Author's Note: This is all your fault, Intro to Christian Thought class!
Dedication: For LJ user goodbyemyheart. HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LOVE! :D
IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ: Understanding parts of this will require explanation. I'll try to keep this brief.
+This fic was inspired by Matthew 4:1-11.
+It references events that take place in Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 8:24-30.
+Logos: "Word of God" in Greek. It is the divine spark within the human spirit. Essentially, it is what makes a soul, a soul.
+I am: In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes a Sebastian-worthy pun. He often begins sentences and answers questions by saying "I am." "I am" is also translated to "YHWH," which is the holy name of God.
Warnings: Religious tones, obviously. Lightly implied SebaCiel. Spoilers for the end of the anime.
"Why, hello there."
With a simpering smile, the lanky creature tilted his head in mocking reverence, black taloned fingers splayed across the glossy expanse of his leather-swathed chest. Straps of shadow looped about his slender hips, and bedecked his lissome thighs; the gloom of midnight enveloped his every limb, the otherworldly fabric ending in feathery points. Upon his narrow feet, needle-thin stilettos glinted like knives; without any apparent difficulty, the spectral being glided over the golden-brown dunes, both unaffected by and oblivious to the grainy bite of the desert sands. Instead, all of his attentions were focused upon a single man, dark of skin and long of hair, who had—for over an hour, now—been scribbling calmly in the grit, just as he had every day for the past thirty nine.
The man did not pause. "Can I help you with something?" he asked politely, doe-brown eyes crinkling as he scrutinized his own inscribings. After a thoughtful pause, he used one calloused hand to blot out half of his previous scrawls, and then began to write again.
The phantasm circled closer, like a sweetly-sneering vulture, leaving a trail of strange, spiraling footsteps behind him— footprints that even the wind could not erase. "Help me? Oh, no," he breathed as he did so, his tone as saccharine as his intentions were wicked. "No, I require no assistance. Rather, I am here to help you."
"I need no help from the likes of you," the man retorted coolly, sounding faintly weary. "As I have told the others who have come before you. Be gone."
"Oh, how you wound me!" the devil sulked and pouted, his bone-white face contorting into an expression of parodied pain. But his long lips were not designed for frowning; they slowly curled upward again, reaching for his ears. Perpetually smiling, just like the skull of a man… "You assume that I am here to cause you harm? Verily, by 'help' I simply meant that I wish to entertain you. Is it so wrong to long for conversation whist within this horrid place? Surely you tire of the company of your hand…"
The man arched a single, bushy eyebrow, his features otherwise flat.
"I was referring to the finger with which you are writing, of course."
The other returned to his scrawls.
But still, the creature did not give up. "Perhaps we began on the wrong foot," he thus pronounced, weaving all the nearer to the man and his sketches. "Indeed, I have heard that you are not terribly fond of my kind to begin with. But have you not learned in your travels that Gentiles can be as pious as Jews? The same can be said of non-humans, as well—wouldn't you agree?" A serpentine smirk slithered its way onto the demon's oval face, his silken words a dangling tempt… a verbal apple of scarlet. "Let us be friends. Even the dogs get the scraps that fall from the children's table, correct?"
The quotation made the man chuckle softly, as much amused as he was annoyed. "You speak of events that have not yet happened," he reminded.
"As do you," the monster retorted, stooping low before his companion. He was far too close, seated like this: radiating heat and darkness and the smell of sweet rot, so pungent that even the sand itself wished to flee from his presence. But the man remained stoic of face, mind, and heart; incorruptible and immovable, a Rock for all peoples. "Or rather, you write of such events. Such a cruel fate, hmmm?"
With a single, spidery digit, the demon cut through the other's Aramaic symbols and engraved the sand with a sign of his own: a thick, looming cross.
The man blanched, shuddered; the devil clucked sympathetically, watching his companion's reaction through the fringed curtain of his thick, fluttering lashes. "Truly a pity," he purred, and for the first time succeeded in garnering the man's notice. Hesitantly, with ginger caution, the man lifted his gaze; their foreheads were mere inches from one another, both half-bridged over his writings. "Though I understand your pain. I, too, have been forsaken by God."
The man hardened again. "I have not been forsaken."
"Haven't you?" The creature cocked his head, inky tresses tumbling to the left. His slender hands fell atop his crooked knees; in all ways, he mirrored the human. "Can you prove it, then? Turn stone into bread, or have Him save you from a fall?"
"One should never test God," the man scolded, standing with a brush of his robes. The demon immediately did the same, trailing behind when the other began to stalk off.
"Oh, I meant no disrespect, of course," he sneered, his gemstone eyes and onyx clothing glinting in the midday sun. He looked as ethereally beautiful as an illusionary oasis, a sunset mirage. Had the man been anyone else, he might have been driven to the deepest depths of despair (to the bitterest, damning jealousy) upon comparing their visages. But then, that was all part of the demon's game… "Truly, I tell you, I was only thinking of you and your welfare. After all, you look half-starved, my friend. How long has it been since you partook of a meal?"
The man snorted. "I could ask you the same thing," he grumbled, walking all the faster. But it was no use; there was no outrunning a devil on one's heels. Without so much as a consolidation of effort, the spectral being was once again beside his companion. Foot to foot, chin to chin, then a foot and chin ahead... And soon the fiend had overtaken the man, forcing him to stop when he spun around. Face to face and boot to sandal, the devil laughed and leered and laughed some more, licking his sickle-sharp smile.
"Oh, you needn't worry about me," he then cooed, vermillion gaze sparking like the searing embers within the Unholy Fire. And indeed, if the man listened, he could almost hear the tortured souls of Hell screaming within the creature's lilted comeback, see the dead's insubstantial essences pounding desperately against the back of those enchanted irises… "Logos is far easier to harvest than wheat or barley. It produces far less waste, as well. Shall I show you?"
A grab, a grunt, a giggle. With little other warning, the demon found his companion's wrist and pulled— chest met chest, nose met nose, and the ebony-clad monster moaned as he caressed the other's stubbly, sun-tanned cheek. A porcelain crevasse creaked leisurely open, like a crack that split the very earth; ivory diamonds glinted within that eerie chasm, that endless black abyss that was inching closer and closer, so close now that the man could feel the phosphorous heat of the Pit wafting against his mouth…
Just as abruptly, the fallen angel pulled away with a snort and a spit. "Disgusting," he cheerfully insulted, untangling their limbs and beaming serenely. "You're far too good for my tastes. I much prefer meals that I can corrupt."
The man—surprisingly unfazed by the entirety of this bizarre exchange— looked as if he wished to roll his eyes. But he restrained, and instead conciliated himself by putting a bit of space between their bodies. "Corrupt, you say?" he then echoed, finally showing some degree of interest in the otherwise one-sided conversation. "And how does your kind go about doing that?"
The devil seemed flattered by his curiosity. "It depends on individual preference, I suppose," he replied after a minute or two of somber consideration. "There's more than one way to flail a dog, as they say. Some decide to possess the humans that they wish to consume— quite a popular approach; you're sure to meet a great number of them. Others curse their prey, raining misfortune over their heads until they wholly long for death. Personally, I prefer to… get my hands dirty, as it were." He flexed his alabaster fingers, in ways that were both sinfully suggestive and deviously dangerous. "I find that I obtain the tastiest results if I season the meal myself."
"…indeed." The man turned this answer around in his mind for a moment, solemn face stony with revulsion and… pity?
The creature's smirk instantly became a scowl. "And might I ask what I said to merit such an expression?" he demanded, his brittle civility a poor disguise for the irritation that writhed beneath the surface of his pleasant facade— putrid and impure, like maggots in a corpse. "I must confess, there is nothing in this world that I abhor quite so vehemently as unwarranted—and unmerited— compassion. I find it entirely patronizing."
"I apologize," the man said in return, utterly unruffled and exasperatingly composed as he—once again—flopped down in the dust, returning to his previous jottings. "I simply find it sad, that's all. That you have the ability to so closely examine and influence the human heart, and yet are never once moved by the agony that you find there. But then, I suppose you have no idea what empathy is, do you?"
"Certainly, I know what empathy is," the monster scoffed, trampling intentionally over his companion's fresh doodles. His petulance was ignored. "I simply have no need or desire to utilize it. After all, sympathy puts a stopper on my appetite, and who would want to intentionally starve themselves? Besides you, of course," he tacked on in afterthought, nose scrunched in distaste.
The man chortled again, the sound as gentle as his gaze—his smile— the power in his voice when he next spoke. "I tell you," he murmured, hands curling and twisting in the warm auburn sand, "that there will come a day when you will tire of reckless gluttony. A day when you will not only understand the hearts of humans, but when you will find a heart of your own."
It was the devil's turn to blanch, to shudder. Self-imposed moderation? Understanding? A heart of his own? What horrendous thoughts! But more disturbing still was the sensations that accompanied this atrocious prediction; with startling acuteness, the creature could feel the words wrapping about his spiritual core, like an invisible chain around his chest... weighing him down with the gravity of such a (potential) reality. But he was only imagining the feel of these shackles, right?
"Is that a curse you're threatening me with?" the fallen one thus snarled, brow furrowing and claws sharpening as he loomed over the mortal peon, his silhouette swallowing the man's stupid scribbles.
"No, not a curse. Predestination," the other returned serenely, taking advantage of the sudden shade that his companion had decided to provide. He wiped his temple and laughed quietly, as if tickled by some secret irony. "We all have our crosses to bear, as they will soon say."
"And yet you speak as if this destiny is some sort of blessing," the demon protested, good humor vanishing within the depths of the foam-blue sky. His insides were writhing with acidic repulsion, disbelief and rebellion coursing though his veins. When he was finished here, he would go and consume and entire city's worth of souls—just to prove this prophet wrong.
"That is because it is a blessing," the man returned as the other groused. "In my eyes, anyway, as it should be in yours. For God is love and love is God, and isn't that what the Fallen crave most of all? I promise you, nameless one, that such a day will come… for even dogs are allowed the scraps off of their master's table."
The devil leveled the man a cold, wry stare.
"…you are truly enjoying this, aren't you?"
Jesus of Nazareth responded with a grin. "I am."
And the worst of it was, Sebastian later realized— ungloved fingers smoothing up and down and up and down his young master's cooling cheek, the boy's waxen face glittering with tears that were not his own— that smarmy bastard was right.
Feeling strangely blessed, the once-butler rearranged his little lord's head upon his lap, closed his eyes, and joined Ciel in sleep.
"…and if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, and his end has come."