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all places shall be hell that are not you

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“Nay, an this be hell, I'll willingly be damned here,” Faustus cries, his eyes fixed on Mephistophilis, and suddenly, for reasons he cannot immediately discern, Mephistophilis feels that, aye, so would he be willingly damned here if it means he can look upon that face a while longer, and perhaps twenty years and four will feel like an eternity caught in the gaze of those eyes.

Faustus bleeds for him, a long line running down his forearm, the strongest form of promise Mephistophilis knows (the only form of promise Mephistophilis knows, and it is a shame the exchange of blood was for a soul and not for a heart), and Mephistophilis smiles. He leans one hand on the table behind him, the other caught in Faustus’ hair, and sighs deeply into Faustus’ open mouth, wondering, O, what will not I do to obtain his heart?

But when four and twenty years have passed, and Faustus stands before his Lord bartering the years of his soul for a brief sight of — Mephistophilis shudders to think the word — paradise, the demon wonders if perhaps ten thousand years could be enough to fill the void of hell with something better, or if the loss of his Master Doctor to Christ is his true eternal damnation. It would belie him to stay silent betwixt the words of his lover and his Lord, but his words catch in his throat and stick there, his eyes on the grain of the wooden floor and his mind turned towards hell.

 

One night, in Faustus’ chamber, the bedclothes tangled on the floor, Mephistophilis tells that heaven is not half so fair as what lies between Faustus’ thighs. His body stings whene’er his lover mouths the word, repent.

 

“His soul,” Lucifer had commanded, pale face contorting into a smile, because the Fallen Lord had always seen faster than Mephistophilis how happenings of this sort would end. And Mephistophilis had gone gladly, bearing the news to his new Master Doctor, to his blood-sworn, to his Faustus.

Yet his Faustus, lying in bed, had commanded yet again to be brought a wife.

“Sweet Mephistophilis—”

“Move me not,” Mephistophilis would respond each time. “Think thou on hell, Faustus, for thou art damned.” Yet, when he said “hell,” he intended “I;” and “damned” were to have been “loved already.” And damned he was, as Mephistophilis was damned to love a man so blind to lover’s love.

Love, he knows, is a word his Lord would not allow him to utter, and so he utters it instead in code, traces it on his lover’s skin with his tongue, bites it back in the hollow of his throat. A demon such as he, surely, is not a beast capable of such a virtue. Lust must be more appropriate for a fallen angel such as he.

 

One day, early on, Wagner tries to banish Mephistophilis back to hell, the thin tome balanced in one shaking hand, and mangles the incantation, leaving the demon bleeding on the floor of Faustus’ study (and who knew that demons could bleed and bleed until a human would be drained and continue to bleed) and when Faustus finds him, Faustus kisses his brows and mumbles the new incantation into his skin, tracing symbols with Mephistophilis’ blood, the exchange of blood for blood that finally makes them equals.

Blood that -- would he were human -- would run cold to see Faustus fall to his knees, eyes thrown to the heavens, hands clasped in prayer, muttering, "ah, my Christ!" Blood that -- would he were human -- would stop in its veins to watch the Fallen Lord drag Faustus bodily down into hell, to hear the anguished scream, the "ah, Mephistophilis!" as the clock struck midnight.

He lingered a while in the study once his Master Doctor has descended, fallen to his knees, looking at his trembling hands. And slowly, slowly -- though he would ne'er admit, ne'er concede -- he watched those same hands clasp together and raise above his head towards the sky in an attempt at prayer, thinking that if damnation was what he deserved, it was a punishment best served eternally away from his love.