When the Sun Finally Rises
Spoilers: Never Fade Away
Disclaimer: Joss, not me.
Summary: A philosophical torture session between Faith and Wesley.
A/N: Written for the Darkficathon.
“Once upon a time, I had a lengthy discussion about the nature of Hell,” Wesley says, face surprisingly warm and animated given the situation. “A fascinating discussion. A fascinating companion, whose name and significance I have quite forgotten. What do you think of Hell, Faith?”
“This is Hell, you sick fuck,” she replies, staring at the ceiling.
Wesley chuckles, and then, in hands gloved in blue, lifts a scalpel. “In fact, you’re not nearly as far off as you believe, Faith,” he said, twisting the delicate instrument in his hands. “I suggested, at first…perhaps influenced by our mutual friends…that Hell is a punishment. The realm of those who have not learned the basic lessons of living.”
He slices bone-deep, two perpendicular slices into her cheek that ends just shy of her eye and nose, and then mutters a few Latin words. Faith screams, because it burns, it burns like nothing else has ever burnt.
“A simple enough trick,” he says. “For you, it’s a reminder. What have I just reminded you of, Faith?”
“That you’re sick,” said Faith. “That all of this has driven you crazier.”
He slams both hands down, hard, against her shoulders. “Wrong,” he says mildly. “That is a reminder that you’re a foul, filthy thing. If you were pure, it wouldn’t burn, but instead, you bring shame down on me and all you were.”
She tries to snap at him, to tear his throat out so they can both be done and dead when the sun finally rises, but Wesley has pulled away again, and is tapping the bubbles out of a syringe. “Returning to the original topic,” he says loudly. “Hell is not a punishment, for as my companion, and oh, I wish I had not forgotten her name, for I think it was a woman, pointed out, that is the nature of purgatory. An education by pain, which, as she quibbled, is quite inefficient. Instead of learning anything, you’re simply broken.”
Faith struggled against the ropes, knowing that if he’s back to syringes, she might break through. He’s too quick, and the needle is shoved into her neck and she sinks down, limp.
“I argued with my companion that she was perhaps taking an overly optimistic view of human nature,” Wesley continues as the cold of the drug courses in Faith’s veins, as she gags and chokes because her head is spinning and she can’t move. But she can sure as shit feel pain. “Some people can’t be educated. I’ve known more than one who were better off dead, because no lesson, no matter how sharply delivered…”
He pauses in the lecture to deliver a blunt blow against Faith’s ribs with a pistol. As there are already three razor blades embedded in the skin…she screams, but the sound is deformed thanks to the drug.
“Will ever break through their internal illusions that they, of course, are above and beyond the law.”
“Fuck. You,” Faith half-howls.
Wesley bends down over her, a sneer on his face. “I have, remember? You suggested it, when I was half-mad with grief and guilt, when I removed you from that prison. You rode me as though you were possessed. And now I know that you always were possessed with rank, hateful filth…”
“So I’m Hell,” Faith says indistinctly, even to her own ringing ears.
“You’re evil,” Wesley says, taking her face in his blue gloved hands. “But no woman, no matter how diabolical, can truly be Hell. There’s always some hint of weakness, some taint of soft motherly need, that ruins the deal.”
Faith chokes for a while then, and the world spins and shatters. Wesley must have put something new in this dose.
“We decided, I think, after enough discussion, that Hell is torture. That true Hell is mindless, endless pain delivered by an uncaring universe, because there can be neither hope nor even an end to all things,” Wesley says, pacing back and forth. “Perhaps the Senior Partners control a distilled version of that, we postulated, but the essence of Hell is eternal agony.”
He taps on her cheek, and it burns, a hot fire that travels down her spine and makes her feet twitch. “That can’t exist,” Faith says, not sure she’s following, but she’s got to try.
“Why not?” Wesley asks, picking up a canister. “See this? Liquid nitrogen.”
He freezes her baby finger. “Why?” she asks.
“You’re missing the point, Faith,” Wesley says, and she’s sure he’s completely insane. That all of the rationalizing in the world won’t bring him out of this. “Hell. Is. Torture. Unending, unreasoning, without regard for justice or even limit.”
Her breathing gets shallower. She doesn’t need to breathe, and the weight on her chest is starting to ache. “Do you think he knew? That anyone knew this would happen?”
“Do you think they cared?” Wesley asked. “This is the eternal war, without hope, without anything. Our forgotten heroes, they walked on, sure their names would at least survive. Hector. Achilles. Arthur. Lancelot. For a warrior, glory is eternal, so we have forgotten their names and their deeds. I suspect I have forgotten so many names because it would be torture for them to know that all their battles are meaningless, forgotten. As if they weren’t fought at all.”
“So I’m not a hero?” Faith asks.
“No more than I am,” Wesley agrees, looking out the window at the red-grey dawn about to emerge. “You’ll burn terribly, but you won’t die. Despite your cowardly wish for oblivion. You’ll sleep in dreams of madness and awaken whole, without pain. And it’ll begin again, with no end.”
Faith begins to cry, and each one sizzles loudly against her skin. “And you?”
“I’ll continue to forget, until all I remember that my righteous duty is to hideously mutilate and torture you,” Wesley says. “And I will enjoy my work until I remember, and then I will go mad. Again and again. You burn, I burn. The nature of Hell.”
“Why can’t we stop?” Faith asked. “Cut me free, let’s run, let’s stop.”
He lifts an axe, sharp, with the distinct impression that it was originally a hubcap. “We’ll only end up where we started.”
The sun glints off his axe. Faith begins to burn.