Disclaimer: I don't own Kuro or T.S. Elliot's "The Hollow Men."
Author's Note: Oddly, I feel very weak today… but finally strong enough to write again. I don't get it, either.
Warnings: Spoilers for the end of both seasons, SebaCiel, religious themes, more poetry. (I've been doing a lot with poetry, lately, haven't I? Ah well.) Usual editing fail, I'm sure. As it's based directly on it, I'd highly suggest reading "The Hollow Men" before this. Or after this. Or anytime. XD
Dedication: For Ashleigh and her sister, 'cause this is their fault. ;3
I. We are the hollow men
Not in a world, not in a body, but in a thought. He— they— are little more than musings, soft breaths of air and wind that whisper over the dry, deadened earth. They twist and they taunt; they tease and they tempt. They dance as devils dance, grazing over the satin skin of ignorant mortals: playing and toying like the breezes that rush through autumn leaves.
Manipulation. He was manipulated, once. He knew it, but did not realize it, and now…
And now he exists, not as a boy but as a man; not as a human but as a demon; not as an individual but as part of a pair. For he knows—deep, deep down in his not-bones, not-soul, not-heart— that he would not exist at all if he were to be left on his own.
What is the wind if there is no one there to feel it? No one near to hear it? It is, after all, invisible.
Nobody believes in us anymore.
But it exists. He exists. And so do they, in cellars and flats and abandoned churches, curled so tightly around the other that sometimes they forget that they were ever separate beings. Outside, winter storms howl and gusts bang-bash-blow against the whining windows, and their reedy voices vanish in the hammering, squeak, and grind of the changing times.
Nobody believes in Him, either.
There is a quiet, cold comfort in reality. He coils closer to hellfire and closes scarlet eyes.
II. Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
When dreams are good, they dream of England. When dreams are bad, they dream the same. And when they wake, they are a little emptier, a little angrier, a little more desperate. His companion's claws are like kisses, leaving red marks down the knobbed expanse of his back.
As delicate as truth, as pretty as a whore, as white as sin, the other would murmur. He would blush and deny it—both the words and the expression—and they would distract themselves from one hunger with another: sprawled across the altar, just like it was their first time.
But sometimes, their altar is occupied. Sometimes, when their home is scented with plumes of frankincense, they retreat into the shadows; other times, they hide in plain sight: as rats or bugs or other pestilence, coiled as serpents around the eves… leaving silken feathers in the pews. During mass, they caw and hiss; throughout Eucharist, they heckle and snap. All in vain, most days, for God hears nothing, and neither do His half-entranced followers. They are the Fallen: their voices the air that whistles between scrabbling fingers, that shrieks through shattered wings…
They are the wind, unseen annoyances. To all, at least, but the dying leaves: cowering in the corners where the candlelight falls short. Their blustering batters and beats against those poor souls, turning them upside down and inside out; occasionally, the fools believe that their ember-bright gazes are luminous with the blessings of Heaven—a hallowing beam that finally finds and warms their countenance. And they, in turn, are warmed by the astral that drips from the lips of the dead, by the tepid bowels and pumping blood that stains the grooves of the cobbled floor with the thickest of wines.
On those rare nights, full and sated, they close their eyes and dream of nothing.
III. This is the dead land
When he wakes, he wakes alone.
It frightens him, sometimes, when his eyes snap open and fall upon the distant ceiling—black and cold as the sky beyond the arched wooden beams. It frightens him, because he feels so small and insignificant amidst that colorless expanse; he is a speck against the fake-sky… he cannot bear to fathom his fate against the real one. In the myrrh-perfumed darkness, he ponders other dark things: hearts and minds and dreamlike pasts, prayers he once gave and threads he once grasped.
The thoughts have no life in them. They simply are, just as he simply is. They exist, like the wind: pushing against his back, tickling his burnt sides, caressing his cheeks and urging him onward… but they do little more than that. He wonders if he is anything more— anything more than mist and memories, bound around a shriveled corpse and cursed to wander this limbo between Heaven and Hell until—
In these moments of anxiety, he reaches bitty hands out into the emptiness: grasping, searching, straining for a second savior—
His fingers curl around another's, and he can breathe once more.
I am here.
When he wakes he wakes alone, for they are not two but one.
IV. The eyes are not here
There was a time when they hated change, hated his eyes, hated the way he could, again and again, christen the beach anew—wave after wave of gore and purple intestines—and still, he'd breathe, and still, he'd live, and still, he'd molest his desperate servant with sharp baby teeth of diamond and ivory.
How quickly we forget, how swiftly we repress, and the butler would not remember—not for years and years and years—how, once upon a time, he'd have given anything to see his damaged charge inhale once more: to watch that fragile chest swell with air and oxygen as they lay upon the slimy shore, and the Thames' pollution-tainted grunge lapped and swirled and suckled at their intertwined feet.
A brewing gale burst.
The water stole a buckled shoe; the once-child buckled himself, and keened, and groaned, and the river pounded against the coast, just as his butler pounded into him, with limb and cock and despair. And there had been laughter—shrill and sweet—and fury—growled and low—and the sounds had braided and tangled as their limbs and their thoughts and the thunder, chafing little irritants like the sand that bit and cushioned their ethereal bodies. They were like anything else on the seaboard, now: broken toys without a place to call their own, trash discarded and forgotten along the ever-flowing Styx.
Their time had stopped. There was no more dawn, no more dusk; no more day, no more night. Only this.
Slowly—painfully—trembling moonstone lashes fluttered open, revealing talon-thin slits and vermillion irises.
They vanished once more in the wake of a kiss.
V. Falls the Shadow
For the Kingdom
He exists, and he exists, and they exist. They always have.
But they won't always will.
and the Glory
Beyond the fake-sky, there are countless screams. Cries. Curses and pleads. But they have no reason to respond, anymore.
"The storm has stopped," he whispers.
The other-him smiles. The clocks creak.
They kiss goodnight.
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.