“Think about it,” I told her. “What if you do have a choice? A life of your own to lead? What if, huh? And you don’t even try to choose?”
I let that sink in for a while.
There was a sound from the far side of the room.
It was a very quiet, very miserable little sound.
I’ve made sounds like that before – mostly when there was no one around to care. The part of me that knew what it was to hurt could feel the fallen angel’s pain, and it gouged out a neat little hole in me, somehow. It was a vaguely familiar feeling, but not an entirely unpleasant one.
Loneliness is a hard thing to handle. I feel it, sometimes. When I do, I want it to end. Sometimes, when you’re near someone, when you touch them on some level that is deeper than the uselessly structured formality of casual civilized interaction, there’s a sense of satisfaction in it. Or at least, there is for me.
It doesn’t have to be someone particularly nice. You don’t have to like them. You don’t even have to want to work with them. You might even want to punch them in the nose. Sometimes just making that connection is its own experience, its own reward.
With Marcone, it was like that. I didn’t like the slippery bastard. But I understood him. His word was good. I could trust him – trust him to be cold, ferocious, and dangerous, sure. But it was reassuring to know that there was something there to trust. The connection had been made.
Lasciel’s mere shadow was infinitely more dangerous to me than Marcone, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t admire the creature for what it was while respecting the threat it posed to me. It didn’t mean I couldn’t feel some kind of empathy for what had to be a horribly lonely way to exist.
Life’s easier when you can write off others as monsters, as demons, as horrible threats that must be hated and feared. The thing is, you can’t do that without becoming them, just a little. Sure, Lasciel’s shadow might be determined to drag my immortal soul down to Perdition, but there was no point in hating her for it. It wouldn’t do anything but stain me that much darker.
I’m human, and I’m going to stay that way.
Jim Butcher, The Dresden Files: White Night.