They made their way to the church swiftly, looking intently at the burned out building as they turned the corner. The police tape around the site had not been disturbed.
"Such destruction" Ezekiel said, shaking his head sadly.
"Why would a person destroy something like this?" Blair asked.
"Not a person," Ezekiel said softly, "a demon."
The other two men stared at him before Blair's eyes narrowed slightly. "You're serious?" he asked stiffening as Ezekiel nodded.
"That's what you meant when you said Lash was a demon," Jim said. "You meant he was literally a demon?"
"Unfortunately yes. I didn't know who he was exactly but he's the reason I came to Cascade." Ezekiel answered.
"And the other person? Ash?" Jim asked.
"Another demon, powerful and tricky." Ezekiel's wave encompassed the burned out church, "I can see her attacking places of worship, but she would have no reason to be out here. And the yellow cloth left behind. It's not her style."
"What about...what's your role? Why are _you_ chasing after them?" Blair asked.
The soft laughter seemed at odds with the sad look on his face as Ezekiel answered, "I ask myself that at least once a day." He shook his head. No way could he tell these men the truth, that technically he himself was a demon. They were good men but he wasn't sure he wanted to test their understanding that far.
Ezekiel looked at the two men intently for a moment. "You don't have to...I've handled demons before on my own..."
Jim shook his head, interrupting the other man. "It sounds crazy. I'm still not sure I believe it, but it's my job to keep the city safe and that means against any force natural or unnatural." He said quietly.
Ezekiel looked to Blair and at the other man's nod, he smiled. "Thank you." He said as Jim pulled the truck over and they exited in front of the church.
Ezekiel entered the church, so much like the first church Devil had pointed him to. He couldn't figure it out. From what Jim and Blair had said this was not at all Lash's style. He obsessed over people not places of worship.
He felt more than heard Detective Ellison step into the room behind him. He stepped to the side to allow Ellison an unobstructed view of the room. What was left of it. The room they were in was a charred out husk of a room. Slashes of light came in through the ceiling where portions of the roof had caved in. They walked forward slowly careful to watch where they were stepping.
Ezekiel looked around, hoping against hope that there would be some sort of clue still remaining. The police had already been here and made their way through the crime scene in addition to curious onlookers trampling their way through. By the time Jim and Blair had been made aware of the case, the crime scene was already days old.
Jim stepped forward and moved around Ezekiel, gun raised.
"Do you hear something?" Ezekiel asked glancing at Jim.
"No this place just gives me the creeps," Jim answered distractedly as he visually surveyed the room. He sniffed in the air, frowning as all the different smells in the church assailed his nostrils.
Blair stepped forward from where he stood at the entrance and walked over; making sure to only step in the same path the two detectives had taken. When he reached Jim he placed his hand on the small of Jim's back as he looked up into his partner's face.
"Separate the scents, Big Guy," Bla8ir said softly. "Go for something unusual, not the accelerant scent." Blair said, reminding him that they already knew the accelerant used at this scene.
Jim nodded, and straightened wrinkling his nose. "There is that scent again." He said, "like a corpse"
"Lash" Ezekiel whispered.
"We have to make sure," Blair said in a strained voice.
Jim nodded and stepped away, instantly feeling a loss at the removal of the warmth of Blair's hand at his back.
They moved forward as a group and stepped around some broken up pews strewn about the floor.
"Right there" Jim pointed to a small swath of yellow cloth just visible beneath one of the pews. Jim picked the cloth up holding it to his nose. He nodded, the cloth was where the scent was emanating from.
Blair shook his head. "Theres no way the uniforms missed this."
Ezekiel nodded, "I agree. Which means Lash or someone else is coming in after the evidence team and depositing the cloth."
"He's taunting us," Jim said, his jaw clenching at the thought.
"But what is the motive? If its Lash I understand his fixation on the both of you. But when I discovered the first site, I wasn't even with you guys. Lash meant nothing to me. I hadn't even heard his name." Ezekiel pointed out.
"Then there is some other connection," Blair said.
"I don't know...How did you guys find out about this church anyway?"
"One of the uniforms told me about it and I told Jim"
"How did the conversation come up?" Jim asked.
Blair paused for a moment, eyes wide when he answered. "There was no conversation. The guy just came up to me and gave me the information. How did he know I would be interested?"
"Hmmm. Okay lemme grab the scarf and we'll go talk to the officer and see what he knows" Jim said, putting the scarf inside of a clean sandwich bag and exiting the church with his companions.
A half-hour later found them standing in forensics shaking their heads over what they heard. Yet another piece of evidence which for all intents and purposes seemed to have come from a corpse. Even stranger was that there was no trace of the officer who had given Blair the information, nor had his description sounded familiar to anyone.
"We're still no closer to catching whoever did this" Blair said as they exited the room. He felt his hands trembling and he stuck his hands in his pocket hoping his Sentinel had not noticed.
"Stone. Why don't you go on up. We'll catch up to you" Jim said to the other detective.
Ezekiel glanced at Blair briefly and nodded making his way towards the elevator.
Jim led Blair to a nearby room, closing the door after making sure there was no one there. It was only then that he turned to his partner.
"What's up Chief?" he asked the other man softly. "Tell me" he insisted when the other man merely shook his head.
"It's just....why Lash, of all the people..." Blair's voice faded as he turned away.
Jim regarded his partner, taking in the small tremors invisible to normal sight. He would do anything to take away the fear that emanated from his partner. He couldn't do that but he could protect this man as best he could.
His arms were around his partner's waist before he even thought of doing so.
"I love you" Jim said, his own fear in finally acknowledging his feelings overridden by his need to reassure his partner. "I won't let anything hurt you," he promised.
Blair nodded and took a deep breath before turning in his Sentinel's embrace. He stared up at his partner for a moment, reading his expression before stretching up to place a tentative kiss on his lips. "I love you too...thank you" he said softly. His arms came up to encircle Jim's waist and he leaned into the embrace, the one place where he knew he was safe.
Ezekiel sat at Ellison's desk waiting for the other two men.
"Is this delivery for you?" Ezekiel flinched back into the seat as a rose was thrust right under his nose. He looked up to decline, scowling a he saw who held the rose.
"Come now Stone, is that any way to act when someone offers you a rose?" Devil asked.
Ezekiel looked up amazed at the almost hurt look on the other man's face.
"It was a stupid idea anyway." Devil mumbled to himself making the rose disappear, further adding to Ezekiel's amazement.
"I'll just come right out and say it, Detective. I want you."
"You want me to what?" Ezekiel asked.
Devil said nothing. He let his gaze speak for him. And it spoke volumes. He let his gaze travel over Ezekiel's body, the look in eyes so intense that by the time his perusal was over Ezekiel was squirming in the seat.
He leaned in towards the other man smirking as Ezekiel first leaned in before catching himself and sitting back in the seat. "You want me too, though you deny it to yourself. I'll wait," he said, in what sounded more threat like a threat than a promise.
Ezekiel watched as he walked away, his mind a blank. He looked down at the table, seeing one rose petal that had remained.
It was when he felt himself smiling at the sight that he realized he was in trouble.
"Yes?" Ezekiel asked looking up from the petal.
"There's a call for you" the man said, handing him the slip of paper.
Ezekiel frowned, thanking the other man absently. Who would be calling him? No one knew him here.
He picked up the phone and froze at the soft laughter coming over the line.
"Hi Zeke, ya miss me?" the voice whispered.
"Ah such venom in your voice for an old friend"
"What do you want, Ash?" Ezekiel asked through clenched teeth. That she would refer to them as friends disgusted him. He had found himself falling in love with her until she had tried to kill him when she discovered what his mission was.
"Just wanted to know how you liked my present?"
"What present?" Ezekiel asked suspiciously.
"My protégé of course. Lash. Did you really think he was acting on his own?" Ash asked, laughter in her voice. "He had potential when he came down to Hell but...he was insane it was easy enough to get him to do what I wanted."
"You used him just like you use everyone else" Ezekiel said in realization.
"Yes he's been useful but I don't need him anymore. Besides, this ridiculous habit of leaving a yellow scarf behind...he's at the church on Front and Water Street, if you want him."
"After I send him back I'm coming for you," he promised.
The bark of laughter from the other side set his teeth on edge. "Oh Zeke, what a sense of humor you have. Not this time though, I'm too far away to catch. Besides, we'll meet again. I plan on haunting you for many years to come."
Ezekiel looked up to see Jim and Blair exiting the elevator as Ash laughed again.
"By the way Zeke, if I were you I would hurry. I don't think the priest at the church will be too thrilled to see Lash."
"Shit!" Ezekiel slammed down the phone and ran toward Jim and Blair explaining the situation as he hustled them back into the elevator.
They raced to the church, Ezekiel cursing at himself for not trusting his instincts that Ash would have a play in this. She felt herself to be unfairly condemned to Hell by a religion she had not believed in, in punishment for sacrificing her child. She sought revenge against people and places of worship, it seemed only fitting she would have a central role in this case.
As soon as they reached their destination Jim slammed on the brakes and they raced from the truck to the building.
Ezekiel entered the building weapon raised. He listened to the sounds around
him, every sense attuned to his surroundings. Behind him entered Jim, gun
drawn and behind him Blair. He couldn't hear the other police officer
behind him and he smiled slightly. If it weren't because he was hyperaware
of his environment, he wouldn't know the other man was behind him. In many
ways this made him better suited to track the demon than he himself was.
Zeke shook his head, stopping the thought. He wouldn't wish his job on anyone. He turned his attention away from the men behind him as he heard scurrying along the ground. His gun pointed down in reaction, letting out a small sigh as he saw a small shadow move along the floor.
"Ooh, jumping at shadows now Mr. Stone?", the light faded just in time for
Zeke to see the smirk on Devil's face.
Jim felt the prickly sensation along his spine and tensed, looked to the
side, making sure no demon would jump out of the shadows and attack the
"Go away!" Ezekiel's soft raspy voice drew Jim's attention back to the man
in front. He raised his gun and pointed it at the space next to Ezekiel,
ignoring the soft gasp from Blair, behind him.
"There's something there Chief," he whispered back.
"Zeke, is it the demon? Should I shoot him?" The soft laugh shook Jim to
the core. He could feel Blair shift behind him as he reacted to the laugh.
"No," said Zeke, "this isn't him." The nervous quality in Zeke's voice
caused Jim to shift closer.
"But this is a demon right? Can we shoot him and make him go away?" Blair asked.
The laugh sounded again, this time accompanied by a voice. "Don't even
think about it Detective, Mr. Stone could tell you how well that would
Zeke shifted his gaze away from Devil, looking back in front of him.
"Should I show myself to them, Ezekiel?" Devil asked.
"Afraid they will discover the truth, Mr. Stone?"
"Shut up" Ezekiel's words were said through clenched teeth.
"You dare to tell me what to do?"
From anyone else the tone would sound threatening. Ezekiel however could hear the amusement underlying the statement. Ezekiel kept walking, ignoring the jibe. The press of the body against him stopped Ezekiel's forward movement.
"Why are you working with these two Mr. Stone?" the query was whispered in his ear as a hand pressed against him.
"They wanted in." Ezekiel answered, shifting backwards.
"I want in as well. Why is it you won't let me in?" Devil asked, pressing against Ezekiel again, his hip brushing against Stone's groin, smiling at the soft gasp elicited from the other man.
Ezekiel gasped again as he was yanked back by a strong hand gripping his shoulder.
Jim's hand rested on Ezekiel's shoulder as he gaped at the man who had been standing in front of Stone. Jim's nostrils flared as he picked up a scent of arousal from the man in front of him. He sized him up, needing to know the enemy who threatened them.
The man who stood in front of him was a few inches shorter than Ezekiel, slender in built and dressed in an elegant black suit. He was not what Jim would have pictured a demon to look like. He stepped closer and shivered as the man smiled at him. The smile was part sinister, part amused. He stepped closer to Jim and plucked his hand off of Ezekiel's shoulder in a manner that could only be described as proprietary.
"Don't touch" the other man said, in a smile that looked suspiciously like
a baring of teeth, gripping the hand tightly.
Jim winced, eyes widening at the power in that grip.
"Stop" the softly uttered word, stilled both men immediately.
The slighter man turned away from Jim, releasing his hand, gaze locking
He smiled again, this smile a softer version of the first. "Only because you ask me to." He raised a finger and brushed it softly against Ezekiel's cheek, his face sobering. "Don't forget, you're mine" he said softly before disappearing.
Jim looked at the bowed head of the man in front of him curious to know what he had just witnessed. This was another one of the secrets this man held, along with the real reason why he was chasing the demons. Jim shook his head, after this was all over he could ask. And if there was no answer that was fine too. After all he understood more than anyone, the needs to keep some things a secret.
A muffled sound in the distance had them running forward towards the source. They approached a door and Ezekiel stood to the side gun at the ready as Jim kicked it in. Ezekiel gasped horrified as he saw Lash with knife plunging down towards a man he could assume to be the priest, writhing on the floor. He fired off a shot, which slammed Lash back away from the man.
Lash looked up in surprise as the bullet impacted his arm. He slammed through an open doorway to his left knocking over the one candle that had been illuminating the room. Plunged into total darkness the men inched forward until they reached Lash's intended victim. Jim untied him urging the man to run and call for police backup. As he ran Jim straightened and they moved forward again towards the doorway that Lash had disappeared through.
Jim walked through first. They were back into the main worship area. Ezekiel followed closely listening carefully. About halfway through the room he heard as someone slammed into Jim knocking him to the ground. Before he could react Blair had run forward in alarm and was also slammed down. He listened frantically for any other sounds but heard nothing.
"Come on, why pick on the humans?" he asked, walking forward wincing as he heard Jim exhale sharply at what sounded like a kick as he lay on the ground. "Afraid to fight me Lash?" he taunted trying to take Lash's focus away from Jim and Blair. It worked only too well he realized as he felt Lash strike out at him.
Ezekiel's head snapped back at the force of the blow. He stumbled back,
crashing to the ground after stumbling over the bodies on the floor. He
could hear the breathing of the fallen men; glad to know they were alive.
He felt the larger man, Ellison, shift beneath him. Ezekiel crawled away
from the bodies, trying to shift attention away from Ellison so that Lash
didn't notice he was about to regain consciousness.
Ezekiel struggled to his feet, trying not to give away his location in the
darkness. He backed up against the wall and shifted further away from Lash.
A sudden rustle at his side alerted him to Lash's position. He turned in
that direction, fists clenched in preparation. A shaft of light through the
stained glass windows, glinting off of metal, alerted Zeke to duck.
A flash of pain as the bullet grazed his temple made him stagger away. He
fell to the ground, rolling towards Lash and slamming into his legs,
causing the other ma to fall and drop the gun. Ezekiel stood but was
prevented from attacking by a kick to mid-chest.
The powerful kick knocked him back over one of the church pews. He hit the
ground, the heavy pew falling over on top of him. He struggled to push the
pew off of him, movements growing more frantic as he heard Lash pick up the
Though a bullet would not mortally wound him, if Lash managed to shoot him
in both eyes it would send Ezekiel straight back to Hell, thereby ending his
bid for a second chance at redemption. He lifted the pew only to have it slam
back against him by the weight of Lash's body slamming on top of the pew.
Ezekiel cursed loudly as a bullet slammed through the wood of the pew and
past his head. He heard the click of the gun, preparing to flinch away from
the next bullet fired. He shoved again at the pew, trying to shift it as a
Lash pressed down with all his weight to thwart him.
He heard Lash cry out at the same time that he heard a growl off to the side. He
heard the grunt from Lash as a body impacted with his. The weight of the
pew eased and he struggled from under the pew, catching glimpses of Jim
struggling with Lash.
Zeke looked up as Blair ran over and pulled at the pew, to help lift it off.
"Shit. Do you have a gun, Blair?"
"No, man...and Jim's gun is back there somewhere but I can't see it. Jim
Blair shook his head, "What we need is a distraction," Blair said and ran forward to match actions to words.
Blair kicked at the back of Lash's knees, trying to make his leg buckle, earning himself a backward kick. It was enough for Jim to break out of Lash's hold. Jim backhanded Lash, surprising the other man and causing him to stumble into the wall. Jim listened as his Guide struggled up from the floor and he saw Lash turning in that direction. Blair was quicker though and interlocking his fingers, slammed his hand down onto Lash's; causing him to lose his grip on the gun and it tumbled to the ground. The Sentinel could not allow Lash to strike his Guide again.
A volley of blows to the torso and face assured Jim that his Guide would not face Lash head on. He could only hope now that Stone had the opportunity to grab the gun and do what he needed to do.
Jim began to tire as he continued his attack; heart sinking as the blows apparently had no effect, besides making the demon twitch slightly. He turned at a movement beyond them, seeing Stone reach for the gun on the floor. Jim was snapped back by Lash's arm encircling his neck, cutting off his airflow.
"Stone!" everyone stopped at the sneering tone.
Zeke's hand hovered just above the gun as he looked up to see Jim
struggling with the hand pressing against his windpipe. Zeke looked to the
side where Blair stood frozen in horror, hand outstretched. Too far away to help
"You can't win," Ezekiel said softly.
"Oh but I'm already winning, Stone. I know you won't harm the mortals.
That's your weakness; you care what happens to them. You wish you were like them. But you never will be," Lash snickered at the stricken look on Ezekiel's face.
"Oh you're funny Stone. You still think He will let you return once you've
sent back all 113 of us, don't you? He won't. You are and forever will be a
"Shut up!" the raised voice, effectively cut off Lash's rant. His eyes widened in shock for a moment at the roar from the normally soft-spoken man. His eyes then narrowed as he saw Zeke's gaze shift from Blair to Jim in panic.
"Oh this is _ too_ funny. You mean you haven't told them, Stone? Why not? Afraid
your new friends won't like you?" Lash asked, sneering.
Lash moved forward, tightening his hold on Jim when Blair shifted forward instinctually.
"Stay where you are, or he's dead and unlike Stone I would have no problem with that," Lash bit out, baring his teeth. He gave a grin of satisfaction as Blair instantly pulled back. "Now, move away from the gun Stone," Lash said, directing himself to Stone. He waited as Ezekiel stood and moved away before he reached forward picking up the gun.
He picked up the gun, his smile more chilling than any Ezekiel had ever
"I am the winner Mr. Stone," the soft-spoken words were just drowned out by
the deafening sound of a shot being fired in the stillness.
The bullet hit its mark, slamming into his right eye and knocking Ezekiel
to the ground.
Pain lanced throughout his body, radiating outwards from his eye and he
heard the yell from Blair as light burst forth from Ezekiel's eye.
Zeke crawled along the ground towards the gun, feeling the intense pain
rolling through his body as he fought the pull to return to Hell. The light
pouring forth from his eye actually served to illuminate the ground and
show him the exact location of Jim's gun.
Ezekiel grabbed the gun and turned back just as Jim lost his grip on Lash
who had managed to rise to his knees. Zeke raised the gun, hand trembling
slightly as he took aim, unused to trying to sight a target while only
having vision in one eye. The blood running down Jim's face from a cut over
his eye, reminded Ezekiel of the frailty of the mortals holding Lash,
causing the trembling in his hand to increase.
Jim winced as the light from Zeke's eye unexpectedly hit him square in the
face, causing him to begin to lose his grip on Lash.
"Go ahead, take the shot!" Blair shouted to Zeke realizing they were about
to lose the upper hand.
Zeke paused and took a breath. Ignoring the burning in his eye and
throughout his body, he centered and took the shot.
Lash's roar told Zeke his shot was true.
The next shot flew over his head followed by a muffled shout by Blair.
Ezekiel moved forward and smiled at Lash as he pressed the trigger.
Jim lost his grip completely and Ezekiel was knocked back as Lash swung
wildly connecting solidly with his face. "Blair get the gun, we've got to
get him while he's weakened," Ezekiel called as he tumbled back. Next to
Lash, Jim was straightening and leaned forward running and slamming Lash in
the torso, forcing the demon down to the floor. Ezekiel sprang forward
throwing himself on Lash's legs.
At any other time Blair would have hesitated. Not this time. This was the
man who years before had traumatized him so that until this day he still
suffered nightmares. Lash did belong in Hell, and Blair felt justified in
being the one to send him there. He picked up the gun and ran back to the
group on the floor, took aim and fired.
The sound of the bullet impacting flesh was lost among the shouts and oaths
of the men who were holding Lash down. It was the inhuman wail that
Jim gasped and flinched back, the wail almost deafening him. He heard Blair
telling him to dial it down and tried to comply even as he scrambled
backwards to get away from the source of the wail. The light pouring from
Lash's eye was an assault on his vision and he stood shakily, needing
distance. Suddenly the light began to spread over Lash's body, swirls of
white and blue enveloping his body.
The wail doubled in intensity as Ezekiel added his own to the cacophony.
Blair and Jim stared in shock as the light enveloped Ezekiel's body as
"He's being pulled in!" Blair shouted grabbing at Ezekiel's arm. Jim
ignored the assault to his senses as best he could and leaned over to help
Blair, grabbing Ezekiel's other arm. Using all their strength they yanked
the detective away from the blue and white light, and half running half
stumbling a few feet away from Lash.
They sank to the ground a few feet away, watching as the light swirled
faster and faster around the demon's body until suddenly a darkness spread
along the ground beneath him and he fell in through the darkness,
disappearing from view with a final wail, leaving nothing behind but the
fading light and a hint of smoke.
The trickle of light that escaped from the hand Ezekiel held cupped over
his eye, faded away. He let his hand drop, adding his sigh of relief to
those of his two companions.
"Is it over?" Blair asked hesitantly.
Ezekiel said nothing, feeling the first twinges on his arm. The hissing
sound of burning flesh caused the Sentinel to yank up the sleeve on
Ezekiel's coat. Jim and Blair stared in amazement at the sizzling sound
and the smoke rising from his arm, as the tattoo representing Lash was
burned off his arm.
Ezekiel smiled despite the pain of it and turned to Blair, nodding.
"Now it's over."
Ezekiel stood on the balcony, looking out into the night. He breathed in
deeply, even after many months, not having lost his appreciation of fresh
air. The air in Hell could at best be described as stagnant, at times he
felt as if he were breathing in fire.
He heard footsteps behind him and turned to see the anthropologist walking
up to him, smiling as he handed him a bottle of beer.
"Looking for something in particular?" Blair asked, nodding in the general
direction of the city buildings.
"Not something. Someone." He said, unconsciously looking down to his arm,
where the plethora of tattoos was clearly visible.
Blair looked down, letting out a small gasp, as he finally understood.
"Each one of those represents someone you're looking for?"
"Who are these people?" the question was hushed, awestruck.
"The question should probably be, what are these people?" Jim interjected,
coming to stand on the balcony with the other men.
"It's a long story."
"We've got time," Blair countered.
"And I've got an eternity," he said softly. At the inquisitive look on
Jim's face he let out a breath and turned back towards the view.
"It all started about 15 years ago with someone named Gilbert Jax...."
Not likely >; - )
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