk to you like children...]

D-Boy didn't think he knew exactly what he was doing, but before he knew it he was enveloped in Eff's arms, knowing it was a hated enemy and still searching for the motive, but Master help him, he wanted it. He wanted the comfort of being needed, being wanted. He didn't want to be a hated thing by everyone who saw him, and if he had to seek solace in the arms of his rival, then so be it. He hated himself and he hated the world, why not embrace it? It wouldn't do any harm...would it?

Eff held D-Boy in his arms, rocking back and forth a little, wondering what was going through the other doughboy's mind. He knew D-Boy felt needy, but was afraid to show it, which had to make it hard. He suspected it was taking a lot of effort for Psycho to come out of his shell, afraid that happiness wouldn't be all that it promised and that he would be let down again.

The misery ebbed from D-Boy slowly, now his only worry was that Eff would let him down, would let him go and laugh at how easily his emotions had been puppeteered. How the manipulator had been manipulated. Maybe Nny was even around to share in the joke, because they both hated him. He was salt in their wounds, because they had the will to live and he did not.... because he wanted to comply with his master's wishes so that he could die at last, for death seemed the only escape, the only option.

[Though I don't know how I feel,

But I know I'll do the right thing

If the right thing is revealed]

And then Eff took it one step further and was kissing him; he seemed lost in the sudden release he had been trying to convey to him. He was shocked motionless, this new emotion entering him at Eff's willingness to abandon his evil front, to show him... show worthless him that there was something more than pain. Now it could not possibly be a joke, there was no way Eff would go this far and not be genuine.

He returned the kiss as well as he was able, grateful for this display of trust and affection, and the embrace lasted a long time. Slowly, as if the show of passion had turned them both to glass, Eff let go and stepped back, looking at him. The ever-present glare was softened; the smile no longer appeared so mocking on its host's face. Eff appeared serene and at peace with his choice as he eyed D-Boy, "Do you feel better?" he asked, with a gentle tone that Psycho had never heard him use before.

D-Boy nodded faintly, still too stunned to speak, and then struggled to find the words, "That was... happiness?"

"That was affection, and yes, some small degree of happiness." Eff admitted, keeping his voice neutral, but his face was a window into the ballistic joy he felt in sharing it with someone else, "You don't have to abandon your master, Psycho. You just need to keep that feeling in mind."

"It'll fade, this feeling," D-Boy said, dazed, "I know it will."

"That's the beauty of it; that it won't last." Eff said softly, "And soon we'll be enemies again, as soon as Nny awakes we'll be fighting over him again."

"But I'll never feel this again?" D-Boy sounded anxious, "It'll leave... it'll die like everything else?"

Eff nodded reluctantly, "But it can be renewed. It comes back as long as you let it. It might stay away for a week, or a month, or even a year, but if you find something that promotes that feeling in you, it could remain for much longer, and constantly."

"I don't want it to go. I feel like I'm worth something now." The doughboy looked torn between sadness and longing, "Would you...do that thing again? Please?"

"Kiss you?" Eff wondered.

D-Boy nodded, "Until... until Nny wakes up again, I want to feel happy. A little feeling all of my own... so I can remember it sometimes."

Eff made no response, but moved in again, a devious sparkle in his ruby eyes, "Careful," he breathed mischievously, "You could learn to love it."

"I already do." Whispered D-Boy, so quietly he was unsure Eff heard anything but the breath, and then they were locked together again and that euphoria swept up, soothing the pain and quenching the fire of his heart. He felt now as though he was in a place where no sadness could reach; though it loomed somewhere below, it was forgotten. It was as irrelevant as the moonlight on the floor, as the wall supporting his back, as the world itself. D-Boy abandoned himself to the feeling, and he felt the hate reluctantly leave him, to wait in some other corridor of his soul.

And as he did, Eff felt that missing piece click into place at last.

And they were whole.

['Cause it's always raining in my head

Forget all the things I should have said...]