AN: Yay! I realized that I can download documents from Notepad! I can do things BY MYSELF now!

I hope I don't look stupid for trying to give Nephamael some depth. I hope I didn't totally screw up his character, either.

DO NOT be afraid to give reviews that are less than "Oh, that's really good! You should continue it!" If there's a problem, tell me. I'm sick of reading BAD fics and them getting nothing but positive feedback. On the other hand, don't flame me just to be doing it, either. Don't just be like "This sucks!" But if you have some constructive criticism, it would be appreciated.

And the title is from Francesca Lia Block's Ecstasia. So sad that there isn't an FLB section on this site...

Nephamael glanced up at his queen for a moment, caught in her ethereal, icy loveliness. She was like a beautiful dead woman, but seconds after her death: elegant, having finally attained that stillness, that silence that all the living subconsciously desire, but may never obtain until it is indeed too late to save their souls. He wondered absently if Hell was anything like the Unseelie Court, and, if so, surely it wasn't filled with such fine debauchery? In fact, one might say of the Court that it was both Heaven and Hell simultaneously, filled with the promise of both pain and pleasure. It was the Heaven of a sinner, too far gone for any faint glimmer of hope or desire for redemption.

But what did one such as he know of such spiritual matters? He, who may never know the true meaning of Death, never feel its possessive embrace, wishing to know it intimately, but never venturing beyond halfhearted flirtation. More often than not, he found himself encouraging Death to call upon another, more willing lover, one of the many flinging themselves at it in helpless rage, the ones crawling on their hands and knees, begging, pleading for a taste of intimacy with the Shadow.

At times, Nephamael would act the part of Death himself, luring a healthy, succulent young mortal beneath the earth for an audience, until the company no longer amused him. Occasionally, he would indulge a more dysfunctional victim, reveling in exquisite imperfections. He would mark them as his own, never allowing them to forget that they belonged to him. The pull of life, however, was too strong for Nephamael to seek Death openly; there was more curious fascination than true desire involved.

He did admire Nicnevin, if for no other reason than that she was every bit as heartless as he aspired to be, or, more accurately, than he thought himself to be. She certainly did favor him, though of course, in all honesty, he served no one but himself.

However, a creature that could not die also had no soul. And a soulless creature could not love. But no matter. Such sentiment was weakness, and was to be avoided at all costs. At times he thought he had glimpsed it, reflecting in the eyes of another, but never in himself. If he had indeed ever felt its presence, he had allowed it to go unnoticed.

He wished to become his greatest vulnerability, to make himself cold and hard as iron, to burn anyone who dared to touch him. He had encased himself in thorns, ensuring no unwelcome intrusions. Nothing would ever touch him again.

Of course, there was pain, but only superficial, physical pain, a sort of pain that was of no consequence to him. That sort of pain meant nothing. As for the other pain, he had never known that.

But on occasion he would strip away the defenses, drawing others to him like flies to honey, or perhaps a decaying corpse. Either way, he was equally attractive to insects such as these. He would call them to him to feel their admiration, their desire, their need for his attention, then abruptly reject their offers for sex, for blood, even for love, which both startled and intrigued him, but he never allowed it to be seen. A concept he would never come to understand.

He loved to feel as if they needed him, but secretly, he knew he needed them. After all, as much as he would like to think it real, it was all just enchantment anyway.

What, he wondered, would anyone--human or fey--do without their deceptions? Surely humans, without their lies, and the Folk, without their glamour and illusions, couldn't survive the pain of being stripped of what gave them the strength of mind to carry on their existences.