Archive: Only at my homepage and ff.n, thanks.
Rating: NC-17 for violence and possible explicit sexual content
Warnings: It's Brimstone. It's not going to be pretty. Slashy themes and content.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. I make no money off
of this. The following is written purely for fun and not for profit.
Summary: Zeke gets in trouble, the devil does something unexpected, and much is revealed while a demon is pursued.
Feedback: Please? :-)
Notes: This story has been in the works for somewhere close to two years now. I have all intentions to finally finish it up in the very near future--if only to give myself some peace of mind and have it stop haunting me!
* * *
Ezekiel Stone was back in Hell.
Yet he was still on Earth...at least he thought
he was. He had a hard time remembering, or
thinking clearly beyond his pain. All he knew
anymore was pain--physical pain that had become
his world, worse than he had ever known.
It was his own fault, too, that much he
remembered. He hadn't listened to the warning
voice in his head that had told him something
was wrong, that he was in danger. Chasing a
demon through the dark, deserted back alleys of
downtown LA, he had become so focused on the hunt
that he hadn't noticed the others closing in on
him. He should have paid more attention--years as a
cop had taught him that his "bad feelings" and
hunches were rarely unfounded. But he'd been too
determined not to lose the demon he'd been
trailing for days to stop, not when he was so
close, so certain he had the bastard right where
he wanted him.
And he'd run right into a trap. Cornered the
demon in a dead-end alley, oblivious until it
was too late of the others there, waiting for
him. He had been the one cornered instead,
caught off-guard and out-numbered. He could
handle one of his own kind at a time, but he'd
stood no chance against five...five who had
known exactly who he was, and who wanted revenge.
His fault. He should have known better. The pain
he now suffered served as a brutal reminder of his
mistake, one he would never make again. He doubted he'd ever get the chance.
Voices, pieces of conversation drifted past his
ears, but he could barely focus enough to make
sense of what was being said. It was just random
noise grating on his frazzled nerves, until he
forced himself to try to listen, to not drift
"...had enough of this screwing around. We
should have some real fun with him. Cut him up
limb by limb, see how long he lasts, demon or
"How many times I gotta tell you, shithead! She
wanted him in one piece, not scattered all over
the place. Mess him up too bad, don't think she
won't mess you up worse. You want that?"
"No, course not. Just gettin' bored. He don't
scream any longer, and it's no goddamned fun if
he don't scream."
A fresh, tearing pain lanced through his thigh;
Zeke grimaced but the scream his tormentor
wanted wouldn't come. He just didn't have the
energy for it. He didn't open his eyes to see
what had been done to him now, what new object
one of his captors had decided to stab him with
this time. They'd started with knives, always
leaving them there, in his flesh, so the wounds
couldn't heal. Then one of them had found a
bucket of nails. Then they'd become more
creative, using whatever scraps of metal or wood
they found lying about in the abandoned warehouse
they'd claimed as their hideout--and Zeke's prison.
He'd long since stopped trying to fight his way
free. All he could do was try to find something
to hold onto in his mind, something to keep him
detached from the pain as his captors tormented
him, testing just how much damage his demon body
could take. Apparently their orders to keep him
in "one piece" didn't specify what condition
that piece was in.
"Just wish she'd get here already. Sick of
waitin' around here, even with him to play
Ezekiel was conscious enough to know who "she"
had to be.
From fragments of conversation, Ezekiel had determined that these five were her associates, fellow escapees from Hell whom she'd decided she could trust. These were the ones she intended to use in her plan for revenge against
God, Christianity...the entire world if she had her
way. Zeke knew little else about them, except for
the one he had been chasing until his capture. That one was a Nazi scientist who had conducted horrific experiments on concentration camp prisoners. From the things he had "tested" on Ezekiel, it was clear that the psychopath hadn't lost his interest in exploring the limits of human physical endurance.
One of the others was definitely very old, and very powerful. An ancient practitioner of the black arts, Zeke guessed. His touch burned like acid, strong
enough to melt away even demon flesh. The burns
healed, but each burn seemed to hurt worse than
the last, and take longer to go away. Zeke could
feel himself weakening with each passing second,
minute, hour, and he had to wonder how much more
abuse his body could actually take, demon or
not. There had to be a limit. At least, he hoped
there was. He didn't want to imagine the alternative.
The air was damp and cold against his bare skin,
his clothes long since ripped or burned away. He
shivered, sick at the thought that he would
actually embrace the warm of the fires of Hell
right now. He felt like such a fool, for not
taking Ash out when he'd had the chance months
before. Twice he'd let her go. He'd thought he
had time to deal with her, that she still believe she could turn him to her side. Maybe he'd even hoped,
stupidly, that he'd be able to turn her to his. Apparently he'd been wrong, and she'd decided the risk of leaving him free was too great, and had ordered her loyal
demons to stop him.
Ezekiel had lost any hope for escape. At least two of them always stood nearby, watching, ready to inflict some new pain on him--to twist deeper one of the blades stuck in his body, or to find something new to do to him.
Heavy steel manacles about his feet and upraised
wrists restrained him to the wall, though he had
long since lost any energy or ability to try to
free himself. His body ached too much, and he was
too tired. He only wanted it to be finished. If
he could, he'd take out his own eyes, claw them
out with his fingernails, anything to stop the
pain. Not even the devil's tortures had been
this cruel. In Hell, Zeke's suffering had mostly
been of his own making--a prison of haunting
memories, of Rosalyn's tears, his rage, his
inability to comfort her and make her pain go
away after her rape. He had been trapped in his
guilt and anger and despair, but had never
completely given up hope that someday he would
find a way to free himself from it all...not like he had given up hope now.
He thought of his master and nearly cried out
for the devil's mercy, but he knew that was a
laugh, a wasted effort. Satan was the last
being who would come to his rescue. No, the
devil would merely welcome him back to Hell with
a smirk and belittle him for failing in his job.
He'd just find another, someone better to do his dirty work.
/Ezekiel, can you hear me?/
Zeke was jarred from his drifting thoughts by a familiar voice. He struggled to open his
eyes and lift his head, but he couldn't see
anyone other than his captors. Was Lucifer here,
watching and enjoying his torture? Quite possibly, Ezekiel mused. Either that or Stone was
beginning to hallucinate. Not that it mattered, he
supposed. He dropped his head again, wincing as
the slight movement sent another wave of pain
through his abused body.
The voice returned, so close and clear it seemed
to be coming from inside his head. /Close your
eyes, Ezekiel, and no matter what you hear or
feel keep them closed. Are you listening? Do you understand?/
Eyes closed. Right. He could do that. There was
nothing he wanted to see in this miserable, cold
place, for there was nothing here but the demons who would only torture him more should he catch their
attention. He grunted in acknowledgement of the voice's instructions. Hallucination or not, he'd do as he was told.
Seconds barely passed before he heard a terrible
crackling sound, like lightning striking ground
within the room. A wave of heat stronger
than anything he'd felt since his return to
Earth seared his skin.
"What the--" he heard one of his captors start
to shout, but then the man was drowned out by
the shrieks and wailing sounds of his
companions, and the screeching, roaring wind that
grew up from out of nowhere. Ezekiel wondered
what could possibly be happening but he dared
not open his eyes to see, not as the screams
grew louder, as the hot air seemed to turn to
burning flames, licking his skin. The flames tried to get inside him, under his eyelids. They pulled at him, but he summoned the last reserves of his energy to keep his eyes closed, to do as the voice had told him. The screams of his captors began to dissolve away into the roaring wind, which gave one final plaintiff shriek and
Utter and complete silence.
The air grew still and quickly cooled. Zeke's
senses refocused and he picked up just one
sound, that of someone nearby, breathing hard.
Eventually even that sound softened, and a
familiar if strained voice told him, "You may
open your eyes now, Mr. Stone."
Cautiously, Ezekiel did as he was instructed. He
saw the devil, standing in the middle of the
room...and only him. The others were nowhere to be
"What...happened..." Zeke croaked out.
Immediately he wished he hadn't tried to speak
as the effort set off another wave of incapacitating pain.
The devil walked over to him. "We'll have time for
explanations later. Let me get you down first."
Lucifer held the keys to the manacles in his
hand, and he quickly went to work freeing Zeke's
hands and feet. The restraints had been the only
things holding him upright, and as soon as they
were removed the detective tumbled to the floor.
The fall twisted and drove the many blades and
shards in his body deeper and he cried out in renewed
agony, feeling as if he was being ripped apart
from the inside out.
"Shit," he heard the devil curse. "Should have taken care of the bastards' work first. Lie still, Ezekiel. Let
me do what I have to." The devil's voice
was oddly soothing, as he carefully guided Zeke
into a less painful position. Zeke blinked and
looked up into familiar gray eyes, which for
once looked upon him with what appeared to be
"Are you...who I think you are?" Zeke managed to
ask. This couldn't be the devil he knew, the one
who always seemed to delight in tormenting him.
Zeke wondered if instead this was the angel who
had come to help him once, or another one of his
"Don't talk, Ezekiel. Just let me get this over
Zeke's questions dissolved quickly under the
renewed pain as the devil--or whoever it was--
began tending to his injuries. Some of the
implements imbedded in his flesh hurt a lot more
coming out than he remembered them hurting going
in. By the time the last blade was removed, Zeke
was reduced to pleading for the pain to stop,
his eyes damp and stinging from sulphurous tears
he couldn't control. Too much pain, too much torture
these past days, weeks, however long it had been.. "No more, please..." he was whimpering, hurting too much to feel humiliated by his begging.
"No more, Ezekiel. It's over..." Lucifer
Zeke shivered. The floor was ice cold against
his bare skin. "Cold..."
"Here." The devil shrugged off his long coat
and, as carefully as he could, shifted Ezekiel
around and helped him get into the garment. Zeke
collapsed against his savior, too tired from the
small movement to sit upright on his own.
"Feel so weak...still hurts."
"You'll get your strength back. You just need
some time to heal." A warm hand soothed his
brow, brushed through his damp hair gently.
"It's over now, Ezekiel. All over."
Zeke wanted again to ask the devil what
had happened, why he had saved him, why he was
being so kind. But he was too tired now to
speak. He felt warm in the coat, lying against
Lucifer's body, warm and safe. His questions
remained for the moment unanswered, as he felt
himself losing consciousness, slipping away into
the blissful darkness of much needed sleep.
* * *
Ezekiel awoke slowly, unwilling--as he often
was--to let go of the pleasant state of
unconsciousness and face the world outside. He
blinked and flinched against the bright light
that assaulted his eyes, pulling the covers over
his head to block out the sun's rays for just a
few more minutes. He stretched and winced as his
body protested against the movement.
God, he felt terrible, sore all over. Groaning,
he wondered what he possibly could have done the
day before to feel so lousy, especially
considering his normally resilient nature. Soon
enough he remembered--and shuddered at the memories
of days of imprisonment and torture as they came
back to him. He wished he could dismiss it all
as a nightmare, but he knew it had all been real and
that his body was still healing from the abuse it had
Zeke remembered the devil, too, saving him from
the demons, freeing him...and apparently getting
him to his room at the hotel. He pulled back the
covers, sleepiness fading away quickly as he
tried to puzzle out how exactly he had gotten
"It's about time."
Zeke glanced across the room and found the devil
sitting in the chair, near the window. "You
sleep like the dead, Detective," he added, lips
quirking into a lopsided smile.
"Maybe that's because I am dead." Ezekiel sat
up and rubbed his face with his hands, trying to
clear away the last traces of his grogginess and
work some life back into his aching limbs.
"How'd I get back here...?" he wondered, his
memories ending with his passing out not long
after the devil had arrived to rescue him.
"With no little help from me. One of your
charming hosts was kind enough to leave a stolen
car behind. I drove you here, seeing how you
certainly were in no shape to do it yourself. I
doubted you would be happy to awaken back where
I found you."
"Guess not." Zeke paused. He then noticed, much to
his surprise, that he was fully dressed--back in
his old worn-out clothes he thought had been
destroyed during his imprisonment. For once he
was thankful for the strange magic of his demon
incarnation. Meeting every day with only thirty-
six dollars in his pocket was a drag, but always
having his old clothes to wear certainly had its
advantages. Even his gun was there, waiting for
him on the nightstand next to his bed.
Everything was...back to normal. As normal as
anything in his "life" was, at least.
Zeke pushed aside his dislike for the devil for a
moment, and forced himself to utter two words he
never thought he'd be saying to him: "Thank
Ezekiel wondered what the devil's
help was going to end up costing him. There had
to be a catch. He took a better look at his
inhuman visitor, and noticed that something
seemed...wrong...about his appearance. His suit
was wrinkled and dirty, and his shoulder-length
hair was a mess. It was a far cry from
his normal dapper, impeccable appearance, almost
as if he'd been sitting in that chair all night,
since dragging Ezekiel back here. But that
didn't make any sense...of course, neither did
the devil helping him out of a near second-death
Zeke asked the question he had wanted to ask before. "Why did you do it?"
"I've been asking myself that same question all
night. And I have decided it is because I am an
utter fool, and there is no explanation beyond
that." Lucifer paused, turning his gaze toward
the open window before continuing, "I could have
left you there, and they would have continued
playing with you, destroying you bit by bit
before eventually sending me what was left of your soul. Or leaving that for Ash to do herself, if she
couldn't turn you to her side. Either way, I
would have had to find someone else to finish
"I could have done that. I should have,
and yet, I didn't. Instead I broke the rules to
save your sorry ass, so you'd better damn well
be thankful about it."
Ezekiel got up from bed and walked over to the
devil, finding his legs still shaky but strong enough to
support his weight. Something was definitely
wrong. Something didn't feel right about any of
this. "You broke the rules...?"
"I used my powers to send those five back to Hell myself," Lucifer clarified.
Zeke frowned, growing more confused. "I thought
you couldn't use your powers on Earth, that it wasn't possible. That's why you needed me."
"Oh, it's possible. Just against the rules,"
the devil corrected. "A violation of the natural order of
things, something that takes a tremendous effort
to accomplish and then...requires that a
suitable price be paid to restore balance."
Lucifer paused, his eyes focused squarely on Ezekiel's now. And then the detective understood--he saw
it clearly, as impossible as it was to believe.
He had always been able to sense when the devil
was nearby, for his aura of energy was completely
unique and unmistakable to anyone who'd spent
any time in Hell. But now, that aura was...
Gone. Completely. And Ezekiel could come up with
only one explanation.
Lucifer smiled, thinly. "So it appears."
"For how long?"
The devil shook his head and laughed--though it
was far from his usual cocky, irritating
laughter. Now it had a distinctly nervous edge
to it. "I have no idea. For all I know it could
be a permanent affliction, punishment for my
terribly egregious actions. This isn't exactly
something I've done before, Ezekiel, nor
something I ever had any desire to do. I can't
say I'm the least bit pleased with the
Zeke couldn't say he was either. He wasn't sure
what he was supposed to do with a suddenly
mortal devil, sitting in his hotel room and
looking...well, rather disoriented, maybe even a
touch desperate, and clearly exhausted. Dark
circles shadowed Lucifer's normally bright eyes,
which were now bloodshot and seeming to have
serious difficulty staying open.
Not knowing what else to say--not really
ready to deal with this situation yet, to be
honest, Zeke suggested, "Maybe you should, uh,
try to get some sleep. You look like you could
"Sleep," Lucifer repeated, pausing to
contemplate the suggestion. "Yes, I suppose
sleep might be in order. That is what mortals
need in order to function, isn't it..." he
trailed off, sinking back into the chair with a
"You...could try the bed. It's a lot more
comfortable than that chair," Zeke offered, not
believing he was inviting the devil to crash out
in his room. In his bed!
Lucifer eyed the bed and answered, "You're
probably right." He looked back at the detective. "I do appreciate the...hospitality, Ezekiel."
Zeke shrugged. "Yeah, well, I don't suppose you
have anywhere else to go..." With that he turned
away and walked over to the bathroom to brush
his teeth, wash his face, and steal a few
minutes of privacy to try to get his bearings
"This can't be happening," he said to himself,
closing the door and leaning against it with a
sigh. The devil was suddenly stuck in a mortal
body, crashing out in his apartment...and
five of Ash's "associates" had just
been dispatched. Once she found her friends
gone, it wouldn't take her long to guess that Zeke had
to be responsible, not if she had been the one to instruct them to capture him in the first place.
And lest he forget, she knew where he lived.
Zeke went to the sink and ran the water. He
waited for it to grow warm before splashing it
over his face. He looked at himself as the water
trickled down his cheeks, and frowned. He didn't
look much better than his companion in the other room. He wanted a few days to relax and rest up, to get
himself back in full working order again. But
unless he wanted to risk facing Ash right now,
he knew what he really should do was leave. Get
out of Los Angeles, even, to be on the safe side. It
was something he knew he'd have to do soon
anyway. There were still more than seventy other
demons on his "list", and they weren't all going to be
hiding out in L.A. Zeke had filed aside news
clippings about crimes all across the country that
he suspected might be related to his quarry, but
until now the devil had usually lead him from
one demon to the next with his cryptic clues. As
long as the devil was mortal, though, Zeke
suspected he was going to have to rely more on
his own instincts to get his job done...
For a moment, a darker thought crossed his mind.
If the devil was mortal and had no power over
him any longer, why should he bother still doing
his dirty work? There was no one to stop him
from joining the other "rogues" out there. No
one, even, who would stop him if he just walked
into the other room, put his gun to the devil's
Zeke shook himself out of that line of thought
as fast as it had come over him, and he felt a little sick inside that he'd contemplated the idea even for a second. He would not give in to the dark urges that sometimes crept into his mind--the sickening residue of fifteen years in Hell, surrounded by hateful and angry souls all
trying to will him to submit, break, admit he
was one of them. He wasn't. He'd only made one
mistake, and he'd keep doing what he'd been sent
back to Earth to do in order to redeem himself.
Besides, Zeke thought to himself, if the devil's
mortality was only temporary, he'd probably do
best not to piss his boss off right now. He'd
surely end up having to pay for it later.
Zeke brushed his teeth, then fixed
his hair and made himself remotely presentable
to the outside world. He left the bathroom and
checked on how his guest was doing. Lucifer had
taken his advice and was sprawled out on the
bed--fast asleep and snoring lightly, no less.
Zeke figured he'd be out of it for at least a
few hours, which gave him some time. He left a
note saying he'd be back soon, grabbed his
beaten-up coat and headed outside to take care
of a few things.
After he left the hotel, Zeke first stopped at
his favorite nearby diner. He thought one of his
obscenely greasy breakfast feasts would put him
in a better mood, yet he found himself pushing a
half-eaten omelet distractedly around his plate,
for once unable to work up his usual appetite.
He simply had too much on his mind to
concentrate on the food, and it failed to
provide him with any kind of comfort.
He didn't like the idea of having to leave Los
Angeles, even if he was fairly certain it was
necessary. He'd sworn to the devil he'd get Ash
"next time", but he wasn't quite ready for that
next time just yet. As much as he tried to put
what had happened to him out of his mind, it was
leaving him queasy, and shaking. He couldn't
afford the shakes--not when dealing with any of
Hell's escapees, and especially not with Ash.
But he had friends here in L.A., people who he could
talk to and trust, who he hated to leave behind:
Max, Farther Horn...
Rosalyn was here, too. He certainly never forgot
that. He kept his distance from her these days,
not wanting to put her in danger or risk her
finding out about him. Still, simply knowing she
wasn't far away was something that helped him
get through each day.
Nevertheless, what had to be done, had to be
done. He'd known he'd have to get out on the
road to hunt the remaining demons some time;
recent events were merely making that more of an
immediate necessity. Particularly with
Lucifer stuck in a mortal body--if Ash were to
find the devil in this state, the detective
doubted she would offer him anything close to
Stone rested his chin on his hands and frowned.
Why had the devil saved him in the first place?
That still made no sense to him. His mind kept
coming back to that one question, to which he
hadn't really received a satisfactory answer.
The devil had never done anything to help Zeke
out of a tight spot before--why had he done it
this time, if he'd known he'd face some form
of retribution for his actions?
"He did it because he loves you, Ezekiel.
Haven't you figured that out yet?"
Zeke blinked in surprise, both at the words he'd
heard and at the man who had appeared out of
nowhere to sit down across from him. Dressed in
paint-stained white jeans and sweater, a
handkerchief tied around his neck, the angel was
unmistakable thanks to his attire and all-too-
familiar visage. Zeke found it extremely
disconcerting to see a gentle smile on that
face, one that looked exactly like the devil's.
It seemed...wholly unnatural and just plain
"What did you say?" Zeke asked, wanting to be
certain he'd heard his companion's words
"He loves you," the angel repeated. "That's why
he saved you. He felt your suffering and anguish
and he couldn't let it continue, no matter what
Zeke shook his head and started laughing.
"That's crazy. He gets his kicks from suffering
and anguish...why should it ever bother him?" He
kept laughing as he thought about the
possibility, and it struck him as nothing less
than absurd. "No, I don't believe you."
"You have to believe me!" the angel insisted.
"He's my brother. I know him. He tries to act as
if he has no heart, Ezekiel, no ability to love,
but that's not true. What other motive could
there be for throwing away everything he had
to stop your pain and save you, except for
Zeke pondered that question for a minute as the
waitress came over to refill his coffee and ask
the angel what he wanted. "The Healthy Heart Special, please," he ordered with
a pleasant smile.
The curly-haired Hispanic woman returned his
smile and said, "Now that's something Zeke here
never orders...about the only thing on the menu
he avoids like the plague."
"My heart's the least of my worries," Zeke
answered her, before she shrugged and walked off
to the kitchen.
The former detective had to admit to himself
that the angel's argument made some sense, if
only because he couldn't think of a better
explanation for what had happened. That didn't
mean he believed it yet. "So, he loves me--if
what you're saying is true. What I want to know
is, how long is he going to be like this?"
"I can't say. Not that I can't say because I'm
not allowed to...I can't say because I don't
know. Honestly. I'm not one of the main guys--
the arch-angles, you know--they're the only ones
privileged to all that information," the angel
told him with an apologetic look. "I could try
to ask around but I don't know if they'd tell
"Bureaucracy, even in Heaven?" Zeke asked.
"Oh, please!" The angel rolled his eyes, gave
him a look of long-suffering. "The 'Big Wings'--
that's what we call them--they can have such an
attitude sometimes! The stories I could tell
you, Ezekiel... Almost enough to make one of us
lowly old guardian angels feel like switching
teams, every now and then," he finished in a
Zeke sat back and studied his companion. "Guardian
angel. So, are you, like, my guardian angel?"
"You haven't figured that out until now?"
The detective shrugged. "You gotta admit, you
didn't do a very good job of guarding me if I
ended up in Hell." He immediately regretted his
crack as he saw his companion's suddenly
crestfallen expression. "Sorry."
"No, no, that's quite all right, Ezekiel. We
try, you know, but we can't save everyone. And
mortals have to be willing to listen, before
they can hear us and let us help. That doesn't
make it any easier when we lose someone,
especially such a close call like you. That's
why it's so important to me that you don't fail,
now that you've got a second chance. We
both have a second chance!" he enthused.
"The stakes are a little higher for me, though,
aren't they?" Zeke observed.
The angel had no immediate answer beyond a
sympathetic look. They fell silent until the
waitress came back, bringing the angel his
breakfast: low-fat yogurt and fruit salad, and a
glass of orange juice. While he dove into his
meal enthusiastically, Zeke sat thinking, still
trying to wrap his brain around the concept that
the devil loved him. "So you don't have any idea
how long he's going to be stuck on Earth...a
day, a month...forever?" Zeke tried asking
again, even though it seemed as if his companion
was not going to be able to answer him.
The angel shook his head, swallowed a spoonful
of yogurt and said, "No, I'm sorry, I really
don't. All I can say is we're never supposed
to directly interfere with events taking place
on Earth. It's the same rules whether it's just
a guardian angel like myself, or someone like,
"Has it happened before? It must have, right?"
"Yes, but the punishment is always different.
Determined by, you know..." The angel glanced
upward. "I just don't know how He's going to
judge this one."
Zeke sighed and, giving up on that line of
questioning, moved on to more practical matters.
"So what am I supposed to do with him? With this
"Well, for starters, I might suggest you
consider a change of address. Those five were
"Ash, I know. I figured out that much. I think
I'm getting a little too well-known in this area
anyway. And I don't exactly feel up to dealing
with her face-to-face again right now."
The angel nodded. "Wait until you're stronger.
It would do you good to lay low for a while,
find somewhere safer...particularly with my
brother to protect."
Zeke raised an eyebrow at his companion. He'd
rather suspected this was coming, but he still
didn't like the idea. "So that's now officially
part of my job description? To be the devil's
"He needs someone right now, and you're the only
one for the job, I'm afraid." The angel placed a
hand lightly on Stone's arm, and fixed him with
gently pleading eyes. "Fallen or not, he is my
brother, Ezekiel. Look after him as a favor for
me, if for no other reason. He doesn't even have
your strength now, and if the escaped demons
were to find him..."
"I get the idea..." Zeke cut him off. He hated
this. He really hated this, but what was he
going to say? "All right. I'll look after him--
if he lets me."
"Believe me, he wants your help--he just doesn't
know how to ask for it. Yet." The angel smiled at
him, pulled his hand away after a light squeeze.
Zeke looked away as he reached for his cup of
lukewarm coffee and by the time he turned back,
his visitor was gone.
Zeke shook his head. Every time he thought he'd
heard it all today, something new was dropped in
his lap. The devil was mortal. The devil loved
him. The devil needed his protection. That, and
he still had seventy-eight demons to catch and
send back to Hell...and speaking of Hell, who
was running things there with the Prince of
Darkness missing? Someone better be watching the
gates, Zeke thought to himself, otherwise there
could be a whole new flood of demons breaking
free and running amok on Earth.
No, this was not good. Not good at all.
* * *
Zeke spent some time shopping after giving up on
breakfast. He hit the stores to see what
groceries and supplies he could get, mostly for
his "guest", on the twenty-five dollars he had
left for the day. Unlike Zeke, the mortal devil
probably would need a fresh change of clothes or
two. The former detective hoped Lucifer wouldn't
mind having to make do with a selection of
attire from the Salvation Army.
Max was on shift at the desk when he got back to
the hotel late that afternoon. Her eyes went
wide with surprise and she saw him enter.
"Stone!" she shouted. "You're on your feet?! I'm
"Hi, Max," he greeted her nonchalantly as she
rushed over to him.
"Don't you just 'Hi Max' me! What happened to
you? You go missin' for days, and then end up
gettin' dragged back here by that friend of
yours, lookin' way messed up and knocked out
cold. I was gonna call for an ambulance..." she
paused and frowned. "Somehow he convinced me not
to. But still, damn, you gave me a scare!"
"Well, as you can see I'm fine now."
"'You're fine.' You ain't fine, Stone. No one
has weirder shit happen to him than you." Her
expression changed and with a grin she added,
"But that's okay, you keep life interestin'
around here. I don't know what we'd do for
entertainment without you."
"Yeah, ah, about that..." Zeke began, putting
his shopping bags down on the front desk for a
moment. "I'm sorry, Max, but I'm moving out.
Probably by tonight."
"What?!" Max's grin disappeared quickly. "You're
"I have to. I need to take care of some business
out of town. I'm not sure how long it's going to
"You're in some kind of serious trouble, aren't
you?" she asked, looking genuinely worried now.
Zeke put a hand on her shoulder, trying to
reassure her. "Nothing I can't handle," he said,
hoping that was really the case.
"Dammit, Stone, this sucks. I'm gonna miss you."
She grabbed him for hug that would have knocked
the wind out of him, if that had been possible.
"I'll miss you, too, Max. But I'll be back
sometime," he promised, and he meant it. As long
as Rosalyn was still in Los Angeles, he'd be
back. However long it would take, he'd come back
As long as one of the other demons didn't send him
back to Hell first.
Zeke unlocked and opened the door to his room,
trying to be quiet as he did so in case his
guest hadn't woken up yet. A quick glance
toward the bed confirmed Lucifer was still
there, and still asleep.
The sight was enough to give Ezekiel a bad case
of the creeps. "Too damn weird," he
muttered to himself. That wasn't just anyone
sleeping in his bed--that was the devil.
Except the devil wasn't really "the devil" any
longer, was he? He was nothing more than
another mortal human being...
And all because he loves me? Zeke thought,
frowning as he tried to give the rather
unbelievable idea more consideration.
He put down his bag of food, walked toward the
bed and looked over the sleeping man more
closely. With his thin build and drawn
features, Lucifer didn't look very intimidating--at
least not now while he lay asleep, stripped of
his inhuman powers. It had to be pretty
traumatic, Zeke supposed, to go from being one
of the most powerful entities in all of
Creation to just another human mortal. For a
moment Zeke actually felt sorry for
the devil--but then he vividly remembered the
sneering delight Lucifer took in others'
suffering and his sympathy evaporated quickly.
Maybe a little dose of mortality might do the
devil some good, give him a different
perspective on the souls he played with as if
they were nothing more than his toys.
Stone remembered, not that long ago, accusing
Lucifer of having loved Ash. The devil had
denied it, but only after a too-long pause that
had left Zeke wondering if maybe he hadn't been
on target with his suspicions. If so, that
meant the devil did know how to feel love...
Still, Zeke wasn't sure he liked the idea of
being the object of Satan's affection. Besides
giving the detective a bad case of the creeps,
that would just add a whole new layer of
complication to his life--or death, to be more
accurate--that he really didn't need right now.
Zeke walked back to the kitchen to sort through
the groceries and other items he'd bought
during his shopping excursion. He opened the
refrigerator to grab a beer for himself, then
closed the door, apparently a little too
loudly. He heard a gasp and turned to see the
devil wide awake, sitting up on bed and looking
"Didn't mean to startle you," Zeke apologized.
"What? Oh... No, I'm glad you did. That was
entirely too unsettling," the devil remarked,
running a hand through his hair to get it out
of his face.
"Sleeping. I've never done that before. I don't
like it, being completely oblivious to what
could be going on all around you."
"You'll get used to it." Beer in hand, Zeke
brought over the food he'd bought for his
guest--a Whopper and large fries. "I thought
you might be hungry."
Lucifer took the bag and eyed the contents
warily. "I suppose I am. You know, it's curious,
how these unpleasant physical conditions are so
different when experienced firsthand--
exhaustion, for one. Hunger. Thirst." He paused
and frowned. "The most pressing need
"That way." Zeke pointed toward the bathroom.
The detective sat down in the chair by the
window and waited while the devil...relieved
himself in the small bathroom. Lucifer
reappeared several minutes later with a
thoroughly disgusted look on his face. He
looked at his food and mused, "I'm don't think
I'm hungry any longer."
Zeke had to suppress a grin. "You know," he
observed, "maybe this is something that should
have happened to you a long time ago--get a
taste of what life's like for us 'mere
mortals'. Might be just the thing to humble
that big fat ego of yours."
"Spare me your amateur psychological analysis,
Mr. Stone. I'm not in the mood for it." The
devil eyed the bag of food again. Soon enough
hunger won out over disgust, and he started in
on the greasy fries.
After giving him a few minutes' peace to eat,
Zeke began casually, "I ran into one of your brothers
down at the coffeeshop." At Lucifer's raised
eyebrows he elaborated, "You know, looks like
you, except he dresses in white and is actually
nice to me..."
"Yes, yes, I know who you mean. What did he
have to say?"
Zeke wasn't ready to talk about everything
the angel had said yet, so he skipped ahead to
the most immediately important point of
discussion. "He said Los Angeles might not be
the best place for either of us right now.
Which is the same thing I've been thinking
since this morning." Zeke paused to take a sip
of his beer. "Those five who had me were
working with Ash, and I don't want to be around
when she finds they've been summarily
dispatched back to Hell. Especially when I'm
stuck with you here to keep an eye on."
"I think I can take care of myself, thank you,"
the devil remarked sharply.
"Can you?" Zeke countered. "Then why are you
hanging around here? I think it's because you
don't know a damn thing about surviving without
your powers, and you know you need me to
"Couldn't it be that I simply delight in your
"I don't know, could it?"
Lucifer seemed momentarily flustered by Stone's
question, but then he shrugged it off. "All
right. I...suppose I could use your help,
Ezekiel," he admitted, not looking happy at all
to have to say as much.
"Isn't that always the case..." Zeke muttered.
Under the devil's glare he fell silent. Lucifer
continued, "This mortality business is rather
confusing, and I could use the assistance of
someone with more experience in the matter."
"Considering you got yourself in this situation
because of me, I suppose I owe you that much."
"Yes, you do. And more, but we can account for
that later. And believe me, we will." The devil
scrunched up the paper bag with the remnants of
his meal and tossed it toward the trashcan. He
missed. With a frown, he said, "A relocation,
did you suggest?" Zeke nodded. "Indeed. I think
that might not be the worst idea..."
* * *
Several hours stuck on the highway with the
devil as his only companion, and Ezekiel
beginning to wonder if being sent back to Hell
wouldn't have been better than his current
fate. A few minutes of Satan's "company" every
two or three days had always been more than
sufficient. If the devil loved him, he
certainly had an incredibly annoying way of
"It must be difficult for you to leave Los
Angeles, Ezekiel, after traveling all the way
across the country just to be near your widow,
"It's what I have to do."
"Yes. But it isn't easy, is it? Leaving behind
the woman you love like that..." The devil
sighed wistfully. "Perhaps it's for the best--
after all, she finally seemed to be getting
over you. Fifteen years...I should think it's
about time for her to start dating again, don't
you, detective? Way past time, if you ask
"Though hopefully next time she'll have better
taste than to pick a shape-shifting pagan
priestess for a boyfriend..."
"Can we not talk about Rosalyn?"
"I'm merely making conversation."
"I'd prefer it if you didn't," Zeke said.
"Well pardon me for trying to be sociable."
"Your idea of being sociable seems to consist
of nothing but finding ways to irritate me."
"Force of habit. So what would like to talk
about then, Ezekiel? I'm open to suggestions."
Zeke gritted his teeth. He had no desire to
talk about anything with the devil, quite
honestly. He settled on a matter of practical
interest. "Okay, how about we discuss how I'm
going to cover both of our living expenses on
thirty-six dollars and twenty-seven cents a
day? It's been hard enough taking care of
myself on that kind of budget."
"It's not as if you actually have living
expenses. You're dead, remember? I'm the
only one of us who is living."
"Don't temp me to even the score," Zeke
threatened. "Living or not, we'll need to find
somewhere to stay, and that takes money."
"You're resourceful. I'm sure you'll figure out
"You could always get a job, that would bring
in some more money."
"Excuse me?!" the devil choked.
Ezekiel shrugged. "If I'm going to be stuck
with you hanging around, you might as well make
Zeke glanced over at the devil and caught him
scowling in disgust. "A job. I don't think
so. I'm suffering enough indignity as it is
"Not my fault," Zeke reminded him. "You're the
one who decided to do something nice for me,
"And yes, look where it got me. Don't think
I'll be making that mistake again."
With that Lucifer settled in to a sulky
silence, much to Ezekiel's relief. It had been
a while since he'd been behind the wheel of a
car and navigating the California highways with
the devil irritating him all the way was not
turning into a fun experience.
They were headed north to San Francisco, in the
car Lucifer had "acquired" the night he'd
rescued Zeke from the five demons. The
detective had chosen that city based on recent
news reports of several gruesome murders, all
of priests in the Bay Area. Something about the
crimes had set him off, led him to think one of
his remaining quarry was likely responsible.
When he'd suggested as much to the devil, he'd
gotten no clear confirmation of his suspicions-
-but no denial of them either. It was as good a
lead as any he had at the moment, and it would
take him far enough away from LA to hopefully
keep Ash out of his hair.
Zeke had thought he should tell Father Horn
where he was headed, though he also feared
bringing the man too deep into his business.
The blind priest had already helped Zeke out of
a few tight spots; Zeke didn't want to risk
Horn's life by leaving too much of a trail to
connect them. But he'd miss having someone to
confide in, someone who knew who he was and why
he was here. When he got settled in somewhere,
Zeke decided, he'd give the priest a call, let
him know he was all right. Whether he'd tell
the priest he'd suddenly become the devil's
guardian on Earth...well, perhaps that was one
detail he'd leave out for now.
After close to an hour of blissful silence,
Lucifer felt the need to announce, "I'm not
enjoying this at all, you know."
"Being mortal, of course. Less than a day and
I'm sick of it."
Less than a day and I'm sick of you, Zeke
thought, but he bit his tongue before letting
the words slip out.
"I don't suppose my dear brother had anything
to say about how long I'm going to be stuck
"He said he didn't have a clue."
"He never did, that idiot." The devil sighed,
and fell silent for a while again. "It's all so
very...quiet. Isolated. Not knowing what you're
thinking...what anyone is thinking...it's
"Maybe to you, but I'm rather happy to keep my
thoughts to myself."
"Of course you are. No one likes the idea of
having their deepest, darkest secrets
exposed...but that's what makes it so much fun!
The key to temptation lies in offering someone
what they never thought they could have, what
they'd never dream of asking for...like you,
thinking you could have your life back with
Rosalyn again. Look at where it's lead you."
"You really are sick."
"Why thank you, Ezekiel. I try, you know."
Zeke shook his head. The devil's constant
company was definitely a new form of torment he
did not need. He turned on the radio and
hoped his companion would take the hint and
just shut up for the rest of the drive. Zeke
found a classic rock station and turned up the
volume as one of his favorite Pink Floyd songs
came on. As he listened, he found the lyrics
taking on a whole new meaning to him since the
last time he'd heard the tune, over fifteen
So...so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell
Blue skies from pain
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail
A smile from a veil
Do you think you can tell?
Ros had always liked this song, too, he
remembered...she'd never quite managed to get
into the old blues he'd had liked so much, but
Floyd was one band she'd loved almost as much
as he did. He wondered if she still ever
listened to their old records, thought of him
the way this song made him think of her...
How I wish
How I wish you were here
We're just two lost souls
Swimmin' in a fishbowl
Year after year
Running over the same old ground
What have we found?
The same old fears...
Wish you were here.
"Do you have to listen to this noise?" the
devil groused, pulling Zeke out of his
"Just shut up or I'm gonna put the radio on a
Christian music station instead," Zeke growled
Lucifer fell silent and didn't say another word
for the rest of the trip.
Go on to Part 4...