The show "Brimstone" belongs to Fox and their underlings. And  also lots of thanks to John Glover for doing a excellent Devil  and Peter Horton for doing a good Ezekiel Stone. If you try to  sue me for this, you'll get a ragged broom. And a dog with a  taste for garbage..not mine, fortunately.  And slash,  ladies and gentlemen, means male/male sexual and emotional   relationship. Got that? Don't like that, get out.'d you   get here anyway if you don't like slash? Now, with all the  disclaimers over and done with...on with the story.

This takes  place after the Benedict episode, or, "The Repentant Nazi"  episode, if that helps. The Chinese poet episode took place before Benedict, but aired *after* Benedict. How do I know? Check out the scene when Stone tells the cleaner what the various holes  in his coat was in Benedict. One of his comments was that a  specific hole was from a bamboo stick--which was what the poet  stuck Stone with. Thanks to Diane on the Slashlist, whose comment             about Death's mistress caused this story to take a U-turn. I do  think it's better now before it was before, and more suited to  the Devil's world now.


               The Poker Game

               By Ladyserez

                    *A new outfit! Outfit! What's wrong with mine?* I stare
               after you as you exit the elevator, eating those repulsive Reggie
               bars. And I'm still obsessing over what you said earlier. I
               *know* I surprised you..after all, who expects coins to turn hot
               in one's hand? And why am I so concerned over what you think of

                    "Go to Hell. Please." You're learning. Learning more than
               you ever did in Hell. Odd. You resisted evil...well, my kind of
               evil anyway, in Hell. Now that you're alive're been
               doing some odd things. Trying to help Gwen DuBarres, sparing
               Benedict's life..even through in the end you killed him. One
               could say that you're trying to be good, but I don't think so.
               No. There's something going on in that soul of yours--I can feel
               it. I think you're getting too used to me.

                    Too used? That's a frightening thought. And I think about it
               as I play a poker game with you-know-who. We do this every month.
               Without fail. I taunt him about the Crusades, and he taunts me
               about Nazi Germany. I got a lot of souls there, by the way, not
               just Benedict. But what they did was too disgusting, even for me.
               I prefer careful cultivating--they went through people like Death
               with his scythe. I could have gotten more souls if it hadn't been
               for that little business of the camps.

                    "Your call. Morningstar?"  That's Death speaking. Also known
               as Shiva, Hades, Tyr, Osrsis...whatever. "See you and raise you
               three. Sorry about that."

                    "No problem. What's wrong?" Shiva looks at me. "Nothing," I
               reply. Ahura Mazda just snorts. If I could have killed him before
               now, I would've. Bastard. We three mythical beings..playing a
               poker game like all those mortals do every Friday. How...human.
               And how frightening.

                     Why do I have a feeling they know about Stone? Shiva
               confirms it with his next words. "Tell me..that delicious
               detective of yours--Stone I believe it was. Did the poor bastard
               really believe you about allowing him to live again?"

                    I glare at him. Shit eating carrion. "I told him he would--
               if he got all 113. The way he's going, it may take him quite some
               time. Until that time, I wouldn't worry." I shuffle the cards. I
               may just ask Shiva about his wife, or if you would, his mistress.
               One must keep them on their toes, don't you think? Or else why
               call me Lord of Lies?

                    "What about the tattoos?" That's Ahura Mazda. My, he's
               *quite* concerned. About what? "The tattoos? They're to keep
               count. He gets one, one disappears. What could be more simple?"

                    "You used your blood, didn't you? You know what that means."
               Shiva again. Eeee. Now they're ganging up on me. "Assholes, both
               of you. I didn't notice either of you objecting when I ordered
               them put on him. Now you're concerned? Tell me," I lean back in
               my chair, "just why you're so frightened. Oh, that's right.
               You're never frightened. You're just *concerned*. Now butt out!"

                    A glow spreads across Ahura Mazda's face. Uh-uh. "Certainly
               not. You know why. Your delightful Stone, of course. Blood to
               blood, remember? And tattooing Stone..just like sticking a ring
               on him." Ahura Mazda smiles. Shiva preens. They seem not to have
               noticed my oh-so-nasty putdown earlier. And I'm sitting there
               like a fool. I did that to Stone to keep him under
               Ahura Mazda is sending out engagement announcements. How
               charming. Not.

                    "Well, you know. I wasn't planning on marrying the good
               detective. Just on using him to find all 113. And need I remind
               you? Someone old and powerful planned this. That, and the need to
               keep Stone under control is why I mixed my blood with the ink."
               That putdown done, I turn to Shiva. He's shaking his head.

                    "It's not that easy, Morningstar. Tattoos. You know better
               than that--you saw what happened with me and Kali. Death's
               mistress. Being a mistress--or a lover of one of us carries
               enormous responsibility. They function where we cannot. They go
               where we can't. I *had* been waiting for you to select a
               mistress, or a lover. For a while there, I thought Madame
               Pompamaur was in the running, but you don't like cast-offs, do

                    Now I'm getting furious. It's one thing to taunt me about
               Stone, quite another for Shiva to start sounding like he wants a
               shotgun wedding. And all this at a simple poker game. Imagine it,
               if you can--Stone in a wedding dress, me in a tuxedo, with all
               the demons around us. The thought alone is enough to make me want
               to throw up. And I almost do, all over Shiva.

                    Fortunately, Ahura comes to my aid. Like I wanted his help.
               "Shiva, you can't do that. You know as well as I that we must
               select our consorts on our own...not on the advice of others.
               But, Morningstar, you must consider this. The tattoos given to
               Stone are..powerful things. They connect you with him. Like I
               said--you might as well stick a neon sign on Stone, flashing,
               "the Devil's consort"."

                    He leans back in his chair, while I stare daggers at him. He
               looks at me, considering. Once I was his consort, his favorite.
               But then he threw me away, in favor of his new consort--the human
               race. Little shit-brown things. But the old resentments don't
               hurt like they once did.

                    "Ironic, is it not?" Shiva jitters in his seat, trying to
               get our attention back to poker. But Ahura Mazda the Mighty isn't
               having any of it.

                    "What's so ironic, you moron?" I shuffle my cards. Shiva
               looks like he wants to hide until this is all over. It's not that
               easy, boyo.

                    "Think on it, Morningstar. Why harp on his wife? The woman
               did nothing to you. Except maybe enjoy Stone's favors before that
               little episode." Shiva's ears perk up at that. He does so enjoy
               carrying tidbits like that back to Kali. The bitch. She asked me
               last week at the Gods' Ball when I was going to pick a consort. I
               told her I hadn't needed one since I fell from Heaven, and I sure
               as Hell wasn't going to pick one any time soon. She just smiled
               at me.

                    Oh shit. "Ahura...the only reason I harp on about his wife
               is this--he's dead. She's alive. He's only on Earth to find those
               113 souls..which is now 109, I believe. Not to look for his wife.
               The point here, Ahura, is that he works for me. Not for that
               bitch." Ahura's taken aback. Why? Then he grins. "Really? Let's
               see your cards, then we can call it a night."

                    I scowl at him, then show him the cards. So does Shiva. What
               do you know--Ahura wins again. Bastard. While Shiva's accusing
               Ahura of cheating, I think about the last soul Stone sent back.
               That Chinese poet..he came damn close. Too close for my comfort.
               Just too damn close. I smile a deadly smile that neither God
               notices. That little pimple of a poet is now spending eternity on
               a rock pile. Just the thing to ruin his precious hands. And his
               poetry was awful, too. I'd laugh if it didn't mean ruining the
               sarcastic asshole persona that I've spent eternity culturing.
               Like they would care.

                    In a flash of light, they vanish. So do I.


                    A bundle of clothes lying on the narrow bed told Ahura Mazda
               he had the right place. He could smell the blood of his former
               consort circulating through Stone's body. Mazda stepped through
               the window to get a closer look at the man that so entranced

                    He wasn't hard to look at, thought the God of Heaven. That
               little beard did soften the man's face. Ahura's nose wrinkled as
               he picked up the longcoat. Was that a bamboo hole, now stitched
               up? He really had to find out the name of the cleaners that had
               done a incredible job. And before Shiva found out there was
               someone that actually had a prayer of preserving his favorite but
               smelly Harvard sweatshirt.

                    He threw it back down. The body on the bed didn't stir.
               "Morningstar was right. You *are* an annoyance to him. Eating,
               sleeping, even through you don't need it." A broad grin split the
               God's face. "Exactly what I need. Let's see. Did Morningstar
               leave any spot empty?" Stone slept on through Ahura's
               examination. Finally he found a small spot, just behind Stone's
               right knee, right under the sigil of a mass murderer.

                    "Yes. Keep on sleeping, Stone." He waved a hand, and Stone
               sank deeper into the darkness. The God of Heaven took out a small
               ceramic jar and put it on the floor. A small flash signaled the
               appearance of another God. Shiva grinned down at Ahura. "Wanted
               to get into the fun. Need any help?"

                    "Yes. Keep him under, and make sure Morningstar doesn't feel
               anything." He carefully opened the jar, and stirred the sluggily
               red/black liquid with his finger.

                    "Sure you want to do that? Without telling Morningstar? He
               finds out, he'll have your guts for garters." Without being told,
               Shiva lifted the unconcious man's leg so Ahura could reach it.

                    "He won't. He doesn't have enough power to challenge me,
               ever. He'll know, through. He'll know, and that's what I want."
               Carefully, Ahura Mazuda drew a small sigil with a chicken's
               feather. Two parallel sweeps, then a line across the other two.

                    "I'm done." The sigil flared, then faded into blackness.
               "With luck, Stone'll think it's just another sigil, one he didn't
               notice before."

                    Shiva smiled. "Won't be long before the party starts."

                "No.   It won't. Let's go."

                     A flash, and the two Gods were gone. The sun began its
               ascension over the horizon, as Stone slept on.

               The End


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