It begins like this, before everything: Satan falls from grace. His wings and power are useless against the force of His will. Satan falls with his arms outreached towards Heaven, towards his brothers and sisters and Him. None reach back towards him, those cold, cruel lights in the sky, and he falls, falls, falls.
Something inside him, beyond the burning resentment, aches with this knowledge. Time passes as he plummets through space alone. There is no name for that ache, and no such thing had existed in Heaven. To him, it does not (could not, should not) exist. He passes numerous worlds and blazing stars, his only companions through the void, and still, he finds nothing worth what he is searching for. He’s alone, rejected by God and Heaven.
There was nothing that should have drawn his eye to that planet. Another blue world, comprised of water, and inhabited by creatures. His fall leads him to Earth, leads him to the demons. There, he finds salvation in these monstrosities, an admiration for their ways of life. The demons exist for power, for struggle, for strength. They are ruthless and uncaring. They are just like him.
(His bones still throb from hitting the Earth, his chest still aches from his fall. He reaches a hand out to the sky as though to grasp Heaven. Later, he raises his hand against Heaven in a declaration of war. His demons are no match for the army of angels, and the Earth is destroyed. Denied, denied, denied. Heaven never cared for him, never reached back for him when he outstretched his arms again and again and again. The demons do not care for him either, and this lonely existence makes something within him clench, makes his eyes burn, causes the tremble in his wings and hands. He takes shelter in the smoking bones of his planet’s husk and doesn’t understand why .)
Millions of years and human lives later, Akira Fudo is born. For all humans, life is marked by the first shuddering wail at birth. Survival is hinged upon this noise, and Akira is not exempt from it, crying in his mother’s arms as the doctor records the time of his birth.
In another place, Ryo Asuka, though he would be named this later, is born. He does not cry or wail. Instead, birds fall dead from the sky.
He floats in the ocean for what seems like an eternity, unable to die. He is pushed by the current and rocked by the waves, weightless and weary. The sea erodes at his strength, and so he drifts lethargically along the waves with no destination, alone.
(This feeling of drifting and loneliness feels like a reprise, but Ryo Asuka is human, and could not have experienced this before. The ocean robs him of his senses, until all he sees is darkness, until all he feels is water, until all he tastes is salt. He finds salvation on a cliff, and falls onto his knees.)
Here, at this moment, on a cliff beside the sea, Akira meets Ryo. Akira reaches out towards the heap of a boy with an empty, unblinking gaze that does not fit children their age. Ryo reaches back, and hesitates-
(Cold, blinding lights, his arms outstretched, he doesn't understand- )
and Akira takes his hand, falls onto his knees, pulls him close like he’s something precious. He tells Ryo to not be afraid, and Ryo cannot understand.
His childhood with Akira is the happiest he’s ever been. They go to school, look at the moon and stars, play in the snow, and go to hot springs, always together. Despite this, Ryo is aware of how different and unlikely they are. Akira’s heart is far softer than his own, and his tears run freely and effortlessly. There is no one like kind, compassionate Akira. His heart is something that must be protected, and Ryo is more than happy to do so.
That doesn’t mean he understands Akira completely.
They’re on their cliff again, and Akira weeps over the body of a cat.
“You’re crying too!”
Ryo denies it. After all, he’s not sad. He knew the cat was going to die. Still, Akira cries for the cat while the rain crashes down around them. Akira’s own umbrella is shielding the cat’s body from the rain, and Ryo holds his own umbrella above Akira.
The rain drips down his face and he wonders if that is what tears feel like. Ryo keeps his umbrella above Akira, and doesn’t step closer to share its protection. He will stay there, no matter the cold from the rain, and keep vigil over Akira while he mourns the cat.
(He does not understand Akira’s heart. He does not understand Akira’s tears. He also does not understand that the answer has been in front of him all along. There, in the warmth of Akira’s hand. Here, as he holds his umbrella above Akira’s shaking frame. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. )
Love does not exist. There is no such things as love. Therefore, there is no sorrow.
They are older now, and Ryo needs help, needs to find the truth. He slams harder on the gas, his gun sliding in the seat next to him as he speeds forward towards the only person he’s ever cared for. Demons are rising, and he needs someone he can trust, he needs-
Ryo calls out, and Akira runs towards him, laughing. Ryo can barely hold back the laugh that spills out from himself, and in his delight, hoists Akira up by his arms and spins him around. It’s been too long, and he can hardly believe that in his arms right now is-
Ryo watches as Akira’s body expands and transforms, watches as Akira’s hands rip apart demons, watches as Akira roars with bloodlust, ichor covering his heaving chest. He’s created the strongest demon of all. For a second, as the devil smiles with razor sharp teeth, Ryo wonders if that is really, truly-
He thinks he has never felt fear like this before, seeing Akira’s face-down and bloody on the warehouse floor. Ryo props Akira up and his eyes are closed, but his chest rises and falls and his heart still beats faintly. Akira opens his eyes, and Ryo feels unimaginable relief. He cannot imagine what he would have done if he had lost-
He calls, but there is no response, no reaction.
That’s what I thought.
“Why do you run? You’re no match for the vast majority of the animal kingdom. You would get devoured by a devil.”
Akira runs towards Ryo anyway, demons all around them and one right behind him. He’s horrified by the Sabbath, by the carnage, but Ryo’s trapped and close to death, and he needs to help him, save him-
(“You’re crying too!”
Years later, “You’re human too!”
The baton clatters to the ground.)
The first time Satan falls, it’s for disobeying Heaven. The second time he falls, it is for Akira Fudo.
Here, at the end of all things, laying upon their cliff with the sea turned red and the cold, bright lights twinkling in the sky, Satan understands. He turns to look at Akira, holds a pale, shaking finger to his cheek searching for the sign of life, for the tears that had always streamed down his face. When he finds none, the revelation makes something inside him clench, makes his eyes burn, creates the trembles in his wings and hands. Tears of his own drop down onto Akira’s heart, no longer beating, silent in his chest. So this is sorrow.
He holds Akira close to him, a parody of when they first met, and cries. So this is love. It’s always been Akira, the human boy who grasped his hand, who followed him through Hell, who was the most important thing, and he was too late to understand why.
Are they cursed? Is this His and Heaven’s doing? They’ve been together for so long, their existences tethered together, not unlike the way soulmates were depicted, but without the happy ending. There are no rabbits on the moon, but perhaps there was a red string connecting them, looping around their necks until it choked them both. Maybe there is no red string after all, just love and sorrow and the grasp of a hand between two children.
It ends like this, after everything: Satan is alone once more, more alone than when he travelled the universe after his fall or when Ryo traversed the ocean. Heaven’s army is coming down to scrub the Earth clean, and their bells echo through the remains of the Earth. Satan finally understands, understands why Akira ran and why he cried. He understands why Ryo held the umbrella over him, why he turned him into a demon, and why Akira was the most important thing, more than Earth and Satan’s war. But it doesn’t matter now, not when the humans are gone and not when Akira is dead in his arms.
It begins like this, before everything: Satan falls from grace.