by Ruth

He comes (almost) clean. Faint wisp of smoke, maybe. Ashes and embers lingering under the skin. Magicks forged white-hot in his soul, pressed into patterns not his own. Every Watcher watched, mentored away from his own power, free man made Council's man.

Couldn't last. Never does. He's not the first of his calling to beg the Warlock for restoration. Most, though, just take off their shirt for a fingertip, feather stroke that mends the severed strands of silky webs within.

They don't strip buck-naked and stand trembling, whispering of powerlessness and failure. Don't arch, aching, into a rougher touch that grasps at steel, outside and in; that promises potency, manhood, an ecstasy of significance at last.

To save the world, what matter a black lie disguised as white magicks? To save himself, what matter black magicks under the lie? She'll take them within herself, and he'll have taught her something after all. That we lie to ourselves most of all. That it was never enough never to matter.

She smelled of strawberries: ripe, but full of worms eating away the sweetness. He smells of fire: essential, impotent without fuel to feed it. He feeds it flesh.

Until he comes clean.


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