Robert Lovelace awakes in a darkened room, face pressed into an unforgiving wooden floor, limbs awkwardly splayed, when he hadn't expected to wake up at all.
He takes a ragged breath and rolls onto his side. He sees his own blood pooled on the floor, feels the wound in his gut pulse with a pain so liquid and complete it fills every aspect of him, envelops him. He curls in on himself, a clenched fist pushing at the wound, the mortal injury inflicted by Jack, by his best friend.
He lets himself feel the pain of the cut he had welcomed, pain that had been fair payment for the torment he had brought to a good woman, to Clarissa. The pain overwhelms him and he feels himself dying. Again. Feels the darkness take hold, feels oblivion leech away all conscious thought until there is only dark, only black, only nothing.
"Oh, no, it’s not that simple."
The voice calls him back. A rough voice, with a flat accent he cannot place.
Gasping, he finds himself in the same darkened room. But this time there is no blood, no wound, only the echo of the pain that had consumed him. He pushes himself up slowly, one hand tentatively feeling for the place where Jack’s sword had entered him, violated him as he had violated so many women.
There's nothing there. Even the shadow pain is fading now.
"Christ," he gasps, trying to make sense of this senseless situation.
"There'll be no mention of the Nazarene here," the voice says.
He turns his head, straining to see the owner of that voice. The man is crouched in the corner, shrouded in a darkness that makes his features impossible to discern.
"Where am I?" he asks.
"Where are you? That is the question, isn't it?" The man stands and begins to walk toward him. He makes a strange flick with his wrist, and suddenly the room is flooded with light. Lovelace gasps as he recognizes this place: the fencing salle. Where he practiced with Jack. Where he planned his conquests. Where he died.
He looks down, fighting the urge to squeeze his eyes shut. But that would be cowardly and Robert Lovelace is no coward. Instead, he looks over to where the sound of footsteps and the rustle of clothing mark his companion's movement toward him. He can see the man clearly now, but has no better idea of his identity: a dark-haired man with an unfashionable beard and outlandish black clothes that even a Puritan would shun.
Before he d-…before he would have avoided this man in the street. Now, it seems he is the only source of information he has.
"Why am I still here?" he asks, despising the pleading note in his own voice.
"Well, strictly speaking you're not ‘here.'" The man makes a sweeping gesture that encompasses the salle. "I only gave the place this appearance because--" he stops to give a grin as wide as it is unsettling "--it amuses me."
"If I'm not where I appear to be, then where am I?"
The man is only a single step away, but he stops and drops to his haunches again.
"You mean you really don't know? You haven't guessed yet?" He laughs, an unpleasant sound with no real humour in it. "Why Robert, my dear lost lamb, you're in my realm now."
"No." Fear begins to clench his gut as a suspicion forms in his soul.
"Ah, yes. The light begins to dawn. Or should I say, the darkness begins to fall."
"You're not real. You're a fairy story. An invention of the Church, a tale told by vicars to keep the sheep in line."
"The Church may be a congregation of fools, but they do get some things right." The voice is rough and low now, he has to strain to hear it. "I'm very real. Just as you are very dead."
The pain is back again, tenfold. He looks down to see a torrent of blood emerge from his wound. He doubles over, eyes glazing in terror as he struggles to concentrate on what the man, the fiend, is saying.
"Here, you have to play by my rules; live by my consequences. I can cause you unspeakable agony." A hand reaches out to grip his belly and the pain that he thought could not grow any worse, does, blots out his entire existence. But he can still hear the voice. "Or I can soothe it all away." The absence of the pain is so abrupt that it leaves him breathless.
He hears the man move that extra foot towards him and now he feels hot breath at his neck. A hand runs through his hair, and it's only then that he realizes his locks are loose, not bound into place, not forced into the curls that style demands. Instead, they flow over his shoulders, an unruly tide that makes him feel strangely vulnerable.
"You have no idea how many hours of enjoyment you gave me. Constructing your little schemes. Despoiling the pure. Encouraging the debauched."
"Yes," the man, the demon, Lucifer says, his voice tinged with a breathless triumph. "Oh, yes." The hand continues to stroke through his hair. "And this last one was your masterpiece."
Lucifer's hand stops its gentle movement and cruelly twines around a hank of hair. Lovelace's head is yanked back, leaving his throat painfully exposed.
"Clarissa," the fiend continues. "I followed your schemes concerning her most closely. I can honestly say I wasn't sure what I was hoping for more: that you would corrupt her, or that you would despoil her and damn yourself even more thoroughly than before." Lucifer leans in even closer until he takes up Lovelace's whole field of view, until there is no escaping him. "I'm sure she's singing in the heavenly choirs now, and irritating even the angels with her goodness. And you…you have fallen to my care."
His head is pulled back even further until he is sure his neck will break. And then Lucifer does the one thing he did not expect: he falls upon Lovelace's mouth with a kiss that tastes of sulphur and ashes. Lovelace is too shocked to fight back, feels only ice forming in his limbs.
Lucifer pauses in his assault to offer more taunts. "Did it excite you, Robert?" His name rolls off this beast's tongue like the foulest curse, like the sweetest endearment. "The seduction? The rape? Knowing you had them in your power, as I have you in mine?"
"No, I wasn't like you." He tries to struggle but has no strength left in him. "I meant no harm."
"Tell that to Clarissa. Tell that to the other dead women, the disgraced, the dispossessed. Tell that to your victims."
Lovelace tries to speak, tries to defend himself, deny the charges. Tries, but cannot. Words have failed him.
Lucifer laughs at his speechlessness and leans in closer. He takes hold of the front of Lovelace's shirt and pulls, rending it into rags with no apparent effort. Throwing aside the cloth, he draws a single fingernail down the expanse of Lovelace's chest, leaving a thin line of blood and trail of fiery pain.
"Do you enjoy this?" The nail digs into his side even as the voice murmurs in his ear.
"No," he says, his voice barely a whisper. He clenches his eyes shut and feels moisture on his cheek.
"No?" Lucifer sounds almost disappointed. "Well, then, how if I take another face? Perhaps this one?"
He can't help it. Curiosity forces him to open his eyes. He's expecting to see Clarissa, or another of his conquests. Or perhaps one of his whores. He is not expecting to see Jack Belford's face looking at him with kindness and sympathy.
"Jack?" he asks, even as he knows that it cannot be. Knows that this is only another trick to deceive him. Jack had been his best friend in all the world, but now Jack hates him. Jack killed him for what he did to Clarissa.
"Would you like that?" The voice is not Jack's but that of the fiend. "Like to feel your friend's mouth at your throat?" The hands that are not Jack's play across his chest. "Like to feel his cock inside you?"
He can no longer speak, but simply shakes his head. The tears are running freely down his face now, but he doesn't care. Dignity is a luxury not allowed to the damned. The false Jack leans in and kisses a damp cheek with something resembling tenderness.
It is the tenderness that undoes him. He leans into the kiss, meets Jack's lips chastely, takes comfort from the contact with this thing that looks like his friend. The kiss deepens and he begins to forget who this really is. He wraps his arms around Jack, enjoying the generous warmth of his friend's body, so unlike the foul heat of the fiend. Their bodies begin to move together and Lovelace finds himself responding to Jack as he would to a woman. Blood flows to his cock with a delicious warmth. He closes his eyes and throws back his head, moaning in pleasure as he does so.
"You do want this, don't you?" Jack asks, and it is his voice, sweet and rough.
"Yes," Lovelace replies.
"Then, open your eyes," Jack says, and he must obey. But it is not Jack that he sees, not Jack his body is responding to. Lucifer has taken his own form again and looks at him with malice and triumph and lust.
A scream builds in his throat, but before it is released, his mouth is captured again. This time the kiss has no tenderness, no comfort but only malevolence and spite. He finds himself pinned in an unbreakable grip and his breeches, the last of his clothes, are ripped away.
Lucifer only adjusts his clothing enough to reveal his engorged cock, and that makes it worse, being naked and vulnerable when his rapist is fully clothed.
"Remember, you asked for this," Lucifer says, before he plunges his cock brutally into Lovelace's body.
The last vestiges of arousal flee as pain becomes Robert Lovelace's world. He wonders if this is how Clarissa felt, and if so, how she managed to forgive him. He will never be able to forgive his attacker, never be able to forgive himself.
With a roar, Lucifer achieves his release, and the flood of his seed causes more pain than Lovelace thought possible. This time he does scream, a sound more animal that human to his own ears. Lucifer pulls out with a look of victory and stands, his still erect cock jutting in front of him.
Lovelace rolls on his side and pulls his knees up in a vain attempt to hide his own shrivelled cock. He is beyond the need for tears, trying to seek a quiet place amongst the storm of his thoughts. He closes his eyes, wishing himself somewhere else, anywhere else. But he can still feel the hard floor beneath him, can hear the haggard breathing of Lucifer, the rustle of clothing as his unwanted companion straightens himself and these sensations anchor him to this despised reality.
A taloned hand digs into his shoulder and he curls further in on himself.
"Open your eyes, or I'll flay the flesh from your bones," Lucifer demands. He obeys; he can do nothing else.
The fiend leans over him with a leer.
"I have other business to attend to, but I will return. Sooner rather than later, I think. The pleasure you offer is too… delicious."
Lovelace tries to respond, but his scream has stripped his voice away. He can only mouth the words of denial, tremble in terror and loathing.
Lucifer's hand closes around his throat.
"Don't worry, it won't always be like this. Perhaps next time I'll even let you feel pleasure." He pauses, cocking his head to one side as if considering his next move in the game. "Perhaps next time I'll only appear as Jack. That is, after all, what you want."
Lovelace's eyes widen in horror, even as his cock twitches in interest.
Lucifer catches the movement of his flesh and smiles even wider. "That's what I thought." He stands and with a clap of thunder is gone.
Left alone, Lovelace sits up and tries to pull the scraps remaining of his garments around him. He tries to cry, wants to sob with despair at his pain and his shame. Wants to cry for the unending torment he sees stretching out before him, for the loss of Clarissa's gentle regard and Jack's friendship. But his eyes remain dry; he has no more tears left.
And he wonders if it is a sign of his eternal damnation that he half-hopes that when Lucifer returns, it is in Jack's body.
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