Hell's Heart (fic)
This is inspired by - and a tribute to - the rather wonderful Good Girls Go To Heaven – Bad Girls Go Anywhere by beer_good_foamy. You can consider it a sequel, if you like.
ETA: Now with Director's Commentary (and theological discussion) here.
Faith Lehane, born 30 December 1980, died 19 April 2007. This story is set three days after her death.
Rating: 15 Wordcount: 1,400
Warnings: violence, bad language, character
deathdamnation, blasphemy and heresy.
The songs of choirs of angels made a soft, soothing hum through the thick walls of the office. The clerk peered at his ledger, ticking off another name. Every soul balanced, every deed accounted for. Everything was right with the world. He smiled his thin smile, placed his pen down on the desk - aligned precisely with the edge of the blotter - and sat back, stretching cramped muscles.
Time for a short break. In front of the desk, the endless line of souls stretched away, anxious eyes waiting for his approval, but he paid them little mind. They could wait. Impatience showed lack of faith, which was a sin, and there were no sinners here. Pretty much by definition.
It was a pleasant change, he mused. Back in the old days they'd all been brought before him, the righteous and the damned alike, and it had been his job to tell them their fate. He shuddered delicately. The pleas, the tears and curses, the excuses, the frantic attempts to explain. To challenge the verdict of impartial divine justice. All in vain, of course, but he so hated it when they made a scene. Much better now that arrangements had been made to deliver them directly to their eternal punishment. He glanced at the iron door behind him, barred and bolted. It was three centuries now since the last damned soul had been flung screaming down the staircase behind it, and he hoped the door would never need to be opened again.
He stood up, replacing his chair carefully under the desk, and walked over to the cabinet at the side of his office, oblivious to the waiting eyes. A cup of tea would be refreshing right now, he thought, and opened the drawer to take out his silver tea caddy.
A sudden crash behind him like the crack of doom whirled him around. The silver box fell from nerveless fingers, spilling Earl Grey heedlessly across the pristine marble floor, as a massive weight smote the iron door from the other side. Even as he watched the bolts were bending under a tremendous force, the hinge-nails grinding slowly out of the wall. Paralysed in disbelieving horror, he saw the door shake again to another impact... then in a tortured scream of metal tear loose from its mounting and slam down flat on the floor, cracking it asunder.
And from behind it, looming dark in the doorway, smelling of blood and brimstone, strode the figure...
...of a girl. A once-mortal girl, clad in torn and ripped rags of denim, head crowned in a halo of singed and blackened chestnut hair. Smeared with blood, some of it her own. Most of it not. Her right hand held a weapon, her left something large and round, which she flung onto his desk. It rolled across the surface, leaving a black trail of gore behind it, and came to a halt with sightless eyes gazing blankly at the ceiling.
"I'm here for some answers."
Her words shook him out of his frozen incomprehension, although his eyes still darted around, desperate for help. This couldn't be happening. It was impossible. He waited for the universe to reimpose its rightness... but she was still here.
And the crimson blade in her hand looked sharp and deadly.
"Well? You gonna talk to me, or do I need to see the Big Guy?"
His voice came quavering and stammery, but he forced the words out. "W-who are you?"
"Damn. Thought you knew everyone, 'Rocky'. Least, that's what the nuns used to say - you know all our sins, huh?"
And of course it was true. He knew who she was. Still, to recover some of his fragile calm, he placed his glasses on his nose and sat down at his desk again. Pulled the ledger towards him gingerly, trying not to meet the cold dead eyes of the former Angel of the Morning Star. He turned back a page, ran his finger down the neat columns.
Sucked in his breath. Really, he couldn't help it. The stink of death and danger might surround him, but he forgot it as he read this woman's list of sins. It was...impressive. Lust - lots of that. Greed and envy. Limitless anger. Fierce pride and bottomless despair. At least she wasn't lazy...but that just gave her more energy to break even more of the Commandments. Adultery. Theft. Murder. False witness. Coveting. She'd done it all. She'd even managed to dishonour her father and mother - not that they were exactly blameless themselves, he recalled, but that was no excuse. He shook his head.
She had no place here. She had no right. He told her so, his certainty in his own rectitude restoring his courage.
"Like Hell. Sure, I've done wrong, but what about the other column? The good I've done? Does that count for nothing?"
He was back on familiar ground now. The same old whining. It never helped them...
...and behind her, he saw a glorious sight at last. The Guardian of Heaven's Gate had heard the commotion and was walking over to investigate, bright wings shining and flaming sword in his hand. Rescue was on its way. He stared over his glasses at the impertinent girl.
"You had your chance. You deliberately turned your back on grace when it was offered you, sinner."
"But I changed. I thought you guys were all about forgiveness?"
"What makes you think you deserve it?"
"That ain't fair."
In her anger she was focussed entirely on him, oblivious to the winged nemesis coming up behind her.
"There is no such thing as fairness. There is only justice."
She seemed to crumple inwards a little. Behind her, the archangel was raising his sword. Just a moment more... keep her distracted...
"You rejected the Light. Now you will have nothing. No kindness, no mercy, no hope. You have nothing."
"You're wrong." The flaming sword swung, slicing through the air towards her neck, but suddenly, impossibly, her hand was raised, her weapon parrying the blow - and she hadn't even looked round. She grinned at him fiercely. "I still got faith."
And she turned, and stared unafraid into the eyes of the angel, her blade lifting...
Smoke curled across the shattered ruins of the office. The waiting souls of the blessed had fled in panic long since. Smashed kindling marked the ruins of the desk, and from beneath it the little clerk stirred feebly, astonished at his own survival.
A hand grasped him by the neck, pulling him up and slamming him against the wall. Her voice was hoarse and smoky, but implacable.
"Enough of this crap. You're so hot on justice around here, I'm gonna give you some. Starting at the top. So open the gates, old man."
"I - I can't..."
"Sure you can. They taught me all about it, back when I was a good little Catholic schoolgirl. You've got the keys."
"I'm... not allowed to..."
Suddenly she was in his face, body pressed against his, taut and firm and wriggly and awakening thoughts he'd hoped had been dead and buried two thousand years since. He shuddered, as she whispered right in his ear, "I. Don't. Care. Give me the goddamn keys."
But he could only shake his head, rigid with - with fear. Sweat beaded on his brow...
And suddenly she kissed him, right on the forehead, and spun away laughing. "Whatever, dude. You've still got a pair on you... gotta respect that in an old man. Don't worry, I'll find my own way in. Come too far to stop now."
She walked over to the fluffy white snowdrift of feathers heaped in the centre of the room, limping slightly. She rummaged beneath the broken wings and drew out the shattered stump of a sword, flames still curling gently around its blade. Without a backward glance she strode over to the vast, gleaming gates that towered high overhead, barring her way. She thrust the broken sword between them, leaning her weight on it - and slowly, painfully, with a groan like a million tormented souls the gates bowed open. Just a crack... just big enough for a single young woman to squeeze through.
Faith squared her shoulders, tossed back her hair, took a firm grip on the Scythe and stepped through the gates of heaven.
And choirs of angels fled before her face.
We may with more successful hope resolve
To wage by force or guile eternal war
Irreconcileable, to our grand foe,
Who now triumphs, and in th'excess of joy
Sole reigning holds the Tyranny of Heaven.
- John Milton