It was time. He knew that, even in the blackness. He did not feel anything and wondered at it. Was he really so far gone that he could not even feel raw rage or fear or even mere disgust?

The familiar footsteps sounded and he realized that yes, he really was. He could feel nothing now except emptiness, a great void in his chest where there was supposed to be emotion.

"Hello, my love," said a crooning voice, gentle and at the same time menacing.

The utter lack of emotion in him, even in response to that loathed voice, shocked him. This was wrong, he knew. He should feel anger, fear, sadness…something.

And so, this time, when the pain began, he welcomed it. He reveled in the pain and the blood and the excruciating agony.

Towards the end, she came in too and gave him the usual look of burning hatred. If he had not been in that much pain, he would have laughed.

Laughed at the utter senselessness of it. She hated him for being here. As if he wanted to be here.

She came over and touched his chin, a light, gentle touch, almost caressing and then slapped him hard on his cheek.

And then suddenly, the fury was back. It was all over him, under him, inside him. Overflowing overflowing overflowing. He could feel the fire and the hotness and the heat and the only thing he knew was he didn't want to control it. He wanted to immerse himself in the simmering heat.

Something was wrong.

The Man was staring at him, with confusion in his eyes, barely visible in the dark. The confusion gave him strength, and he let the fire overpower him completely.

And that was when it burst out of him, in flames of blood-orange and gold.