Nandor was having A Week.
First Guillermo walked out on him, AGAIN. Left him to rot like the scattering of leaky, overripe bodies clogging up the house’s hallways. That abandonment alone was enough of a blow to keep Nandor sulking in his coffin for at least a decade or two, if given the opportunity. But he wasn’t even granted that dignity, no; next there was the whole laundry debacle, and the humiliation of having to owe Colin-fucking-Robinson such a formidible debt (though truth be told, the worst part of it was realizing that Guillermo must have been silently braving the grave trial of laundering all along, for Nandor’s sake. And for the other two, but mostly for Nandor, his spurned master. Is that why he’d left? The dread laundering simply became too much to bear?) Still, Nandor had clung to the stubborn sliver of optimism that if nothing else, they had finally been invited to the Nouveau Théâtre, which simply had to turn the whole mood around, right? At least it would be a fleeting distraction from the looping scenes of a certain ex-familiar he couldn’t seem to stop replaying in his head.
Nandor could feel the silver ropes singe deeper into his skin as he stared at that very ex-familiar standing solitary in a sea of vampiric gore, panting and glaring with a gaze so flinted, Nandor felt his cold flesh prickle. If his heart could beat, it would be racing, though he could not yet decipher with what exact emotion. For a suspended moment, he and Guillermo simply locked eyes, unmoving, frozen in the breath after a deep and irreversible tectonic shift.
But now the other three vampires were stiffening warily in their bindings, and Nandor suddenly became keenly aware of the shift in the atmosphere, from impressed shock to suspicious hostility. With a wave of panic, he realized that he needed to remind everyone that in spite of present circumstances, this was Guillermo – his subservient, bumbling, absolutely-not-a-threat Guillermo. He darted a glance around for the camera crew, hoping their presence would help tamp down any brewing outlash against the singular human; but it seemed they had fled in the chaos.
He cleared his throat quickly, schooling his tone into his usual condescending chastisement.
“Guillermo… Is there something you haven’t been telling us?”
Silently he pleaded with the bloodied man. Please, he thought, bow your head. Stammer and apologize. Pretend this was all a strange accident, like it was with Carol. Come back to us. Come back to me. Come back to what you were before.
Guillermo continued gazing into his master’s wide eyes, but he didn’t seem to read the implicit message, or just didn’t care to answer it. Instead, he raised his chin just so, and in a ringing voice pronounced without a stutter,
“My name is Guillermo de la Cruz.”
Nandor felt his throat clench, burning more than his wrists. Beautiful, astonishing, stupid Guillermo. Couldn’t he play the part?!
“Don’t care what the fuck your name is, we had to pick up our own laundry! ” Nandor roared, and now it wasn’t all an act; somehow real rage rose into his voice, hurt and resentment, fear and regret and longing. Guillermo didn’t flinch, but his eyes darkened even further, piercing Nandor to the core. Anything else he could have said died on his bloodless lips as Guillermo strode briskly to the stage, tossing the stake in his hand aside. The clatter caused Lazlo to jump, and Nadja hissed, baring her fangs in warning.
“Don’t come any closer, you dirty stinking vampire killer!” she bit out, thrusting her face forward as if to lunge at him. But Guillermo still didn’t break his stride, climbing up beside them and wordlessly loosening the knots, fingers deft. As soon as the ropes slackened, Lazlo and Nadja scrambled to the shadowy curtains, with Colin Robinson following slowly behind, squinting askance at Guillermo. Nandor stayed in his seat, shoulders hunched as if still bound. His eyes were fixed to the stage paneling, where he saw Guillermo’s stained shoes round his seat to stand in front of him.
Nandor twitched, an impulsive rebuke on his tongue for the informal address. But it, too, crumbled in his mouth, while some detached part of him perked its ears at the novel sound of his own name in Guillermo’s voice, hardened though it was. If he waited some more to look up, would he hear it again? Would it soften? Would it sharpen? Would it kill him, or worse, leave him once more…?
But it turned out none of those things happened, because rather than repeat himself, Guillermo knelt on the ground, forcing his face into Nandor’s field of vision. He heard Nadja hiss in alarm from the stage shadows, and Lazlo pulling her back, murmuring some restraining word. Nandor froze up again, caught off guard for the millionth time by the actions of a human he thought he knew so well, this human with a stormy brow and burning eyes and soft, soft lips.
“Look at me.”
Nandor smelled sweat and blood and martyrdom on the words, and reluctantly, he obeyed. Guillermo’s curly hair was matted in places around his temples, spatters of dried gore sprayed across his tan cheeks. His eyelashes were long and dark and a little bit gritty, like tears had dried on them recently. Or maybe not only recently. Nandor’s stomach was a black pit.
He watched helplessly as Guillermo opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again. Worried at his lip with his straight, unsharpened teeth. Finally, he sighed. Some of his familiar softness edged back into his expression.
“Are your wrists alright?”
Nandor felt warm hands encircle his own cold ones gingerly, tugging them forward so that his heavy brocade sleeves pulled away from where the ropes had burned him. The ugly red lines were beginning to blister. Guillermo brushed around the damaged skin with tender, barely-there touches, then sighed again, seeming to make up his mind about something.
“Okay. It was completely insane of you guys to come here and I don’t know what will happen after all this, but right now you all should eat something, heal your injuries and regain your strength. I think–”
“Why should we trust you, you lying little stake-stabber?” Nadja cut in, tone dripping with acid. “And whose fault is it that it has come to this? We should eat your chubby soft body right now, drain you of all your traitorous–”
“ No. No, Nadja.” This time it was Nandor who interrupted as he rose to his feet, voice booming with an edge of such threatening brutality that Nadja was temporarily stunned into silence, eyebrows raised. “No one is to eat Guillermo. He just saved our lives. It is not our way.”
“Not our way? You stupid bloody donkey brain, are there maggots in that pumpkin head of yours? This is a slayer we are talking about, not your cute pet familiar. Or did you forget that he left you like old fermenting goat cheese?”
Nadja’s cutting words hit their mark in Nandor’s raw chest, but he continued to scowl at her, shifting imperceptibly to be just a little in front of Guillermo, who was ignoring Nadja in favor of staring up at his former master with a strange, uncertain expression.
“You are right,” Nandor ground out slowly. “He is not my familiar anymore. But he is… he is something. It will be annoying to replace him. So we will not eat him. We will listen to what he has to say when he,” here he stopped and glanced hesitantly down at Guillermo, “ if he comes back to the house with us.”
“I should bloody well say he’s coming back to the house with us,” Lazlo gruffed without waiting for a response, avoiding looking directly at Guillermo. “We can’t very well leave a slayer on the loose, as my good lady wife says. We’ll tie him up and stab him a few times to make sure he’s weak, and then perhaps–”
“No stabbing,” Nandor barked, interrupting again. “We have the cell in the basement. He is still a pathetic human. He will not escape.” He looked furtively back to Guillermo, desperately willing him to go along with it for the second time. He saw the conflict on the man’s features, the bitterness and worry and exhaustion, but the softness from before was not entirely gone, and when he met Nandor’s earnest eyes, he gave the most imperceptible nod. For now, Nandor knew it meant. He gave a tiny nod back, promising more sincerely than he could remember ever having done before, though the oath was a silent one. Only for now. Then we will fix this.
“You guys are creepy,” Colin Robinson deadpanned, looking back and forth between Nandor and Guillermo’s faces. He then glanced over to Lazlo and Nadja, raising his brows with a sardonic glow lighting his eyes. “Are you sure you want to let Nandor get away with this? It seems like he’s not taking the whole slayer thing very seriously. He could be putting the house in danger by going so easy on Gizmo.”
Nadja’s brows furrowed again, but before she could respond Nandor suddenly grabbed Guillermo by the collar and lifted him easily with one hand, shaking him in the air a little. Guillermo yelped in surprise, but just barely managed to resist the instinct to reach for his stakes. Choosing to put his trust in the unspoken promise they had just made, he let his limbs dangle pitifully.
“Colin Robinson,” Nandor thundered, squeezing Guillermo’s collar so that he gasped a little, “I can promise you, I am not going so easy on Guillermo. As the master of a disobedient ex-familiar, I am going to punish him severely for his mistakes. Thoroughly and severely, ” he punctuated again with his deadliest growl, hissing as he dropped Guillermo bodily to the ground, ripping a non-silver rope from the stage curtains as he did so. He then tied it roughly around Guillermo and wrenched it back up again, forcing Guillermo upright even as his chest ached painfully at the performance. Guillermo was quiet, head bowed and shoulders slumped. The other vampires fell silent, and the glow faded from Colin Robinson’s eyes, replaced by bored disappointment. Nadja scoffed uncomfortably.
“Yes. Well. No need to yank the soft little meatball around so much. We will go hunting now and meet you back at the house. I do not feel like discussing this terrible disgusting mess until tomorrow,” Nadja waved her hands around at the destroyed theatre, “but you will put him in the cell after his punishment and we will deal with it later.”
“Right. Exactly,” Lazlo hurriedly and uselessly added, putting his arm around Nadja and casting his eyes about for a good crevice to slip through. “Off we go, my darling. Bat!”
The two of them vanished in squeaking, fluttering smoke, and Colin Robinson squinted once more at Guillermo’s downcast form before shrugging and turning around.
“Oh, well. Maybe I can go mix up some garbage bins. Just around midnight is a good time to move them so that they get knocked down or spill all over cars when collection comes.” He hummed to himself, hands in the pockets of his beige slacks as he meandered out of the building. “Oh, and thanks for saving us, Gizmo,” he called faintly, “hope Nandor doesn’t tear you apart.”
The door swung shut, and the theater was empty of all but the two of them.
Nandor hurriedly undid the rope bindings on Guillermo, covertly brushing him off and checking for injuries from his staged rough handling and the slaughtered vampires. It was hard to visually differentiate the muck and gore from bruises and scratches, but Nandor couldn’t smell very much of Guillermo’s deliciously-scented blood outside of his body, so that was very good. He busied himself with searching and sniffing, awkwardly avoiding Guillermo’s eyes.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you,” Nandor muttered shamefaced at Guillermo’s shoulder, which shifted as the man sighed, swaying unsteadily on his feet. Nandor reflexively put a hand on his arm, and was alarmed when the human slouched against it. “Guillermo?”
“S’ okay, Nandor, I know. You were tryin to protect me,” he slurred, swaying even more. “Sorry, I’m real tired all of a sudden. I know we have a lot to talk about, but can you put me in the cell already? Unless you really do want to punish me first,” he murmured dryly, giving a small crooked grin. “I might fall asleep during, though.”
Nandor couldn’t help it. In one smooth motion he scooped the smaller man up, lifting him easily with his arms cradling his shoulders and legs. Guillermo flopped gracelessly against his broad chest, but kept his eyes cracked open and looking up, the grin still there. Or maybe it was a grimace. A grinace?
“I’m still mad at you.”
“I know.” For all his large frame, Nandor couldn’t contain much more guilt than this. He was saturated.
“And I really missed you.”
Nandor almost dropped Guillermo, and not for the first time. Guillermo just let out a little crazed, drowsy laugh.
“You… you did?”
“Yeah. Of course I did. I was worried, too, for obviously good reasons.”
Nandor felt the phantom sensation of blushing, like his body was trying to pump blood that wasn’t there up to his face. He cleared his throat and gathered his arms just a little more snugly around the filthy man in his hold.
“I missed you, too, Guillermo. Relentlessly,” he added softly, watching his human’s eyelids flutter closed as he strode out of the ruined building and prepared to fly off into the night, setting course for home. Because it was home, not just a house, with the right people inside; it would be bumpy while they figured it out, and it might take more uncomfortable acting for a while, but they could win the others over. The most important thing was already – literally – in his hands.
“Thank you,” he whispered, the first ardent prayer in centuries.
His divine warrior snored softly in his arms.
Nandor snuck quietly into the house, tense shoulders slowly easing when it became clear the others had not returned yet. Careful not to jostle Guillermo, he made his way downstairs to the bowels of the old structure, hovering a few inches off the ground to avoid the creakier floorboards. When at last he made it to the deepest cellar, he hesitated in the doorway, surveying the decrepit cage in the center of the dank room. Was he really going to leave Guillermo in here?
Nandor startled, though his reflex this time was to squeeze Guillermo more tightly to his chest. Guillermo squeaked, rubbing the sleep and grime out of his eyes as he squirmed a little more upright, hesitantly winding an arm around Nandor’s neck for support as he took a turn absorbing the dismal scene. Nandor supposed he could put him back down now that he was awake, but his hands were not cooperating with the idea.
“Ah… Guillermo. You are awake. We have arrived at the cell,” he announced awkwardly, casting his eyes down with shame, “but I admit that I do not want to put you in it.”
To his surprise, Guillermo just gave an exasperated laugh. Was he imagining the slight, comforting squeeze of the human’s elbow around his neck?
“It’s alright, master. I think we should just go along with this for now, until the others calm down enough to see that I won’t hurt them. Though I’m worried the council will hurt you all before we get this sorted,” here he frowned, tired eyes scanning distractedly; but his expression just as quickly cleared as he did a double-take at the cage. “Actually, hang on a second. I think I’ve been down here before to fetch something for Lazlo. Could you, um, set me down?”
Nandor didn’t move, so Guillermo slowly snaked his arm away and gave an uncertain wiggle, nervously adjusting his glasses.
“Why do you call me this again? You have done it thrice.”
Guillermo blinked. Nandor’s keen ears could hear his heart rate begin to speed up.
“You mean, ‘master’...? I thought you didn’t like me calling you by your name?”
Nandor frowned, wishing he hadn’t said anything, because now he didn’t know what to say next. It was confusing, all of the feelings that had been wrestling around in his chest since Guillermo swung onto the stage this evening; and really, since quite a while before that. So confusing, so uncomfortable. He was tempted to growl, to dump Guillermo unceremoniously to the ground and storm off. But it was still as if his arms were riveted around the human, instinctively and stubbornly refusing to release something they had very nearly lost forever. And… he had made a promise, hadn’t he? Things needed to be fixed.
Nandor sighed through his nose.
“You are… no longer my familiar,” he muttered haltingly, avoiding Guillermo’s eyes. “You know this as well as I. You even called me by my name in the theatre. Why are you changing it back again? I do not think that I… that it is right, anymore.”
He still couldn’t look at Guillermo’s face, but he could feel him warm up against his hands, heart still thrumming. He heard Guillermo sigh, breath shaking a little bit at the end of the exhale.
“I slipped up in the theatre. I didn’t mean anything threatening by it, but it probably would look better to the others if I kept up the whole grovelling thing, so I will be careful from now on, especially around the house. Maybe we can think of another title to use for my servitude. But,” he hesitated, tipping his head to bump against Nandor’s shoulder and obscure his face, “when… when it’s just the two of us, what would you like me to call you…?”
Nandor didn’t need to look down to know Guillermo was blushing. He could feel the heat of the human’s blood through his embroidered woolen doublet and fur cloak, warming a patch of his own broad chest in the shape of the small man’s round cheek. Was this the same creature who singlehandedly slaughtered dozens of vampires without batting a brown eye?
Nandor couldn’t seem to locate his voice. He cleared his throat gruffly.
“I do not know. Perhaps I will know better once I have heard you say my name a few more times. In private, of course. Only in private,” he emphasized again, trying to sound stern and foreboding. Guillermo nodded quickly, silently. The cheekprint on Nandor’s chest was positively glowing with warmth.
“O-ok… Nandor. Can you put me down now?”
This seemed to be the magic spell to finally unfuse Nandor’s hands from Guillermo’s body. He clumsily pried his arms away, trying to be gentle as he set the diminutive man back on his feet. Guillermo took a few unsteady steps, straightening his stained clothes with sweaty, shaky hands. Then he walked quickly towards the cage with a nervous cough. Nandor glided along behind him, nonplussed.
“Um, okay. So like I said, I remember coming down here before, and I’m pretty sure there’s a way besides the door to pull this– yes!” Guillermo pried away a seemingly sturdy section of the cell bars to reveal a hole large enough to pass through, gesturing triumphantly. “We can use this! You can make a big show of locking me up securely so the others feel safe, and then during the day while you’re in your coffins and Colin Robinson is at work, I’ll sneak out and do the cleaning and surveillance, so that the council can’t attack you unawares. I’ll just bring some of my stuff downstairs,” he beamed, replacing the bars and appraising the abject space with his hands on his hips, head cocked. “My bed and fridge will fit… oh, and I’ve been meaning to set up some cameras around the property, better do that now so I can monitor the assassins from inside the cell when needed. Don’t worry, I’ve gotten pretty used to not sleeping. There’s no way I’ll let any of them get to you...”
Guillermo went on murmuring cheerfully to himself, but the rest faded into static in Nandor’s ears. He was stunned, his world turned upside-down for the second time that night. It felt like being thrown from a thrashing horse, like falling in the heat of battle and losing all sense of direction, staring down from the bloodied ground with the smoke-white sky yawning up to swallow him whole. But it wasn’t the sky, it was a man; a small, soft, mortal man who’s holy destiny was meant to stake a definitive period in the long run-on sentence of Nandor’s dark existence, and yet…
“Nandor, you okay?”
Guillermo had turned to fully face him, face wrinkled in concern. He reached a hand out slowly, like calming a spooked animal. “Is it your wrists? Do they hurt?”
Guillermo tilted his head, letting his hand drop back to his side.
Nandor felt like he was being forced back into mortality, plunged into a roaring, roiling sea of emotion with fragile, fragile lungs.
“We are imprisoning you, and you are talking of protecting us. Why would you... Why have you… For so long, for this house, for me…”
Nandor suddenly sat down heavily on a battered storage crate, his great legs giving out beneath him. He hunched in on himself, covering his face with his hands. For the first time in his unending life as vampire, king, warrior, and man, Nandor felt utterly wretched. His eyes prickled, burning with an unfamiliar sting. His broad shoulders trembled.
“What are you doing here, Guillermo?”
His voice came out in a broken whisper, swallowed by the silent room.
For several moments, nothing stirred. Nandor could not even hear Guillermo’s breath, nor his pulse, as if his vital signs all agreed with the sentiment of Nandor’s question and finally excused themselves for good. Nandor had the abysmal feeling that he would look up and Guillermo would have simply disappeared into thin air, transmuted to the place of golden sunlight and righteous honor he so rightly deserved, never to return to this hellhole for all eternity. Nandor’s dead heart had leapt in his chest in the theatre, desperate and determined never to let Guillermo go again; he was ready to do anything, go to any length, sink his claws and teeth into any sign of misplaced pity or tenderness Guillermo showed, gouging and biting and holding fast as a bear trap. Unwavering. Relentless.
But now… he saw. He saw Guillermo . Not Guillermo the familiar, not Guillermo the human, not even Guillermo the vampire slayer. Nandor saw Guillermo de la Cruz , the man who would destroy himself on the pyre of devotion to stand by Nandor’s cursed side. What could drive him to such lengths was still a mystery to Nandor; but what was now damningly clear was what Nandor should do. What Nandor should have done all along.
He couldn’t bring himself to raise his eyes from his hands.
“Guillermo, I hereby release you from all of your duties and fealties to me, as a familiar or otherwise. I will make sure the others know nothing of where you go, and that the vampiric council is notified of your demise. We will protect ourselves now. You must leave.”
Nandor finished his grave proclamation, then waited in silence.
Finally he could hear Guillermo intake a little breath.
And then he heard Guillermo laughing.
Nandor whipped his head up, staring in shock at the sight of the helplessly giggling human, doubled over and beginning to wheeze with mirth. A flash of uncomprehending anger went through him, and he opened his mouth, but Guillermo cut him off with a wave.
“Nandor, wait, wait,” he gasped, trying to control his breathing and stumbling closer to clap his hands onto Nandor’s shoulders. Even with Guillermo standing and Nandor seated, they were almost at eye level. Guillermo hunched a little lower to bring his face close, tickling Nandor’s cheeks with his unsteady breaths. Shyly, he lifted one hand from Nandor’s shoulder to brush a lock of his sleek hair from his pouting face.
“Nandor, please don’t be angry. I wasn’t laughing at you, I just… I’m just happy, I guess. To see you understand,” Guillermo smiled, keeping his fingers gently laced in Nandor’s hair to run against his scalp. Nandor leaned into it in spite of himself, drawing on what little experience he had with patience to keep listening, to try to catch up.
“What do I... understand?”
Guillermo was still smiling, his face flushed and so openly fond Nandor couldn’t tear his eyes away.
“You understand me . Or part of me, anyways,” he winked, and Nandor almost melted to the floor, “but let me fill in the blanks. I know things are going to change after this, as they should; but no matter what, I am never really going to leave you. Every time I’ve tried, I’ve come back, and it wasn’t all for your benefit, so stop feeling so sorry for yourself. And as for why I do all of this and what I am doing here again, well…”
Nandor was still, still. Guillermo was so close and so warm.
“I love you, Nandor.”
And Guillermo kissed him.
Nandor’s first mental impulse was to pull away in bewildered panic; luckily, his hands once again processed information and want much faster than his brain did. He wrapped his arms around the stooping man and pulled him into his lap, crushing him close so swiftly and insistently that Guillermo yelped against his mouth, struggling to free his legs to wrap around Nandor’s hips, neither breaking contact. Guillermo’s hand wound further into Nandor’s thick hair while the other came up to cradle the juncture where his jaw met his neck, pressing with warm fingers. Nandor groaned like a wounded animal, because he was wounded, pierced deeper than all the fiendish fangs or sacred stakes combined, laid bare to be eviscerated however his little executioner saw fit. Guillermo’s lips were rougher than they appeared, raw with constant fretting, and Nandor could taste the faintest trace of blood on the slightly-parted press of the human’s warm mouth. He moaned again, struggling to be gentle as he carefully angled his face to lick hesitantly at Guillermo’s chapped lips.
The effect was instantaneous, as he felt the man tremor violently in his arms with a strangled gasp, reflexively tightening his grip in Nandor’s hair. Nandor growled at the tingle in his scalp, repeating the motion and daring to stroke his tongue a little deeper into Guillermo’s panting mouth, where Guillermo’s own tongue shyly brushed up against his, wet and inviting. Desire kindled hungrily in his belly as Nandor’s hands began to roam, kneading and pressing, greedily mapping the body blazing with warmth and strength and life, slipping his searching hands under the layers of trenchcoat, vest, and shirt to finally smooth against heated skin, decadently soft and supple. Closer, he needed to be closer.
“Nandor,” Guillermo gasped, breaking away from the kiss and tilting slightly back to look him in the eyes. Nandor let out a sound suspiciously like a whine as he tried to chase the man’s lips, both hands under his clothes splaying out and pressing needily against Guillermo’s spine, attempting to pull him back. Guillermo laughed breathlessly but still leaned just out of reach, reluctantly shaking his head.
“Nandor, hold on. As much as– as I want to, um, continue,” Nandor couldn’t tear his gaze from the blown-out blackness of Guillermo’s eyes, glossy and dilated and focused only on him, “I need to look all locked up before the others get home, and it’ll be easier to bring my things down while they’re out. I don’t think there’s a lot of time left before dawn,” he added, reverently stroking both of his hands down the sides of Nandor’s face as if he couldn’t quite believe he was allowed such a thing, thumbs brushing his cheeks. “I’m gonna miss getting you ready for your coffin, for… well, for however long it takes to convince them, I guess.” A wistful look stole into his eyes. Nandor suddenly wanted very much to fling his vampiric housemates into the ether. He frowned solemnly, dropping and winding his arms to envelop Guillermo in a hug. He tipped his head down to rest in the crook of the human’s neck, brushing it with his nose as he held him close, his whole being curled around Guillermo like melting wax around a burning wick.
“If you are certain you wish to stay, Guillermo, I will help you bring whatever it is you want down here. I do not like this situation at all,” he growled, pressing his face more insistently into Guillermo’s thumping pulse, “but I will do everything in my power to convince Lazlo and Nadja of your brave and loyal actions. And I will wait for you,” he continued before he could lose his nerve, emboldened by the sound of Guillermo’s galloping heart, “I will wait for you to put me to bed again and join me in it, if that is what you want, also. Because I, too… love you, Guillermo de la Cruz,” he finished softly, closing his eyes just to sharpen his senses that much further, drowning in the warmth, the smell, the sound of Guillermo’s breath catching on a small sob. Guillermo sniffed, wrapping his own arms around as much of Nandor as he could encircle.
“I hope you know I play for keeps,” he mumbled thickly into Nandor’s cloak. “Like, eternal keeps. Even if you try to put it off.”
Nandor hummed. “We will look for a bigger coffin first. And a new familiar for the daytime. Though it is a pretty hard position to fill,” he murmured, pressing a kiss to Guillermo’s neck. “With only one exception for promotion.”
Guillermo’s shoulders shook with a chuckle. “It might be a demotion. Falling from grace, and all that.”
Grace will only follow where you fall, Nandor thought. He squeezed Guillermo tightly.
“As long as I am the one to catch you,” said the damned to the divine.