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It was something between penance and wooing a lover. Jackie had to take it slowly, give the Darkness all the sweet, twisted words it wanted to hear. No, it didn't belong to him, he acknowledged, but didn't Jackie belong to it? Didn't that rate for something?

If his life was a bit less dangerous, he would embrace the loss. To live without the Darkness, for whatever short period he got to live, would have been intoxicating. At least, he had always thought so.

But the longer he goes with only a tiny portion of it inside of him, the more he has to acknowledge that he needed it. That he loved it in a sick way that stripped him to the blackest portions of his soul and left him wanting. There was nothing filling him, now, nothing so obsessed with him as to hide in a miniscule cavity and grow him a new body.

He was done. It was done with him. He felt...incomplete.

And, throwing away what little caution he had, he let it know. Jackie let the Darkness feel his despair, gambling over the idea that it couldn't possibly enjoy his pain so much that it would lose him, its faithful, if misguided, servant. Hadn't he been its favorite?

After what felt like years, he thought its resolve was weakening. It wasn't as quiet, the voices it spoke to him with lacked the sweet edge of pure malicious energy. The very first sign that it might take him back, he collapsed within it, unable to stop the sheer relief pounding through him.

It liked that. And it caressed him in the cocoon it made him, locked him away from the rest of the world to give them privacy, to rebuild their connection. Jackie had never felt anything so intimate, even at the height of his usage, he had always blocked something of the Darkness out, kept tight hold of the few morals he had left and of the ever present doubt in the force behind his powers.

Jackie couldn't afford to hold back any longer. The Darkness would leave him, powerless and bereft, to die at the hands of the Angelus or whatever other enemies he couldn't hide from. This was his last chance.

He sobbed within it, feeling it filling him, tainting every particle of his being. Its own form of emotions raged through him, a sort of evil affection, an obvious obsession, pouring through his mind. No one, nothing, had ever cared about him as much. Human beings couldn't manage such intense feelings.

You see, Jackie-boy, it whispered to him, searing into his brain each syllable it deigned to give him, You see what we mean to each other?

Nodding in answer was all he could do, his mouth, his throat filled with almost-physical shadows, blocking out any noise he would make. The Darkness knew, regardless, picked at his brain and read all his deepest, darkest thoughts.

Never deny us again, Jackie. Never. Again. We forgive you so much, but it's not really in our nature.

You love me, he thought, noticing the quiver around him as the Darkness heard.

More than you love us.

He wondered if that was possible. He was answered with jerking cackles, the Darkness enjoying his new found dedication.