"Don't touch yourself, Thomas, it is a sin. Good little boys don't touch themselves, little boys keep themselves pure. For God," your mother would say when she tucked you in at night, her voice and face weary from the day's work.
"Put your hands over the cover, there's a good boy." Another gentle chiding admonition, but always with a hint of jealousy in her voice that you could not begin to comprehend.
Long after she'd closed the door to your bedroom and put the light out in the hallway her voice would ring in your ears, leaving you alone in the dark with your feelings, your questions, your unnamed but very real frustrations.
So you would not touch yourself, but in the dark of the night the moonlight would insinuate its way into your tiny room, beams of moonlight playing over the covers of your bed, illuminating your hands, the rays sneaking under the covers, slithering under the bed, lighting up the darkest corners where the dustballs lay that your mother would never seem to be able to clear away completely.
You would not touch yourself, because you understood all too well that it was very wrong, a sin; your mother told you that all the time and soeur Clarisse, your teacher, who always asked you if you wouldn't like to have another baby brother, said it too and Father John who would come over to visit your parents every few months, his voice admonishing as he spoke softly for an hour or so. There was that same shimmer of jealousy in his voice, and afterwards your mother would be walking around the house looking bleary and worried and she'd be even stricter with you than usual.
You would not touch yourself, because you'd learned early on in life that it was a sinful thing to do for little boys who wanted to go to Heaven, and you wanted to be good so badly. But sometimes a dark mist would swirl up from under the bed, stirred up by the moonlight that played under your bed and the blue eyed boy that you'd never seen in the neighborhood before but whom you had played with that whole afternoon would touch you shyly, slide his hands under the covers and you would fall asleep to the scent of sunkissed roses.
"Don't touch yourself, Thomas, it is a sin. Seminarists should not give in to temptations of the flesh, they keep themselves pure for God. How can you think about shepherding your flock if you don't give them the right example?"
Father Thaddeus' voice would ring in your ears long after you'd left your mentor's cubicle, having confessed all the possible sins and missteps that you could think of and having been rewarded with the appropriate castigations. You sat there in the cubicle, devoutly reciting your "Hail Mary"s while its soothing dark seemed to envelop you, the light of the church candles peeping through the little slits where the old wood had shrunk and opened up to let the candle light in.
So you would not touch yourself when you lay in your bed at night in the seminary, wide awake, mumbling "Hail Mary"s as the beads of your rosary slid through your hands lying chastely folded on the covers. You would not touch yourself, but a ray of moonlight would fall on the white beads of your rosary, lighting them as if they shone with a cold, inner light. And the hands of the beautiful young man whose deep blue eyes had gazed up at you knowingly as you stood in front of your cubicle's tiny window that afternoon would gently take away the rosary from your shaking fingers. He would slip into bed with you, warming you with his touch, and you would bite your lip bloody while the scent of decaying roses, the scent of your shame and guilt, rose up to meet you.
"Don't touch yourself, Thomas, it is a sin." The Devil's voice slithers over you, wrapping itself around your arms, enveloping your body, making you feel hot and freezing at the same time. You sit still, not expecting this, not knowing what to do, having expected it all your life. The Devil has finally come for you and you just sit there, feeling his fingers snake their way over your back, wrap themselves around your parch dry throat and slide down over your chest, holding you suddenly in a vice that you have no intention of escaping of.
Not even if Hell freezes over.
"Isn't that what they used to tell you, Thomas?" he continues lazily, his voice burning in your ears, his fingers finding places that you have wanted to hide, wanted to hide from, all your life.
"Didn't they tell you that you had to keep yourself pure for Him? That good little boys didn't do the things you wanted to do, that priests-to-be didn't think about those things; the things you spent fantasizing about all night until you finally fell asleep, your rosary helplessly clutched in your sticky fingers?"
His words shimmer with heat, smoke is rising from them, curls before you: sinuously wreathing shapes that make you swallow and close your eyes. But the Devil won't let you. He's in front of you now, suddenly sitting in your lap, fire pooling on your thighs, and he licks your eyes open with a tongue that burns the smokey images in your mind forever.
"Look at me, Thomas. It's me. Remember me?"
You stare into those deep blue eyes in which a fire seems to be burning and you feel yourself start remembering, feel your body respond to what it has wanted all its life. He chuckles softly and takes your face between his hands, bringing his own face close to you, so there is nothing left other than those two dark pits that drag you in, drag you under. At last.
"That time in the desert when I told you to leave a candle burning?" He whispers, "That time when you almost gave in to what you'd been craving all your life? I'm not here to seduce you; you have seduced yourself already, a long long time ago. I'm just a ... helpful companion."
You desperately start to chant to yourself that you feel nothing, that this temptation will pass, that you will be strong, that you will not fail. You try to recall how he ripped Gabriel's heart out, and how he devoured it; you try to envision him as the Master of Eternal Darkness, not the Carrier of Light. Words and phrases that have formed a part of your life for longer than you can remember form on your lips, but he kisses them away, licks clean your mouth, captures your tongue, silences your voice, almost silences your doubt, but never the fear, that guilty pleasure of maybe being found out, of being shown to everyone who you really are.
"By the time you'd become a detective you'd been ingrained with the lifelong admonition that sex without procreation was a sin, sex with yourself, sex with men, any sex, it all was a sin. So you'd touch yourself late at night and the guilt spurred your climax to even further heights. Isn't that how it is? That you never touched anyone but yourself? And who gets the blame for all that guilt?" the Devil wonders idly as he licks your neck and it feels as if his tongue is curling around you, promising sensations beyond anything you'd ever dreamed about. Or maybe you did, and this is your punishment and you'll be cast into the deepest pit of Hell.
"They blame /me/, Thomas. And all I ever wanted to do is give you humans the pleasure that you deserve, to let you enjoy guilelessly, guiltlessly, the pleasures life can bring you. I'm not against you, I just carry out my working orders. Blame the Boss," he says, his speech slightly slurring now with something you perceive with sudden and frightening clarity as passion and the heady scent of burning rose petals and musk starts to fill your nostrils.
There is no escape, you know this with terrifying clarity, because you have no intention of trying to escape. It's what you've been waiting for all your life, these hands on your body, stroking it, giving it form, giving it meaning, these hands slipping down your waistband and you nearly come right there and then because this is truly the first time and you've envisioned this for so long that the mere fact is enough to push you over the edge. He just chuckles at you as you lean back against the back of the chair, panting, trying to hold back, your eyes closed, seeing the coal black darkness, in which the red fires are burning.
"Greedy little bugger, aren't we? Well, can't say I can blame you; you've been waiting for it all your life," he whispers and you feel him smile against your chest as he slides down, a trail of kisses over your abdomen, his fingernails raking your sides. It's a miracle you don't come right then, because you want so badly, you want so much, you want nothing at all. And then you die, because he takes you into his mouth, and he breathes life back into you, sucks you dry and a fire hotter than the sun or the molten core of the Earth begins to build inside you, and there's nothing you can do about it, because the Devil is on his knees before you, worshipping you, and you can do nothing else but offer yourself up to him. Finally. Completely. Without regret.
And the you feel the Devil beneath you, his hardness pressing insistently against you. You are beyond wondering, beyond caring that you are naked, utterly naked and how you changed positions and that the Devil is making his final claim. You whimper as he presses against you. You cry out when he enters you. Not because it hurts, but because it feels so good, it feels so good to be filled up, to be made whole, to be undone once more. You feel yourself become impossibly erect as you ride the Devil, holding on desperately to his shoulders, pressing his face demandingly against your chest, offering it to him and he takes your nipples into his mouth, sucking on them as if he were a new born babe, trying to draw its first milk and you scream as he angles himself so that he finds that spot, the spot you've known about, but that no one, not even yourself, has ever touched. You come and the sun explodes, the Earth caves in and you are turned inside out and rebuilt from scratch, the fire and heat scorching away all the anguish, guilt or remorse you have ever felt in your life.
"Well, I hope it was worth the wait, Thomas Daggett," he breathes into your ear, as you lean against him, utterly spent, and the words just escape your mouth.
He laughs then, his breath tickling your earlobe, and suddenly there's a cigarette between his fingers. He brings the tip to his lips and kisses it almost distractedly. The tip starts to burn and he sucks in the fumes, holds his breath for a moment and then releases the smoke; it wraps itself around you, and again the air smells of burning rose petals and musk. Without warning Lucifer is on his feet, the spot where he has made you come cooling rapidly, making you shiver. The cigarette is dangling dangerously between his lips, threatening to fall and if you wouldn't know better it feels like he almost tenderly strokes your cheek before he takes the cigarette from his lips and hands it to you.
"Fags: my only sin," he grins and then the Devil is gone as quickly as he has come, leaving you with nothing but ash in your hands and a fading scent of burning roses.