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Tiger and Flame.

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When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?


Falling wasn't too bad. It wasn't as good as Heaven, but an Endless Fall...really, you could get used to it. If you tried hard enough. If you forgot about the sulfur, the burning, the sweet-god-no-let-me-repent of it all. If you died on the way down.

Something in Lucifer died on the way down. It wasn't his arrogance, or his pride, or any of the half-dozen things that had gotten him in God's bad graces. But his surety was gone. He didn't miss it until one day he poked at a sleeping seminary student and had his breath taken away. Not sure what to do or how to proceed, he fled.

But he never stopped watching the student. He watched through vigils and confessions, and secret clandestine meetings between students of like-minds. He watched as meeting ceased, as rosaries were clutched, as Thomas took those doubting steps to become a priest.

He watched that day in the church when Thomas lost his faith. He watched with Simon, with Gabriel, with every angel who itched to take the man for his own. But they couldn't do more than itch, not while Lucifer was watching.

He claimed the man, finally, in a desert that felt too much like flame for his well-being. He had Thomas in one fell swoop, just as he always understood. For Thomas' was a soul that begged to be claimed and owned. After refusing to lose it to vocation, he lost it to Hell, and never found his lost faith.

Lucifer wouldn't have it any other way.

And Thomas proved to be such a willing victim. So easily corruptible. So easily swayed. His hopelessness matched Lucifer's with such fire and intensity that even Gabriel burned. Pain might be concealed within Lucifer's long black fingernails, but Thomas' was a will to match.

Slavery was almost too easy.

Lucifer didn't set out to make Thomas like him. He merely wanted a companion. Satan worshippers had for years uncountable held Lucifer higher than Jehovah. But Thomas was too much of a doubter to perform any more worship than physical.

Enslaving the soul, however, was pitifully simple.

All it took was a little push, a little pull, a simple twist and kiss. Thomas secluded himself, quit his job, stopped staying in touch with friends. He spent the days huddling in the corner of his two-room apartment, waiting for his master. Lucifer graced Thomas with his presence no more than three times a week and sat back to watch the process.

It took less than a year for Thomas to become completely dependant.

Lucifer sometimes took Thomas down to Hell for visits. It was always fun to mock his priest. He would point out the various levels, the eternal torture, and the spot reserved especially for doubting priests who try to kill angels. Thomas would never cry, not even when Lucifer would draw his blood over a screaming crusader and watch as yesterday turned into tomorrow and pain was the only thing that endured.

And Thomas...Thomas endured. He didn't thrive. He barely lived. But he survived. It was too late for him to be scared straight. His soul had been lost the moment Lucifer had looked on him and hesitated. But blackening this pure being had been almost too much a temptation and Lucifer had seized it gleefully. And Thomas was his.

"Little Tommy Daggett," Lucifer liked to whisper. "My little Tommy Daggett. Where are you precious prayers now, little doubting Thomas?" But Thomas never answered. Instead, he would lean into Lucifer's embrace and worship his body with his tongue. Thomas' devotion was more than skin-deep. Little Tommy lived for his dark master. But he never believed.

Lucifer, frankly, couldn't blame him.

And then came the day Lucifer was ordered to let Gabriel out. A very angry Gabriel. A very angry Gabriel who took his first opportunity as a free agent to hunt down the receiver of Lucifer's fascination. And kill him.

It wasn't a clean death. It wasn't a painless death. Thomas wasn't afraid to die for his faith. What Gabriel didn't understand was that Thomas didn't have any faith, not until the end.

And at the end, he waited for Lucifer to come to him. Not to save him, not to taunt him. Only to simply watch, and wait, and smile mysteriously. Thomas never expected to be saved. He only expected to be valued.

His death was mere entertainment for Gabriel. No petty revenge could be wreaked on his erstwhile captor. That wasn't the way things worked. Nothing was to be personal.

But Gabriel killed Thomas.

Resurrection was not a power foreign to Lucifer. With the proper stimulus and reason, he could raise the dead. But when he returned to Hell to find Thomas waiting for him, no doubt or accusation in his eyes, Lucifer did something he hadn't done since he fell.

He cried.


Did He who made the lamb make thee?