I don't own anything.
So here's this tiny little story I've been writing like a hundred words at a time for three months.
I ship this so hard and it barely exists at all, and it's the only thing that actually motivated me to write this.
My 'U' key is kind of messed up, and this is un-betad, so if you notice a glaring lack of 'U's I'm sorry :p
Hale walked to Proctor's cell with a look of sad determination on his face. He slowed as he entered the cell. He ignored whatever hiccuped warning it was the drunk in the hall had given him and carefully closed the door to the cell behind him.
He turned and slowly made his way the the broken man occupying the farthest corner and kneeled in front of him. Proctor had deteriorated to just a crumpled form chained to the back wall. He had sunk as low to the ground as he could while restrained by his chains. His face was obscured by greasy hair and he made no move to look up at Hale's approach.
"John, look at me, please." Hale had to control himself so that he would not reach out and grab the man in front of him.
"John, please." An edge of desperation began to creep into his voice. All he wanted was for John to just look at him.
"For God's sake, look at me!"
When Proctor finally raised his face and looked at him, Hale almost wished that he hadn't. The man that looked at him was barely recognizable. HIs cheeks bones stuck out from a gaunt face, and he was covered with grime.
But worse yet were his eyes.
The eye's that met his were nothing like those he had once known. They did not hold any of the pride or conviction he had once known them to.
John Proctors eyes were that of a tortured man.
"My God John, what have they done to you?"
"Nothing too harsh for the Devil'sman, I'm sure."
Hale wasn't surprised by the spite in the man's voice. "Don't say that John, you and I both know it not to be true."
"Don't we? I assume you're here to unclasp these locks and free me then." John Proctor's voice had a near crazed edge, and it broke a part of Hale's heart.
"I-" Hale had not come prepared for such bitter condescension, "You know that is not within my power" He said softly.
"Then why do you come?" He asked, "To mock a damned man in his final hours?"
"You're not damned John!"
"Be I a witch or not I'm damned either way!" Proctor managed to recover control of himself and even his breathing, "Why do you come?"
"If I were being honest it would be to have you confess, although I know that you will not. If nothing else I hoped to speak with you again." If anything, Hale looks embarrassed. He cannot meet Proctor's eye.
"Aye, you're right when you say I will not confess. What affects you so that you feel you must speak to me to clear your conscience?"
"I cannot say myself why I came here, but I am sure that it is you I wish to see." Hale quivers for a moment, deciding whether or not to speak.
"I fear that I have lost my faith in God, John."
Proctor looks at him for a moments and then breaks out into a roaring laugh.
"You, O most holy, O knower of demons? You have lost your faith in God? 'Tis a grim day indeed." He observes Hale as the tremors from before overtook his body once more. He spoke softly, "It is not God who went wrong in Salem today, it is man."
"Then perhaps it is not I who has lost faith in God, but God who has lost faith in me."
"I believe it to be neither'' Proctor managed to make himself more upright in his chains so as to look Hale in the eye." I think God had little to do with what happened here. 'twas the jealousy and greed and lust of Salem that put us here, not God"
Hale became instantly affected.
"I fear that I may be damning myself all the same. There were so many...so many who would not have hanged if not for me. And I-I-"
Hale could not finish his sentence. He broke down into sobs.
"Damnit John! I beg you to confess." He choked back a sob. "I wish for you to live now, though I'm not sure I even have the ability to keep you from hanging."
"I will not confess to a crime with which I am no way involved.'' He paused for a moment and looked sadly at the prison wall. "I will not abandon my last chance at being a righteous man."
"John..." Hale looked up at him with red eyes. "If they kill you I'll kill myself, I swear it. I couldn't bear to live with that on my conscience." He moved even closer to Proctor and stared at him, hoping that he would understand this was a serious threat.
Proctor jerked against his chains and looked at Hale with an amazed expression
"Why would you do that, man? Why throw your life away for someone who is already gone?"
A chuckled wormed its way out of Hale's lips. He leaned forward and placed his hand on Proctor's cheek, and his soul broke at the grime he found there.
"Do you honestly have no inkling of knowledge on this matter? Has no flicker of a doubt ever crossed your mind about me?"
Hale had moved so much closer that his nose was nearly touching Proctor's now. He stared into his eyes, watching emotions flit through them like light on water.
"I'd damn us both now if I had any say in it."
He saw comprehension dawn in the prisoner's eyes.
Hale pushed himself forward the mere centimeters that were needed and slammed his lips to Proctor's in a kiss.
He closed his eyes and thought a brief prayer to a God he was sure now had turned its back on him.
His lips lingered for barely a moment, and it was more than enough to erase any doubts he had about choosing this man over the life that he knew.
Proctor's eyes stayed closed for a few seconds longer, and he had a slight crease in his brow.
"I am already a lecher once, John. Would you tempt me to turn from my wife once again as I wait for my death?"
The man's voice holds no grudge, just a sad sort of questioning.
"Isn't it obvious that God has already turned his back on us?" Hale's eyes are imploring, he wants Proctor to understand.
"No...I can't believe that." He pauses. "I do not know what happened here in Salem, but I do know this, man cannot know what God intends."
"Then how do you know He did not intend for this to happen?"
Proctor blinks at him for a minute, and every so often his brow creases in thought. At last, a rueful grin stretches across his face.
"You're very clever, aren't you?"
Hale is taken aback by Proctor's easy acceptance of his theory. He almost smiles, but then he catches a glimpse of the sky through the bars behind Proctor's head.
A wave of panic makes its way across his mind, and Proctor sees it on his face.
"Come here John."
Proctor reached forward as best as he could and pulled Hale down on top of him. The slighter man buried his face into the crook of John's neck and began to sob against it.
"Come, hush now. I am not dying so that tears may be shed on my grave."
Hale sobbed a few more times into his neck before he straightened himself up. He looked at Proctor with tear-bright eyes.
"It's nearly dawn John, I can see it in the sky. How should I hold back my tears when I know that in just a few hours three more innocent people will be dead by my word?" He looked down for a minute, then said, softer, "How shold I stop myself from crying when in a few hours you will be naught but a memory?"
"I am not worth your tears or any other's when far more pious people have died before me for justness instead of pride."
A crazed laugh bubbled its way up through Hale's throat and he clutched onto Proctor's shirt with a desperate grip.
"You do not die for pride, John." He looked into his eyes, "You die for many things: your boys, your friends, your wife, and all of the others who have fallen to this madness, but you do not die for pride. You refuse to take any credit for what you are doing, refuse to admit that you are doing this for anyone but yourself..." Hale trailed off and kissed Proctor softly once before drawing back and speaking, "I feel that must be why I care for you so."
Their eyes met in the ever-brightening haze of the cell, and grief showed strong on Proctor's face for the first time that night.
"I fear death John, I do. I fear that when I die I will burn in hell for all of the sins I have committed in my life." He swallowed a cry and kept speaking, "But my boys! How can I teach them to be honest men when I sell my name to keep living!"
"How can you teach them to be honest men with your body buried in the ground?''
"Damn it!" He tossed his head to the eyes so that he would not see that hope and pain in Hale's eyes. "I have made my choice and you well know it."
"Aye, I do."
"And you will not judge me for it?" Proctor's face was still turned towards the wall, and he spoke softly with a voice laden with shame.
"No John, obviously these last few weeks have shown that no one but God has the right to judge a man."
Proctor turned to Hale and looked at him with searching eyes.
"….Aye, that at least I'm sure is true." He took a breath as though to continue speaking and paused. "I can see the light on your hair now. I fear our time together is fading."
Hale stifled a small sob and raised his eyes to look out the window.
Proctor reached for one of Hale's hands with a shackled one of his own, but could not reach.
"Give me your hand." Hale met his eyes and did what was asked of him. "You need to keep living, for me, for my family. " He squeezed his hand. "Keep an eye on my boys, please."
Hale swallowed and nodded his head. "I can manage that, for you John."
There was a noise at the door and both men jolted apart.
"Willard's coming for me now, surely. Remember my request John, and honor it."
"Aye, I will." Hale gulped to keep more tears from coming, "You're a good man, John Proctor."
He looked like the words struck him.
"It's your time, Proctor." Miller came in with his keys jingling and hiccuped, "Excuse me, Mr. Hale."
Hale managed to stand shakily.
"Of course, Mr. Willard."
He began to leave, but stopped once he got to the door. He took a deep breath and steadied himself again before turning and looking at Proctor one last time.
"I weep for Salem, John."
And with those parting words, Hale left so he would not have to see who appeared to be the only decent man left in Salem hang.
Well there you go!
I hope you liked it and it wasn't too terrible, I don't even know if anyone is creeping on this corner of the internet.