Tag Archives: LGBTQ

Transgender Lives Matter

Biden can mention us, but the news will still leave us out.

I’m afraid nothing is going to change for transgender people. As great as having a Biden and Harris victory is, and as happy as I am for change, I feel like trans people are still going to be left in the dust.

It’s very telling that so few backed us when Rowling, a rich, cisgender, straight, white woman, started a debate about our identities, and the news treated it like celebrity drama for a few days rather than a vital civil rights issue. And many still consider transphobia acceptable because it’s too much effort to challenge someone they look up to. If this was racism, society would have a different tune. And I see so few sticking up for us when we need it. We get a statement.

That’s it. People give statements of support, but they don’t actually advocate for us. I genuinely want this to change, but I don’t have much hope.

We don’t have a big movement like everyone else does. We don’t have a lot of support or financial backing, and we don’t get coverage or outrage for transphobia. So few, if any, will protest for us and make it a nationwide issue. Celebrities and big YouTubers don’t organize charity drives for trans organizations.

I see other minority and oppressed groups with so much support. What about us? We’ve had our lives, healthcare, and basic rights threatened. Transgender people have been murdered at an exponentially frightening number just for existing, enjoying life, or trying to work. The news won’t talk about that. The news won’t say our names, or even the word transgender.

I’d like to ask why. Why isn’t transphobia as abhorrent as racism? Why isn’t it as horrible as homophobia? Why is it not as deplorable as sexism? Why is it something to be debated or excused simply because no one wants to make the effort to call it out? Do we mean nothing in America? Are we not included in the American dream that hasn’t existed for a while now?

This is not to belittle or take attention away from other important civil rights movements. Black Lives Matter. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, women, and disabled people need to be heard. But so do we. If America can focus on all that at once, why are transgender people dismissed as unimportant or too much work?

Stop the excuses. If you have any excuses to make, you’re part of the problem. If you condemn racism, sexism, ableism, and homophobia, you can condemn transphobia.

We are dying. We are accepting the bare minimum. We are losing our jobs, homes, and rights. We cry and cheer for joy simply because a president elect said the word transgender.

America can do better than this. We’ll remember who supported us and who debated our existence. We’ll remember that while not many fought for us, we fought for them, and we’re exhausted.

©2020 Shane Blackheart

Closure

I spent my entire life wondering why people did the things to me that they chose to. I was bullied. I had my identity questioned. I was a freak. I was physically, mentally, and sexually abused. I became a ball of depression, anxiety, and hate for so many years.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, panic disorder, and PTSD after years of trauma. I am also plural, which means I have more than one person who exists through my body sometimes. My alters and spirit guides are my supportive, loving family, not my enemies. At some point throughout my life, sometimes more often than not, I was doubted and not believed. It took years to be believed by mental health professionals, and just as much time to get others to see that I wasn’t faking it. That I wasn’t too young and attractive to be disabled.

When I came out as a trans man in 2015, I knew that my life wasn’t going to get any easier, but a huge change was going to take place. I was finally discovering who I was and I learned to accept that. I spent a long time learning new ways of existing and living on my own and being self-sufficient. I also had to cope with rejection in many different and painful ways.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve hurt people I didn’t mean to hurt. I’ve been too loud and too honest with the wrong people, and I fell in love with my melancholy. My depression was like a toxic lover I tried to shake off but found comfort in. It was familiar. It was in my own head. The conversations and time spent with my alters and spirit guides through it wrapped me in a blanket of comfort, and it created a bubble around me that no one was allowed to enter.

I’ve nearly died a few times, and they were self-inflicted injuries. I’ve been in psychiatric wards — one time for a week at least — and I thought my life would remain static and unchanging. Always fighting for something. Fighting just to be able to live and experience life like everyone else. Fighting to be believed.

I wish I could’ve appreciated the change sooner. It felt so slow and impossible. In reality, the change for the better occurred over a five-year span — five years out of the thirty-one I’ve lived. In that perspective, it really didn’t take so long after all.

I’d taken dialectical behavioral therapy classes and learned mindfulness. I stopped drinking every day and I eventually stopped smoking to start my medical transition with testosterone. I’d found a counselor who finally understood me and believed me when I opened up about being plural, as well as other things that I often struggled to find someone to empathize with. I got my own place and started paying my own bills and I got the assistance I needed to get things done for myself. I became self-sufficient over these five years.

And now, after butting heads with an insurance company for three of those years and dealing with discrimination, I walked into the hospital on Monday, July 20th, 2020 at 8AM to get top surgery.

It’s been about a week and a half since surgery and everything went well. My mom has finally come around and accepts me, and she was sitting right beside me before and after coming out of surgery in the hospital. She’s cared for me at home until I can do things myself, and that’s been very important for my mental health. My dad has also come around, as she’s told me, which is unbelievable for someone so old-fashioned and resistant to change.

Two days ago mom said something that I thought I’d never hear. I’d confided in her that I always felt like the family failure. I was the only one who couldn’t work a normal nine to five job. I’m a disabled writer with severe mental illness, and I certainly don’t have it all together. I always felt like the strange one — the black sheep that didn’t belong.

“Oh, you think everyone else has it together?” she said. She then told me something I never knew about a family member I thought had it right. Who was accomplished in my eyes. And I realized then that I was living a false reality in my head.

I pay my own bills on time every time. I take care of my health and am compliant with therapy. I am working on a writing career I hope will take off with a bit of luck so I don’t have to rely on disability, and the hours and money I put into my books take up quite a bit of time and resources that I manage mostly alright. I rarely have to call anyone to ask for help, if ever. Most importantly, everything I have right now — my home especially — I fought for and got myself.

I looked at her for a moment before it hit me. I haven’t failed at all. And that was the weirdest feeling in the world. It was as strange as waking up after surgery to realize I didn’t hate myself anymore. I’ve spent my entire life hating who I am, hating my body, and feeling like I was destined to always fail. That I would never be good enough. It was all so horribly wrong, and it made me realize how much of my life was dedicated to gaining my parents’ approval and acceptance I thought I would never get. That, and I’ve lived my life based on the hateful statements and identities others placed on me.

It’s a bit scary to gain closure. Everything in my life that was horribly wrong I now understand, have worked through, and I’ve finally closed that last door that kept leading me backward. Now, I have a clean slate to work from. I’ve never had this much freedom and clarity in my life, so I’m not sure what to do with it. I’m used to being on guard and wondering when something will go wrong, or watching my back at all times because I didn’t know who was going to hurt me or abandon me next. Now, I don’t really care about all of that stuff. I realized it really doesn’t matter.

With this blank slate, I’ll lay out who I am now. I’m an artist, a writer, and a gay trans man. I struggle with mental illness sometimes, but I have my head family — my alters and spirit guides — to get me on the right track again. I have an amazing and supportive healthcare team and a family that accepts me. I have a few close friends, but that’s all I need. I’m single and mostly fine with that, as being single is what allowed me to find myself in the first place. I am self-sufficient and most importantly, I’m safe and in control of my own life.

I have to stop looking back. None of that defines who I am now. What matters is living in the present and making plans for a future I once thought I wouldn’t see. And I have so many things I want to do if we survive this pandemic.

 

©2020 Shane Blackheart

My Alters are my Lifeline

Now published on The Mighty!

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As a trans man who has survived sexual trauma, rape, domestic abuse, and is plural (i.e; more than one person in this body, or the DID spectrum), my experience is not one I’ve seen often. It’s difficult to push past the block, or the defense mechanisms in place to keep me from reliving certain memories, but Lestan, one of my alters, helped me sort through these experiences. And we’ve come to this.

He offered to help me through this as he did a long time ago, although my problem this time is something that has morphed over the years into repulsion — shame — for my body, myself, and intimacy. Sex. A lot of deep-seated trauma I ignored for a long time came back in the past few years, and it’s caused a lot of symptoms I’d never had previously.

I have shame for touching my body. Shame for feeling desire.

I don’t speak about it often because I’m equally ashamed to admit it. Because it just isn’t me and who I knew myself to be in the past. I have this shame paired with the agony of experiencing desire intensely, as I experience everything intensely with BPD, and it’s gut-wrenching at the worst of times.

Yet, I enjoy writing erotica and romance, and I like watching adult films with a strong plot or artistic element. The emotion behind that — the energy — it intrigues me in the way a beautiful piece of art moves an experienced artist. It is something greater than a carnal film most wouldn’t view on a level of artistic merit that I do.

But when I feel that energy within myself, I am reminded of how much weight I’ve gained and how undesirable I feel, and it traces back to every time someone in my life has insulted my weight or my appearance. To the times I’ve battled with anorexia, yoyo dieting, binge eating, and starving myself once again.

When a close friend — who was also an intimate partner — told me last year that we write better sex than we have, as we often wrote romance stories together, it crushed me more than I’d ever admitted to. I laughed it off as she did, but inside shame burnt hot and I didn’t want to open up to her again. Foolishly, I did because I loved her so much. I thought she understood my trauma.

I was raised to be ashamed of things commonly spoken of in high school sex education. Sex and self-satisfaction were shameful and you didn’t dare say the words associated with them. And now, at 31, it’s triggered back by trusting another with my body. It had been my first time with a girl and my first sexual experience as a transgender man.

In any of my sexual relationships, that one no exception, Lestan, one of my alters, would often come out.

My ex couldn’t even get me to take my shirt off, but in a matter of minutes, all of that disappeared because Lestan was in the driver’s seat. And that was before I realized who he was to me. I would go from cold to hot within seconds.

The first time Lestan didn’t switch in, and I wasn’t ready for the intimate moment about to happen, I started shaking and trembling and felt unwell. I did my best to hide it because I didn’t know what was happening. I still wasn’t aware, in January of this year, of the effect being raped and abused by my first boyfriend, when I was a teenager, had on me. I’d written it off as a teenager due to not having a healthy idea of love growing up, and due to a lot of classmates disbelieving me when I finally came out about it. I lost friends and fell silent.

When Lestan quickly slides into place, the shaking stops immediately and I have a sexual energy that doesn’t focus on my usual self-deprecation. My demeanor changes and I am no longer me. It hits like a shock every time and in the blink of an eye, but although I am in the passenger seat once again, Lestan allows me to experience the moment with him. It isn’t a selfish act for him. It’s for me so I can enjoy the experience, and I do want to enjoy it.

It’s strange — strange to have someone else in this body and I’m suddenly chuckling and grinning whereas I was trembling seconds before.

I must mention that, despite the alarming switches done out of care for me, I love Lestan. I never share our relationship publicly because it’s unconventional, but he’s my life partner. I have a tattoo of him on my left arm for that commitment, and it covers my self-harm scars for good reason. I’m fortunate he’s here, and he continues to save me from trauma and I allow him to. He’s my protector.

When Lestan jumps in to take control, it’s important because if he doesn’t, I’m going to spiral rapidly and it’ll become something forced with a partner I care about. And I know he does it because he’s hoping I’ll start to ease into it myself.

Lestan was the one who showed me, during my abusive relationship with my boyfriend at 15, that love could be something beautiful. He tried to save me from what I’m experiencing now by spending time alone with me in my bed, making me laugh and trailing his fingers, through mine, along my skin to bring me a euphoric happiness I didn’t think existed. At the end of the day, I’d cry because I couldn’t actually embrace him.

It drives home how he and I are two completely separate beings, which is not the way DID works to our understanding. Except, we do often operate how DID does.

It’s fantastical and enchanting at the best of times, but it seems he couldn’t save me like he’d wanted to. I feel shame when I let him touch me now even though I love him and I want him to. When Byleth, a spirit guide of mine, does as well. I want to experience these things with my whole heart, but this last attempted relationship — this person I trusted with all of us and with my transmasculine body — was the final trigger to send a clear message home; I have learned that to explore my queer identity, body, and sexual awkwardness, I will be met with rejection.

But I have Lestan, my spirit guides, and other alters who I don’t see much anymore. I can trust them because they know me inside and out, and they have never betrayed me or rejected me. They may be odd to others, but they will always ensure I survive. Rather they’ll be able to save me now from all of this shame and self-repulsion, I don’t know, but I’d like to try.

They are here day and night. They do their best to break through to still my hands when I am self-harming, and they distract me when I become suicidal. They remind me that I am worth being loved, I have a voice that matters, and I deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.

If nothing else, at least they’ve never made me feel shame.

©2020 Shane Blackheart
Picture is of Lestan made by me

[M+]Excerpt from Gabriel – original writing

I haven’t posted anything in a while, so I figured I could post this bit of inspiration I got today. This is an excerpt from a longer story I have in progress. I had horrible writer’s block with it until today when this moment hit me out of nowhere. It was deviously fun to write and will be part of the book, but a warning: It’s rated as mature content for a reason. Byleth is pretty liberal with his language most times, and this scene is kind of spicy, but more so in an emotional aspect. It could also be considered a bit offensive. The book itself is an LGBTQ+ erotic fantasy, although this scene does not contain anything explicit other than language.


Gabriel stormed into Byleth’s flat and crossed his arms once he reached the bar, refusing to look at the fallen king behind him. He couldn’t allow himself to fall into any more depravity because of the deviant, and he would put a stop to everything right now. “Byleth, no more.”

“Oh, so your high wore off. Great. Killed my buzz.” Byleth huffed as he fell onto the bed. Gabriel had been more than jovial on their walk home from the concert, the weed that had been passed around to them potent enough, especially for a first-timer like the angel. When Gabriel’s wings had come out after his high kicked in, everything had come to a stop as Byleth snapped his fingers to rush them out of the theater. The Doors would be around again soon, no doubt, but Byleth was more eager to play with the angel’s tolerance for certain things. Acid had been potent as well as grass, but now that it was wearing off, as with the acid before, Gabriel was coming to his senses. That wouldn’t do.

“I’m not even supposed to be doing this sort of thing!” The angel finally turned around, his arms wrapped around himself. He couldn’t meet Byleth’s eyes. It would only remind him of the forbidden things he’d done with the fallen king the night before. “All of this is new to me, but I see now that it’s only a way for you to manipulate me.” He braved a glance at Byleth’s red eyes that were staring right at him. “That’s been your plan, hasn’t it? Our discussion this morning meant nothing to you?”

“I’m getting a fucking headache, which isn’t something I have to deal with. Congratulations.” Byleth pushed up off the bed and approached the bar beside Gabriel to pour a drink. It was a metaphorical headache, of course. “I know what we discussed. I don’t hate you like I do the others, Gabriel. I’m just trying to show you a good time while you’re here — which, by the way, you never elaborated on. Care to?”

Gabriel fell silent and stared at the floor. When he didn’t speak up for some time, Byleth turned to face him with a strong drink in his hand. It was an awkward moment before the angel figured he should say something. “May we agree to enjoy our time here without mind-altering substances?”

“You mean to tell me you didn’t like feeling human for a minute?” Byleth smiled and shoved the drink in Gabriel’s direction. There were many tricks he could play to loosen the angel up that he wouldn’t expect, a good glass of gin and tonic a great place to start. Byleth took his own glass as Gabriel sipped his.

The angel grimaced and swallowed hard. “What in Heaven’s name is this awful concoction?”

“Something to tame your tensions, turtle dove.” Byleth took a large drink from his own and returned to the edge of the bed. He snapped his fingers and a record player kicked on across the room to play ‘Get Ready’ by the Temptations.

Gabriel stared suspiciously at the glass as he leaned back against the bar, sniffing it before taking another drink. “It burns.”

“It’s supposed to. You’ll be feeling warm and fuzzy in no time.” Byleth chuckled. The angel would be a lightweight for certain, which he was all too happy to witness.

“This isn’t another of your strange substances, is it?” Gabriel took another drink despite his concerns.

“Most humans enjoy this sort of thing. It isn’t taboo if that’s what you’ve got your feathers in a bunch over.”

“Oh, I see.” Gabriel took a bigger drink that time, the warmth spreading down into his stomach where it lingered. He had to admit that it felt very nice, and it wasn’t messing with his perception of reality like the other two things. He was also aware, as the minutes ticked by and after a second glass, that he was feeling particularly fuzzy and happy, and his skin was warm.

“Feeling good now, are you?” Byleth bit his lip to keep from laughing at the angel, his tolerance much higher. It took more than three glasses of the stuff to affect him, and Gabriel was already practically swooning over the sensations from two small glasses. ‘Come and Get Your Love’ by Redbone came over the speaker, which was enough to get Byleth in the mood. He leaned back on the bed on his elbows, drink still in hand. “Get over here, pigeon.”

“Oh, no. No, see, I see what you’re doing, Byleth, and it won’t work this time. No, sir.” Gabriel was speaking much more freely now, although he was still very aware of the king’s deviousness. No amount of muscle peeking through a half-buttoned shirt, nor a pair of bellbottoms that were much too tight would distract him. “Oh, dear.”

Byleth arched an eyebrow. “Get your angelic ass over here.”

Gabriel was already reaching behind the bar for the bottle of gin, not realizing that what he’d been consuming before was a mixed drink. Byleth smirked and let it happen, laughing quietly as the angel groaned and made a face of extreme displeasure. “I must purge these wicked thoughts.” Gabriel turned to Byleth, glaring. “The only drink I can trust is one made by my own hand. You shan’t trick me again.”

“Oh yeah? Go for it.” Byleth watched as Gabriel downed the gin in his glass. “But do it over here.”

Gabriel rounded the bar and grabbed onto the edge of it, dizziness hitting him. He nearly dropped the half-full glass in his hand. “You can’t make me this time.”

Byleth lowered his eyes. “Come. Here.”

The tone in the king’s voice sent a shiver up Gabriel’s spine, and it alarmed him. He wasn’t sure exactly what possessed him, but he met Byleth’s gaze and answered with a breathy, “No.”

“Excuse me?” Byleth stood to approach the angel and observed him. Oh. It was happening again, it seemed. The fallen king smiled, two small canines poking over his lip. “Are you defying me?”

Gabriel licked his lips nervously and avoided Byleth’s gaze, his cheeks growing red. Why did everything feel so good right now? Surely it wasn’t from the drink. “Y-yes. My answer is no.”

Bullshit. Byleth circled around the angel and trailed a finger up Gabriel’s arm. He could smell the gin on the angel’s breath as he breathed heavily. “What’s the matter, pigeon? Can’t handle your gin?”

“I am not a pigeon.” Gabriel tensed as he felt hot breath drift across his neck as Byleth came close only to draw back again, chuckling.

“You’re a fucking pigeon. A messenger pigeon, more like it. God’s little bitch.”

Byleth’s baritone laughter went straight south, and Gabriel was quickly downing the rest of his drink for something less awkward to do. “Your language…”

“Am I offending you?” Byleth mocked a sound of sympathy and set his glass on the bar, coming up behind Gabriel to run his hands up the angel’s back where wings would otherwise be present.

Gabriel twitched more from pleasure than annoyance. “It is inappro — inappopiate…” Gabriel trailed off, his buzz strengthening. He had no doubt he’d consumed something else that was causing that debauched feeling to come back, although this time he was aware of every second. He was also very aware of how much the sober Gabriel very much liked this sort of thing deep inside, and this strange drink only brought it out of him. He shivered.

“Oh? Inappropriate, huh? What if I said I didn’t give a fuck about your sensibilities?” Byleth was sure to moan out the ‘fuck’ to torture the angel further.

“Please, Byleth.” Gabriel teared up as he fought his true desires. They were eating him alive, and he was frightened by them.

Byleth paused and watched the angel’s eyes become red around the edges as tears threatened to spill forth. A smile tugged at his lips. “Are you going to cry?” A sadistic pleasure rushed up inside him and he came close to Gabriel, grabbing the angel’s jaw and forcing it to look up at him. “You gonna cry, baby?”

“Why are you so cruel? Why — why do you…” The drunkenness robbed further speech from Gabriel as Byleth’s touch sent a wave of arousal through him.

“Pigeons are supposed to coo, sweetie, not whine.” Byleth reached down and slid a hand along the bulge that had formed in the angel’s corduroy pants. It brought a breathy moan from the form in his grasp. “Much better.”

The tears finally spilled over, but not from misery. Everything felt so wonderful and Gabriel knew he was powerless to deny himself what he had come to enjoy. He was already surely damned for what they’d done together the other night, so what was once more? But that was how it started. Soon, Gabriel was sure, if he ever came across God again in his shame, he would end up in the flames with this devil. “I’m debauched,” he slurred. “Indecent.”

Byleth hummed in approval, grabbing a fist full of the angel’s shirt to drag him over to the bed. “Beautiful words. Are you getting it now?” Byleth’s own buzz had set in and he was more than eager to give the angel another test drive.

“Unfortunately.” Gabriel fell on top of Byleth as they stumbled backward onto the bed. He lifted himself up onto his hands and stared down at the being that would surely be his undoing on a grand scale. “Why have you done this to me? Why me?”

“Because I like it.” Byleth untucked the angel’s shirt and pulled the buttons open, teasing his claws up quivering sides. “And so do you.”

“Do I? Oh God, do I?” Gabriel was close to tears again as a pulse below nearly pulled another moan from him. He felt Byleth’s arousal just as strong against his own as the fallen king gently bucked up against him.

Byleth lifted his head to lick away a tear trail and whispered against the angel’s face. “You love it.” He pulled back and rocked his hips into Gabriel’s once more while staring into a pair of glazed blue eyes. “This beautiful cock of yours isn’t so angelic right now, is it?”

“That’s so… dirty.” Gabriel’s eyes fell shut and he met Byleth’s rhythm with his own. “It burns and it aches, and it’s so, so, so miserable. But why do I like it?” He stopped and stared down at Byleth, his tears drying. “Why?”

The fallen king chuckled. “We need to get you drunk more often, sugar.” He beckoned for the angel to close the distance between them, and he was pleased when Gabriel fell into a kiss that had them both breathless.

©2020 Shane Blackheart

March 18, 2020 update: Byleth and I did a reading of this here:

Excerpt from my memoir

I’m currently working on my memoir, one of two, possibly, for NaNoWriMo this year. It isn’t conventional to say the least when it comes to a life story, but it’s mine — well, ours — and it’s the only way I can tell it. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to gloss over certain experiences and things I deal with on a daily basis, mostly because it’s not been well received in the past. I’ve been met with disbelief or brushed off as an overactive imagination, which is the worst feeling not only for me, but for those I share this strange version of reality with. My alters and spirit guides, of which only I can see unless I draw them or agree to a switch, feel the brunt of the sting when they’re dismissed as much as I do.

My memoir isn’t just my story alone, but theirs as well as they live my life with me. This is a moment from it, edited for readability, but ultimately, it’s how it happened in what I call our ‘headspace,’ which is a difficult thing to explain. It not only takes place here in the reality we live in during actual events from my life, but upstairs in the space we share as well, which combines to create what I know and see of this reality. In this case, pertaining to a spirit guide, the lines become much more blurred.


I sat trembling internally in an uncomfortable institutional chair. The waiting room was almost empty save for one other person and the receptionist, and the clock was the only sound besides my own nervous breathing. I had made an appointment to discuss some issues I was having with the manager of my apartment building, but my best option was to just show up where her office was. Any calls would undoubtedly have gone unanswered and any other method to solve the problem was ineffective. I was down to one solution that left me with sweaty palms and quaking bones — heart hammering so loud that I’m sure others would have heard it if they paid any mind. My anxiety was my biggest hindrance in life, but this time, I wouldn’t allow it to get the best of me.

My breath caught in my throat as goosebumps traveled up my arms and a shiver ran up my spine. I felt the presence of something but I couldn’t quite place it, yet instinctively my eyes drifted over to the elevator. When the metal doors opened, I made eye contact with a very familiar figure. “Daro?” The name barely left my lips in a whisper as he smiled, approaching me with as much elegance as he always had before. My cheeks burned. He wasn’t in his usual attire. He wore small, rectangular wire-rimmed glasses with a white button-up shirt tucked neatly into a pair of black dress pants, a black tie, and a shiny pair of black dress shoes. His silver horns were visible, and his eyes shone with a light pink hue that reflected a hint of deviousness. My blood pressure rose for an entirely different reason than my anxiety. “Wow.”

“Yes, this does…” he paused for a moment before huffing and closing his eyes. “Suit me, does it not?”

“Did you just make a pun?”

“Perhaps. I do have a sense of humor from time to time. Humans have worn off on me, it seems.” He ‘tsked’ as he looked around, spotting the door to the offices around back. “Excuse me.”

“Wait!” The urge hit me to grab his sleeve and pull him back, but I realized quickly that it wasn’t possible to do.

“Dear Shane, I have some business to attend to.”

“Business? You’re not actually… now?! But you said—”

“I’d help you set that woman straight. A bit of fear can go a long way, can it not?”

“Well, yeah, but…” Someone cleared their throat loudly and I looked to see the receptionist opening the door to the back rooms where she disappeared. “Please don’t do anything irreparable.”

“I have much more class than that. Now, if you’ll excuse me. I cannot allow this to continue any longer.”

I fell back into my chair more comfortably knowing that Daro was nearby. I felt safe as my anxiety ebbed away, although I looked to the other waiting room guest out of self-consciousness. They seemed to be absorbed in a magazine and hadn’t realized anything was amiss with me. All I had to do then was wait.

* * *

After quite some time, Daro stepped back into the room, pausing to tuck his glasses into his shirt pocket. Oh dear. So the glasses had come off.

He approached me and invited me to stand, then led me to the stairs. “Shall we go for a walk? The weather is lovely and I believe there is an ice cream shop down the alley.”

“You — you want to get ice cream? Do you eat that stuff?”

“I enjoy things comprised mostly of sugar.” He smirked as we descended the stairs. “Although I am anything but sweet myself.”

“Besides that, can I ask you a question?”

“What is it?”

“Are you, um…” My heart skipped a beat. “Are you going to keep wearing that outfit?”

Daro hummed with amusement as we left the building. “If you like.”

As we sat outside with waffle cones, I couldn’t help but admire the beautiful weather. There was a slight breeze and it was in the low seventies, and the sun was out shining brightly. It strained my eyes, but it seemed to cause Daro’s to glisten even brighter. It was almost as if his eyes had a catlike ability to reflect the light.

He paused and stared right back at me, for I had apparently been gazing at him longer than was considered polite. I quickly busied myself with my ice cream and averted my eyes to the metaphysics shop across the way.

His baritone voice interrupted my buzzing mind. “Aren’t you curious?”

“Curious? About what?”

“What I accomplished in the back room with that woman?”

My face burned. “When you say it like that, it sounds kind of messed up.”

“Oh, dear.” He cringed. “Not with her.”

“I’d hope not.” I laughed and focused back on his eyes. “You didn’t hurt her, did you?”

“Of course not.” He tilted his head slightly to the side. “I can tell you one thing about that woman, and it is that she is highly miserable in her life. She does not hide it well. She wears it openly with her lack of care for her own image — it seeps forth from her very skin. I could taste it.”

“Really? I guess it’s kind of obvious.”

“You have more ability to see these things than you think.” Daro’s eyes drifted up to look at the sun, and then back to his ice cream. “It’s melting.”

“Yeah, heat does that.” I smiled as I finished my waffle cone, Daro’s still half-eaten in his hand, the ice cream dripping down his wrist to stain his white button-up. There was something strangely erotic about it that made my blood pressure rise again. He watched me curiously as I tried to hide my red face. As if to taunt me, he lifted his hand to unbutton the cuff around his wrist, rolling the sleeve up and then doing the same to the other. He then lifted his wrist to lick the ice cream dripping down his brown skin. My ears burned as I tried to look away. He knew what he was doing.

“You seem troubled.” The knowing smirk on his face widened. “Is the heat too much for you today?”

“It’s not even hot out. I mean, it’s hot — not what you just did, I mean. Oh god, it’s just the sun is—”

“Shall we carry on? The lakefront may do well to calm your nerves.”

“Yeah, and to get away from this crowd.” I stood up and began to panic. “Not that I want to be alone with you. I mean, we could stay in the crowd. That’s fine too. I’m not dying to go to the lake.”

“Calm yourself.” Daro chuckled before standing and tossing the remainder of his cone. “I enjoy the lake. It’s one of your realm’s most peaceful resting places and I believe you would do well with a bit of quiet.” He brushed past me, I hesitating before following him. “Perhaps a bit of privacy is warranted. I am quite good at calming you down.” His voice lowered impossibly more with the last word and it sent shivers up my spine despite the sun’s rays.

It was times like those that felt like a curse, but it was a wonderful curse.

©2019 Shane Blackheart

Excerpt from original writing: Baalthazar [M]

This excerpt is better suited for more mature readers, as well as those who don’t mind a bit of steamy interaction between two demons. A bit of mild adult content ahead.

This is taken from a much older story I started writing years and years ago. I found it again while going through my writing folder, and I missed the way I used to write for my spirit guides and alters when we explored the world we created to exist in together. I still, to this day, am not sure what or who Baalthazar really is. He’s the only one who hasn’t spoken up much or volunteered much at all about himself personally. Maybe one day he will be ready to open up. I suspect that if I continue with this story, he may just tell me more since he allowed me to see his vulnerability in this, but in the end, I know he’s only here because Daro is.


Baalthazar sat awkwardly beside the demon he had spent too much time searching for. He hadn’t really thought about what he would do once he found him, other than bring him back to Hell with him. The young demon was lonely as it was down there and spent a lot of time on his own in the little space he’d taken for himself. Daro had been the only one to ever pay him any mind, save for Lilith who would occasionally drop in to make sure he wasn’t royally screwing anything up. A demon obsessed with voodoo magick wasn’t one to be trifled with either, so she would usually do so at a safe distance. It wasn’t until Baalthazar had messed with the wrong demon that she’d finally come around to make sure he was alright. Daro hadn’t been there to protect him.

Lilith wouldn’t come with him, though. He tried to convince her that he knew nothing of the world above and she was better versed, even if she was a bit rusty on her basic human etiquette. Since Baalthazar had been the one to screw up, however, it was his own duty to fix it. The only way he knew how would be to leave for a little while and let things cool down — well, as much anything could cool down in Hell. He just knew that Asmodeus wasn’t one you wanted to piss off, and without his personal ‘guard dog’, as Lilith often called Daro, he was mostly defenseless. One could only control a powerful demon with voodoo magick caught unaware for so long.

“Baalthazar? You’ve grown silent.” Daro was staring at him patiently as their earlier conversation died off.

The young demon shook his head as if to be rid of unpleasant feelings and looked over to the fire that was still burning strong. It brought out the frightening orange hue in his eyes that made him unnerving to most. “I… was just thinking as I often tend to do, but not very often at the same time.” Baalthazar forgot to breathe when he felt Daro’s large hand covering his that had been sitting in his lap.

“You are troubled. I imagine it has to do with your parting from home?”

“Kind of — yes. With you gone I had no one there to… to really talk to, you know? I got bored so I did something stupid.” Baal bit his lip to try to stifle a giggle that escaped anyway. “It was worth it though. Very much worth it, indeed.”

“I see you have not been harmed in any way, but were you dealt punishment? Surely you are aware that demons are not to meddle within each other’s affairs or personal spaces without good reason.”

“I didn’t stay long enough to find out. Lilith told me I should leave, but she refused to come with me.” Baalthazar sighed and looked to the fire again as if longing for home. “So I wanted to look for you because I knew you were up here and I knew you would protect me like you always do.” A light blush lit up the young demon’s face and he unconsciously intertwined their fingers.

“It seems I am always picking up the pieces after one of your many disasters, little demon.” Daro smiled and lifted a hand to turn Baal’s face to meet his. His pink eyes were glowing, but not from the fire.

It caused that same uncomfortable feeling to rise within Baalthazar’s stomach he had been feeling when Daro was around, and he turned even redder. It was becoming harder and harder to hide the way he felt and he knew that Daro was most likely already aware of it more than he was. “I am sorry for that. I get quite bored, you see, because no one ever really bothers to, well, bother me so I end up having to make up my own kind of fun.”

“Which is devious at best, even for a demon, but you aren’t entirely demon, are you? I suppose that would be an apt excuse for your behavior.” Daro’s smile dropped from his face as he was nudged away.

“Please refrain from mentioning that out loud!” Baalthazar hugged himself and closed his eyes. “Why must you remind me of my fiend blood? I am a hybrid — a mistake that should not exist and everyone treats me as if I’m something dirty. Something disgusting and unworthy. Why do you have to remind me of that?!”

“It is not my desire to remind you of anything so horrible, little demon.” Daro reached out to draw Baalthazar close, which caught the young demon by surprise so much that he had to latch onto the toned body against him for support. “You are unique, this is true. You are not, however, a mistake nor are you a burden to Hell. As humans have their imperfections, so do demons. Many will not admit to their faults and rightfully so, as most demons are above wrong or right, but many are not willing to accept that which was not meant to initially exist.” Daro hummed a quiet laugh as Baalthazar’s claws gripped at his long black overcoat. “You exist because you are meant to exist. We all play a part in this strange world and in between, so why would you be any different, little demon? Perhaps their distaste of you is their unwillingness to accept a change that will force them to confront certain things within themselves they have never had a need for.”

“Like… affection?” Baalthazar’s breath came short as he rested the side of his face on Daro’s bare chest. The demon prince was darker skinned than most demons would appear, and it gave him a tribal yet exotic beauty that was difficult to ignore.

Daro chuckled and set a hand on Baalthazar’s head between his horns. “The very same affection that brought you into this world and your mother and father out of it.”

“Is that why I feel so disgusting?” Baal lifted his head to look up into Daro’s eyes, an expression of sadness betraying the prince’s true feelings staring back at him. Everything felt like it was happening at once and Baalthazar was afraid. “Every time I’m around you I feel like I’m going to be ill and it burns in a way that I can’t even describe.” It was happening again. As his hands rested against the taller demon’s bare chest, he couldn’t help but move his fingers along the tanned skin to feel its roughness. He knew very well that his embarrassing problem was very visible and that Daro must have noticed.

He had. A curious smile stole over Daro’s face the young demon had never seen before, one that was much darker than all the others that had been kind and warm. “I am aware of your struggle, little demon. You need not fight what is happening to you.”

“It’s not as if I can help it. I can’t just will it away whenever I want to feel normal again!” Baalthazar shifted to face Daro fully and climbed up to sit on his knees where it was more comfortable. “What did you do when it happened to you, Daro?”

“I had the pleasure of being in the company of a rather persuasive vampire.”

“No!” Baalthazar hissed. “That fiend comes nowhere near me!”

“I did not imply he would, little demon.” Daro laughed again. “I was merely recounting my experience.” He hugged Baalthazar to him again and ran his hand through the expanse of messy green hair. “I suspect yours will be equally enjoyable as mine was.”

“You’re making an awful lot of assumptions.” Baal pulled away and looked up at his superior. “I want nothing to do with this kind of madness.”

“You seem to be expressing the opposite sentiment. I assume you remain so close to me because of your affections.”

“That…” Baalthazar averted his gaze only for his head to be turned to look back into Daro’s eyes. “I look up to you and you are very admirable, Daro. Am I to blame?”

“There is no need to attach such negativity to these feelings.” Baalthazar closed his eyes as Daro ran his thumb across the young demon’s bottom lip. “Perhaps, if you will allow me…”

Baalthazar swallowed hard as he felt Daro’s body heat between them, his own mirroring just how much he truly did desire it. He made no further struggle as Daro brought their lips together. It was soft and innocent — just enough to test how the younger demon would react. When there was no rejection, Daro slid his hand beneath Baal’s jaw and coaxed his mouth open to find a way past the sharp teeth. The younger demon responded eagerly as a wave seemed to crash over him at once, his breath hot in the demon prince’s mouth as he slowly lost the battle he’d been fighting for too long. An embarrassing moan escaped him as he felt a clawed hand on his thigh, Daro’s hand creeping higher before squeezing as if to gain permission before going further.

Baalthazar took the moment to pull back, his face flushed darker than before as he was rendered breathless. “That was strange. Too strange. Maybe we should… We should stop this.”

Daro smiled in a way that was more inviting. “Come here, Baalthazar. I only wish to ease your pain.”

The younger demon rose up onto his knees and wrapped his arms around Daro, hugging the taller demon’s head against his chest. “You cannot possibly find me desirable.” Baalthazar breathed the words as claws wandered up his leg once more. His hips rocked at the sensation that sent shocks of pleasure pulsing into his desire.

Daro chuckled against his chest and slid his lips over to tease a nipple with his tongue. Another embarrassing moan escaped the younger demon. “Would you like me to prove that you are false, little demon?”

“I am afraid.” A shiver ran down Baal’s spine as claws just barely grazed the bulge in his tight jeans.

“There is no need to be.” Daro released the younger demon and leaned back on his hands, coaxing Baalthazar to join him.

Baal got onto his hands and knees and crawled over Daro, but not before observing him carefully. He stopped between Daro’s knees and found that the demon prince was just as aroused as he was. “You… you desire me?”

“Very much, little demon. The opinions of others are not my own, so you need not doubt me.” He welcomed Baalthazar into another kiss before resuming his tortures with his hand, this time sliding up to squeeze the bulge in the young demon’s pants. “Stop me if you become uncomfortable.” Daro whispered the words against Baalthazar’s lips as his fingers fumbled with the button on the younger demon’s jeans, and he pulled them open.

There was no resistance that time.

© 2019 Shane Blackheart

Excerpt from Original writing: Heart of Hades [M]

This post contains mild adult content. While tame, it’s best suited for more mature readers.

This is a potential scene in a new story I want to write, but it popped into my head a few nights ago and I had to write it out. Since it’s Pride month, I figured I’d post it here. Although Hades/Death can really be genderless or any gender, Hades/Death is male in this story.


“No.” Hades grabbed Gaspar’s jaw and held it in place. “We cannot. It is not your time.”

Gaspar huffed a frustrated breath and wrapped his hand around Hades’ wrist. The truth had already come out about Annabelle and he’d had enough time to be angry about it, but it gave him the chance to face his fears and spend eternity searching for her if he had to. That also meant giving up his own life, which he was prepared to do for Hades anyway. He couldn’t fight it anymore.

His heart hammered in his coma-ridden body, and he could feel the heat claiming his insides as he focused on the mouth of Death itself. A year ago he wouldn’t have believed it were possible. To love Death was stupid, but it was even more stupid to consider that Death would love him in return.

Hades didn’t have to say anything. His fear for taking Gaspar’s life with a mere kiss said enough, and the way the entity’s hand trembled as it slid over the young man’s mouth took the very breath from him. Gaspar closed his eyes and opened his mouth to allow the long clawed fingers to drift across his lips, and he felt a pang deep down inside.

“It’s my time. Please.” Gaspar opened his eyes and stared into the milky white abyss of Death’s gaze, wondering if the entity had a soul. “I can’t leave you now, and I have nothing waiting for me.”

“Are you suggesting I go against nature’s rule?” Hades smirked.

“I’m saying it’s my time.” Gaspar raised his eyebrows as if it should be obvious what he meant.

Hades’ eyes widened when he realized it at last. “Suicide?”

Gaspar smiled and moved the pale hand covering his face. “What better way to die? And you bet your ass I’ll keep searching for my twin sister.”

Hades moved to protest but was rendered speechless at the determination in the man’s gaze. It was that same determination that caused him to even consider their original deal. He closed his eyes, and in that moment he knew he’d tiptoed around messing with fate.

Gaspar pressed his lips to Hades’, his kiss turning into something deeper as he felt the hand on his face smooth back to caress his cheek. It took mere seconds to notice the shift, and Gaspar backed away in a choking fit. Hades stood there watching him as he hacked, and he grabbed at his chest. For a moment, fear struck Gaspar before a faint ringing in his ears alerted him to a monitor’s flatline, and he felt a release like none other.

Gaspar fell to his knees and arched his back, Hades coming down to meet him. The entity smoothed the young man’s hair back as he moaned into the ether, and his legs squeezed together. Gaspar grabbed Hades, much to the entity’s surprise, and kissed him hard as his tongue sought out a way past the sharp teeth.

Hades chuckled darkly as Gaspar rode out his release, and the kiss finally calmed as the young man’s body ceased its rocking. “You have experienced something that a human never has thus far.”

Nnnggg.” Gaspar’s embarrassing moan made him clamp his mouth shut.

Hades chuckled again. “When a soul is released, the body has already died. A human is not able to live through such a thing. To experience such a release is the ultimate bliss.”

“Am I really dead?”

“Do you feel quite different?”

“Besides needing a shower?” Gaspar laughed. “I was already dead the moment I stepped foot into this realm with you. I had no intention of going back.”

“You are quite the devil. You have bested me.” Hades stood and helped Gaspar to his feet. “I give you my congratulations.”

“And did I win you?” Gaspar smiled and wrapped his arms around Hades, kissing him again.

The entity returned it with vigor, something stirring deep within him that he’d felt before but pushed down. Now, there was no reason to hold back. He’d already messed up by falling for a human, and now that he was bested, it was time to learn what love meant to Gaspar’s kind. Hades resurfaced. “Yes, Gaspar. You have won me.”

“Then come be with me.” Gaspar grinned before slipping his hand between and down Hades’ robe. “And this time, we can kiss.”

The entity sighed as Gaspar’s hand coaxed him further away from his purpose. It still surprised him that it was even possible. It had surprised Gaspar back when it had happened for the first time too. But now was not the time for self-reflection. Hades returned the gesture by feathering his long fingers down Gaspar’s front, just barely tucking them beneath the waist of the young man’s jeans. “Yes. Let’s.”

© 2019 Shane Blackheart

Dog Days – original writing


The mug of catnip tea was trembling in his hands, and his black fur bristled beneath his gray sweater as the heavy-voiced pitbull delivered the news. It was as if the TV set was underwater, and everything around him was closing in fast.

A gentle hand on his shoulder ceased the impending doom if only for a moment. He leaned against a broad wolf’s shoulder, his boyfriend’s gray fur ticking his pink nose. “Sorry, Striker.”

“Hey, you’re fine, buddy. Just drink your tea.” The wolf’s soft tone was much more welcome than the sharp delivery invading the dark living room, and Striker found himself thankful for the sudden downpour outside. “I’ll keep you safe. Always. You know that, right, Sam?”

“Thank you. Just… give me a minute. I’m sorry.” The cat sipped his steaming tea and waited for the blanket of calm to wash over him. It was hard to come across catnip in that day and age, but he was thankful to know a few who grew the stuff. It was getting harder and harder to find reputable sources for it anyway, what with the police dogs’ superior sense of smell. They could sense a few plants of catnip from a mile away. Bloodhounds were like that.

“Hey, why don’t we change the channel? I think it’s time for your favorite show, anyway.” Striker fumbled with the chunky remote in his claws before switching to something more cheerful, and a beautiful white cat appeared on the screen. She smiled with a glow that most did not, and she planted herself on a stool where she crossed her legs, her white sundress with palm leaves falling gracefully just above her knees. She pulled out a book and began to read.

It was a rainy night in June when Tabitha fell into her dream. She rarely tripped or stumbled, or waltzed gracefully into it, but released herself into it fully, granting it ownership of her perceived reality. Sometimes she would fall flat or drift gently onto a chaise lounge, and at other times she would be welcomed by semblances of creatures she knew with blank faces, all smiling with whiskers upturned.

Adventurous opossums and bats and platypi greeted her with kinship, and the Dodo once had her over for supper. She’d danced with butterflies and spoken to young foxes, and stargazed with raccoons. She’d seen the future and traipsed through the past, Bastet greeting her with motherly grace. Through all of this, Tabitha knew peace and love, home and comfort, and it was her kind of unreality. It was her homesick and her tears, and her fond memories yet to come.’

Samhain sighed as the catnip calmed his aching muscles and tickled his brain. He’d spent the better part of the day tense and with worry, the sight of Catty on screen bringing him a semblance of home at last. The news had been filled with nothing but bad things, and politics had become more and more unbearable to behold. It was bad enough that he was in hiding with Striker, and Striker knew as well the risks they had to take.

Love did not come easy in those times, and especially not for the others.

Samhain was othered, and Striker was not. It was pure fate that they’d managed to find comfort in each other, and as the bulldog-majority government created more and more restrictions for felines in society, Striker stood by Samhain through all of it. He was as loyal a companion as canines were thought to be. As they were to their own kind and only their kind.

Tears threatened to spill over Samhain’s golden eyes as a poodle stood from the crowd on television. She barked loudly toward the stage and threw a rotten fish that landed directly on the book in Catty’s hands after slapping her in the face. The short-haired cat paid it no mind and brushed it off, and continued reading as if it hadn’t happened at all. The poodle was ushered out of the room, and the cats in the audience began to murmur and growl in displeasure.

Striker grabbed for the remote again. “Hey, we don’t have to keep watching this.”

“No, it’s fine.” Samhain’s claws drifted up to turn the wolf’s face to meet his, and he kissed him softly. “It’s far better than anything else on TV right now, and Catty is so wonderful. Her peace of mind is contagious.”

Striker’s face twisted in sadness as he watched his partner stare glassy-eyed at the TV, the catnip claiming his conscious thoughts. For a moment a great emotion welled up within him, and his heart beat faster behind his red flannel. He turned Samhain to look him in the eyes, his equally as golden. “Sam, are you okay?”

“Of course.” The cat chuckled humorlessly. “I have to be, don’t I?”

The rain outside became a torrent and thunder resounded. Shortly after, the electricity in their small suburban home flickered. Striker paid it no mind as his ears drooped. “No, you don’t have to be. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes.”

Samhain paused and inhaled deeply. His catnip tea was nearly gone. He turned his head to stare at the TV again, Catty having once more continued with the poetic journey of Tabitha the Persian cat. He then drifted back to Striker, who hadn’t stopped observing him. His heart sunk. “I’m scared. There isn’t a way in this world for me, nor for anyone of feline descent. My heart flutters and my fur prickles, and my tail curls between my legs. My breaths come short and my purr is a deception to my truth, and every day I look into your eyes, as beautiful as they are, and I question you.”

“You question me?”

“But then I realize you are not like them. I realize you are one of the lucky ones.” Samhain smiled and pecked Striker’s black nose before returning to Catty.

As the rain poured outside and the thunder boomed, the two became one with the sofa and basked in the sole light of the TV set flickering in the room, and they knew they were with each other and that they were where they needed to be, and that they would be safe.

They had to be.

© 2019 Shane Blackheart

Two years that changed the rest of my life

Byleth and Daro are both spirit guides I communicate with daily, and Lestan is one of my alters I met when I was twelve.

Rarely have I shared or written about how I met them, nor have I divulged actual conversations we’ve had at the time of this writing. Everything here is real in my sense of the word, although it may not seem so to the average person. There is a lot more to this world than many people realize, and here I have no reason to lie about it. I consider myself lucky to have my spirit guides and alters in my life.

All of this is true and accurate to the best of my memory. The dialogue near the end is taken directly from a conversation I’d recorded between me, Daro, Byleth, and Lestan from November 23, 2016.

This is the story of how I met Byleth, as well as my struggles with anorexia and anxiety.

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“I think this is what I’ve been looking for.”

I scrolled through the expanding page of text as I moved deeper and deeper into something I’d always needed. It was the answer to all of my questions — a place I could finally find comfort. I was on the right path in life at last.

Daro smiled and stood before me as I read, all six feet of him in his dark skin surrounded by long black hair. He was pleased with my discovery of Philosophy for Spiritual Satanists and the answers I’d finally found. “I believe you will now begin to see better things. What you had explored before was not the right path. You were on the precipice, but nearer to danger than you realized at the time.”

“I really hope so. Stopping hormone replacement therapy has really put a halt to my life, but this seems to be a guiding light, for lack of a better phrase,” I laughed. Daro felt the humor as well before it died down. I sighed. “I’m going to work on the animation I’m making. I can’t believe how far I’ve gotten with it.”

“You may be attracting more attention through that as well.” Daro smiled darkly, a glint in his eye. He was referring to my script featuring the fallen angel Byleth and the demon Mephistopheles.

“Mephistopheles?”

“Not quite. Let us see how this plays out.” He disappeared into the shadows again, an odd feeling reverberating in the back of my skull as I opened the animation program. The movie was almost complete and ready for recording.

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I finished the first part of the film and my heart was full. It had been a long time since I was so excited about a project, let alone so enthusiastic about finishing it. I’d rarely seen projects to the end before, so it was an accomplishment in itself already. I was also head over heels for the main antagonist turned neutral force, Byleth.

In the beginning, I’d searched for a demon to fit the role of the antagonist in the first film. It was a continuation from a story I wrote while in the hospital a few years ago, but I’d taken it in a new direction. The main characters Mephistopheles and Sean — Sean being the renamed version of my self-insert — had to deal with the punishment of king Byleth, a fallen angel who crafted a disease to destroy humankind as a lesson against love between a human and a demon. To him, love was a weakness and a disgusting thing to share with a human at that.

He became something more than I’d intended. The fallen angel crept into my thoughts regularly, Bittersweet, Love Is War forming in my mind as I craved to see more of him. Everything had come together wonderfully, and I’d written a movie that was just over an hour long for the first time in my life.

I was beaming. Byleth received compliments from the animation community I contributed to, and they were all praises for his uniqueness. I couldn’t have been happier or more accomplished in my writing at the time. I definitely wanted to explore more of him and stretch things out as much as I could.

I decided to relax after a long day of walking the following Saturday. The allergic reaction I’d had from the hormones I’d taken for my transition finally wore off, and I treated the pain with a medication that turned my stomach into an active volcano. I curled up on my sofa with a box of Cheez-Its, and I pressed play on the film I’d been seeking out for a few years. Ivan Mosjoukine starring in Casanova during pre-code Hollywood, a film from the early 1900s.

It was only a short time before my nightly medication made me drowsy, and I made the necessary preparations for bed. The computer was off, I put the box of crackers back in the cupboard, and I turned off the lights. As I moved to adjust the thermostat to make it cooler, a tightness in my chest made it difficult to breathe. I thought nothing more of it, attributing it to the acid reflux I’d experienced for a week straight.

I crawled into bed and found Lestan waiting for me. Smiling, I propped myself up against the back wall and opened Instagram on my phone. Dreams threatened to claim me as I scrolled, but I avoided sleep as much as I was able. I absolutely despised it due to old habits from childhood. Panic attacks would warn me that sleep brought the next day, which brought school and, in turn, the excessive bullying and loneliness I’d dealt with. I fought the Sandman with all my might.

An electric shock reverberated up the back of my neck. I was faint, my sight growing hazy and dark at the edges. “Lestan, it’s happening again,” I mumbled. It had been years since I’d had an episode like it last. Panicking, Lestan leaned over me as I attempted to lie down but failed. Everything went black.

When I came to, my vision was nothing but a bright blur as I convulsed. A deafening ring invaded my head and my arms tensed in the air twitching, my throat croaking a low, rumbling gasp for air. When my vision cleared and the ringing faded, I stared across the room as a low buzz settled into my limbs. ‘Lestan.’ It was the first normal sound in my mind. I needed Lestan.

“Baby, you okay?” His voice. His short black hair and red eyes. He hugged me as I lied down to recover from whatever in the hell that was.

“It happened again.” A panicked tremor crawled up my limbs.

“I know, baby. It’s going to be okay.” He couldn’t hide his worry. Mine hadn’t found my waking mind yet. I’d lost consciousness like that in the past due to severe panic attacks, but they’d been in remission for years. I was blind-sighted. I’d been completely calm.

This was something else. I was sure of it. “Hospital. I need to call 911.” I reached for my phone as I stuttered and dialed the emergency line. They were on their way, and I was crawling slowly to the door to unlock it.

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A few days passed, but I was still recovering.

Lestan kept a close eye on me and my mom tried to reassure me, as well as doctors, that it wasn’t anything to worry about. It was a freak accident — a thing called vasovagal syncope — that happened to people without explanation. I was healthy and I was going to be okay, but my body was weak, tired, and useless. By the third day, I regained some of my strength and started to feel human again.

I returned to Bittersweet, Love Is War, the film I was making, but I hadn’t the strength to voice act. I did the work anyway, my enthusiasm for the film and my excitement at seeing Byleth on the screen again the boost I needed. It lifted my spirits and did well to keep my mind on better things and better days to come.

That night, I read through the Philosophy for Spiritual Satanists page again. Daro and Lestan were at my side. Another presence was there too, one that felt familiar even though I’d never experienced it before. It was then that I caught sight of shoulder-length blond hair, golden horns, and a familiar white lab coat with a red shirt beneath — just like the one in my film. Red eyes glistened with amusement as the very being I’d been obsessed with stood before me. He looked just like I’d made him. “Byleth?”

“What did you expect? You said my name enough times. I was either having a damn good time getting laid or I was being summoned.” He sat in the chair at my table to watch me. Lestan and Daro were as intrigued as I was, and my delight at the way Byleth moved and spoke in the manner I’d written him was overwhelming. He was tall with an athletic build, his face chiseled and so beautiful it was a sin in itself.

He chuckled as I stared. “Would I have let you make my likeness into anything but perfection?”

Daro broke his silence. “You are quite vain.”

I glanced at Lestan, who was more than curious about the new company. He threw a sultry look the fallen angel’s way. “You are damned gorgeous, love.”

“Of course I am,” Byleth sighed. “We covered this. And by the way, I am a fallen angel and you will address me as such. I don’t identify with lowly demons.”

“What about Daro, though?” I asked. Worry hit me at once. Byleth was a king of Hell who was extremely dangerous if disrespected. He was a master of science and governed over an impossible legion of lower demons, and he was an ex-angel who once occupied the seventh throne in Heaven. I was also aware that he could become one’s best friend, capable of giving love to those he deemed worthy.

“Daro is the more bearable of demons I’ve come across.” Byleth was nonchalant. “I have no problem with him.”

“Wait a minute.” My mind struggled to piece everything together. A bigger question begged to be asked no matter how crazy I felt about it. After all, Daro — Darokin more proper — had been the only demon I’d come across in my life. No other had come to me as Byleth did. “My health scare the other night and my discovery of Philosophy for Spiritual Satanists, as well as this movie I’m making — did you influence all of it?”

“The problem you had the other night was unfortunate.” He spoke matter of factly and formally, observing his claws. “Not many can handle my energy at first due to the power of it.” He glanced back at me and smiled flirtatiously. “You’ll be fine. You just have to get used to it.”

“But will I be weak and sick until then?”

“Probably not. It was a shock to your system. That I hadn’t intended for.”

“Byleth is no threat, Shane.” Daro smiled. “As long as you are loyal to your spiritual path and us, Byleth can be a very valuable friend and ally.”

“Don’t speak for me, demon,” Byleth interrupted. “But yes. Daro is right.”

“Okay.” I smiled. “Okay, so this is good.” I realized I’d grown cold and shivered. My sweaters and slippers were in my bedroom, and I didn’t think anything more of it as I stood. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

Byleth’s red eyes followed me with interest as I made my way down the dark hall. His footsteps caused a lump to form in my throat as my already frayed nerves stirred beneath my skin. I tried to pay him no mind and entered my bedroom. The closet door squeaked aside on its track as I rustled around in my dresser, and upon turning with socks in hand, Byleth was leaning against the open closet door. His intimidating stature blocked out most of the light as his horns scraped the ceiling.

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Tremors loosened my grip and spread to my stomach and legs. I swallowed audibly. He found all of this amusing and flashed a picture-perfect smile that reflected in his glowing crimson eyes. “Do you fear me?”

“Yes. I do.” Fear welled up inside me that I wasn’t familiar with. I was dealing with a being far older and more powerful than I’d ever encountered in my life. Of course, Daro was very old himself and a prince of Hell at that, but Byleth was something else entirely. He was ancient royalty and had managed to keep his crown even after descending from Heaven.

His pale, clawed hand brushed affectionately beneath my jaw. “Good, although you have nothing to fear. I mean you no harm. In fact, I’m quite curious…” He observed me in a way that made me feel naked. I grew warm and covered my fully-clothed body with my arms. “I’d like to try a little experiment,” he continued. “I’ve never encountered a human like you before.”

“What do you mean ‘experiment’?” I shivered. “You’re not going to do like… an autopsy, are you?”

He laughed deeply and backed away, beckoning for me to follow him to my bed. “Of course not, idiot. Lie down.” I obeyed, not wanting to challenge a king of Hell. He sat beside me and ran a hand down my front. I flinched at his touch not out of fear or distaste, but because he’d brushed over a part of me that I often tried to forget about. He sighed in frustration. “I’m not trying to make you dysphoric. You are a man, although your situation seems unfortunate.”

“Was I meant to be born a man?” I realized with excitement that the answer to my questions sat beside me in the form of a fallen angel, feeling me up with interest as if he were observing my body in a purely scientific manner. I twitched again. That last touch was definitely not scientific.

He paused in his wanderings. “It’s a shame. Yes, it seems you were born in the wrong form, weren’t you? The Universe gives challenges it thinks you can handle, though. I wonder what the reason was.” He chuckled and moved to lift my shirt, which I quickly tugged back down on impulse. He huffed in annoyance and moved my hands, pulling it up roughly. “I’m only curious. Calm your tits, okay?”

I stifled a laugh. He truly was the Byleth I’d been writing about and unconsciously calling to, but the Byleth in my story was averse to any kind of affection. This Byleth — the true Byleth — was a lot more touchy than I’d expected.

He seemed to know what was puzzling me. “You got most of me right, sugar. However, I’m not the reserved prude that I once was.” He trailed a claw along the hemline of my pajama pants. My stomach twitched beneath the tickle and he chuckled seductively, flashing bedroom eyes that caused the energy in the room to shift. The lightbulb in my lamp flickered. “Let’s try a different kind of experiment. I much more prefer things to be hands-on.” He straddled me and snapped his fingers, his lab coat and shirt disappearing. “Oh, and I hope you have spare lightbulbs. I think you’re already aware of the reason for that.”

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I became very sick.

Rather it was because my body was adjusting to Byleth’s energy or my actual struggles with anxiety, which was most likely, I was anorexic and bedridden. Byleth often made cruel jokes that loaned to my negative body image. Lestan chastised him several times before he eventually apologized in his own way, something he wasn’t prone to do. I believe, as he watched my decline and how sick I’d become, he finally realized the harm he was doing. Byleth became a daily dose of tough love with my best interests in mind after that. The scientist in him kept my anxiety in check, although at times I would still doubt him. He almost gave up on me a few times because of that.

I lied in bed for weeks on end, not eating and becoming weaker. I was afraid to leave my apartment and I was afraid to eat. Food upset my stomach and I lost more and more weight — almost twenty pounds in two weeks. No one but my counselor and one close friend seemed to care. My mom got angry with me, reminding me that I was just going to waste away and die if I continued. I believed I was sick. I truly felt that I had some serious illness that was going to kill me or leave me an invalid in the hospital.

I also saw how thin it made me, and through my fear, I felt my body looked good. My family doctor told me I looked great after diagnosing me with anorexia, and another doctor stated I looked good with the weight loss. My friends on social media commented about how good I looked as well where I normally didn’t receive so many compliments, and I fit into form-fitting clothing that made me feel attractive despite being weak and sick. I had more reasons than not to keep losing weight. My chest was shrinking too, which was a boon.

Enforcement to continue starving myself was all around me, but deep down was a sadness that contradicted it all. A part of me wished that someone would help me. My body was so damaged and I needed someone to care because I didn’t care about myself.

Throughout all of this, Lestan, Daro, and Byleth were there every single day.

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Lestan cuddled close to me when I was too weak to get out of bed. He would sing to me and assure me that better days were to come. I knew well enough what that was doing to him. He’d lost his sister centuries ago after becoming a vampire, and he couldn’t bear to lose someone he loved so much again. Through his fear, he held me during the night terrors and the sleep paralysis episodes induced by anxiety and malnutrition. Byleth was there as well watching and learning my patterns, often yelling at me to get on my feet and at least try something other than being an invalid.

It was the night before Thanksgiving 2016 when everything changed.

“You need to do this!” Byleth was angry, his red eyes swimming with a dangerous fire. I’d rarely seen him so genuinely upset.

“If my anxiety is too bad tomorrow, I can just cancel.” I headed to the bathroom, annoyed it wouldn’t deter Byleth from his tirade.

“You need to go.”

“Why do you guys always bug me while I’m in the bathroom?”

“Because this is when your head is out of your computer long enough to listen.” Byleth’s voice rose in volume. If I hadn’t been at my lowest, I would have been rightfully scared of the demonic growl that permeated the fallen angel’s voice.

“I listen to you guys while I’m on the computer. We make things together. The recordings–“

“You need to go tomorrow.” He clenched his jaw. “Be strong, damn it, and start acting like the man you are!”

“Byleth…” I sighed as I laid back in the bed where I’d spent most of my days. Lestan was there, but he was as emotionally exhausted as everyone else. I curled up beside him and grabbed my phone, trying in vain to just get on with my night. I wanted to forget that my family had plans for the holiday.

“You need to stop this bullshit!” Byleth backtracked as soon as the words left his mouth. He was still trying to control his inclination to overt bluntness that often upset me. “I’m not saying you’re just going to wake up one day and be over this, but you know what I mean. The only way to overcome this is to fight it.” I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, my tired eyes watching as he tore into me with an emotion I’d never seen him display. “You’ve been like this for months. You keep worrying about the what-ifs, but there is nothing wrong with you. You have been evaluated by several doctors and they’ve found nothing. Neither Daro nor I am a threat to your health either. God damn it, just find your resolve! You can’t keep living like this!”

If he was human, Byleth would have been shaking with anger, but the energy around him was vibrating instead, his eyes glowing and wild. In a moment of clarity, fear claimed me. “I understand, Byleth, but I’m afraid.”

“You know I do not do family gatherings or holidays, but so help me if it’s what it takes to kick your ass out the door, I will.” He looked off to the side, his rage cooling. “And then I’ll give you even more Hell about that.”

Daro smirked from where he sat in the wicker rocking chair in the corner, his pale pink eyes glimmering. It seemed that he was aware of some big secret, but it was in his nature to be silent — simply observing and letting the natural cycle of events unfold as they were meant to. Disturbing them would interrupt something important.

I sighed in frustration. “Can’t I just stay home and cook my own turkey while we finish some projects? Maybe fuck a few times and forget the rest of the world exists?”

Byleth wouldn’t budge. “As enticing as that sounds, no. You are going.”

Daro finally broke his silence. “Perhaps it would be best to let him decide, Byleth. He knows his limits better than any other. We may be demons but we cannot truly feel what any human may be feeling at any given time.”

“FALLEN. ANGEL. I am a fallen angel!” Byleth’s ethereal blood pressure rose again to the boiling point. A tiger-like growl from deep within his chest reverberated throughout the room.

Daro tried in vain to neutralize him. “You are upset. Please, try to calm yourself.”

“Of course I’m upset!” Byleth roared. “I don’t just choose any human to be worthy of my presence, let alone my friendship. I chose him because he has proven himself to be resilient at the worst of times. I refuse to accept any less.”

“Why do you care so much?” Exhaustion caused several emotions to weigh me down. No amount of fighting was going to solve anything. “Why do you care about me?”

Byleth paused, his finger raised in a threatening gesture before he withdrew. Words escaped him. This irritated him worse than all else as a loss of words wasn’t something he often experienced. He huffed angrily instead of continuing.

Daro chuckled, amused with his fallen king. “Do you like our dear Shane more than you let on?”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Byleth became defensive, the words falling from his lips like pure venom.

“It’s okay, Daro,” I droned. “I understand the limitations that the fallen and demons have when it comes to human emotions. While you may care for me in a way that wasn’t natural to you at first, which I am grateful for, Byleth is a king of Hell. He could never care that much for me.”

Byleth punched the wall behind him. “Are you deaf, you fucking imbecile? What do you call this, then? My bitching you out for the last few minutes wasn’t enough for you to see it?” A tiger-like rumble permeated every word as it rose from deep in his chest, a demonic growl of warning that promised danger to anyone who dared entice it.

His fist against the wall sent my heart into my throat. The growl coaxed my fear to the surface, my pulse quickening as I’d realized just how angry I’d made him. I’d lost sight of who and what he truly was due to familiarity. Byleth didn’t have to remain — he didn’t even have to entertain me for as long as he had. I was being pitiful while he got himself worked up with anger, no doubt trying his best to contain what he truly wanted to do. The fact that he’d held so much back for me should have been a sign of his true feelings.

Tears formed in my burning eyes. I was, for the first time since I’d met him, truly afraid. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you mad or speak for you.” I stumbled over my words and ended up sputtering out the very thing I had been afraid to admit to him. “I love you, Byleth. Don’t go. Don’t hate me.”

He sobered and raised a questioning eyebrow. Every muscle seemed to relax at once as he spoke. “You what?”

“I don’t want you to leave me, please,” I mumbled in my tiredness. Lestan rubbed my back, his silence due to not wanting to escalate what had already been tumultuous.

“No, no the other thing.” Byleth made an impatient gesture with his hand in the air.

My tears dried and I watched him. He hadn’t reacted as horribly as I’d feared. “Um, I’m sorry? Don’t hate me?”

He huffed in response. One more thing you’re missing.”

I searched for the words again, my nerves frayed as I tried to force myself to say them once more. When they finally left me, they were shaky and uncertain. No one should ever admit such a thing to a being of Hell and I knew that, but I also knew that Byleth was different. “I said I love you.”

“You love me?” He was caught off guard, his body language uncertain as to what emotion to display. Surely, he also knew how stupid it was for a human to give such words power to a being like him.

“Yes, like I do the others.” Words came easier now, my confidence coming back to me as I watched Byleth’s unease. “Like I do Lestan and Daro. I love you, Byleth.”

He leaned back against the wall, his eyes shifting to find something to look at that wasn’t me. “That’s a new one.” He huffed a laugh. “You’re not supposed to love an entity from Hell.”

“But I do,” I pressed. “I do love you.”

He finally focused on my tired brown eyes. “You really mean that?” The warning that accompanied those words did not escape me. I knew I had just made a decision I couldn’t take back, but being at such a low point in my life, I didn’t care. I knew where I belonged and who I belonged with.

“Yes.” As soon as the simple word left my lips, Byleth crossed the room and climbed over me. He pinned me down with a kiss that had more meaning behind it than any other we’d shared. This wasn’t a moment of objectification of the act itself for pleasure, it was with the intent that there would be many more like it. Everything had shifted and nothing would be the same again, and Lestan and Daro knew it too as all tension finally left the room.

Byleth smiled down at me as I surfaced for air, and he whispered across my lips. “Love is the highest form of flattery, sugar.”

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Ever since that night, Byleth hasn’t left my side.

He, Lestan, and Daro have all been a constant presence in my life. There are others who pop in at random times as well. In the end, though, I’ve learned one important thing that I always seem to forget.

I’m never truly alone. I have an amazing support system right here. I see them, I hear them, and I know they are there. It’s an honest form of love that not many people experience with each other, and it’s a connection I’ve had since I’d first met Lestan when I was twelve years old. It’s something special, and I truly think they are all here to help me stay on the right path.

©2018-2020 Shane Blackheart
Revised on March 30, 2020