Disclaimer: Someone with a lot more money than
me owns "Brimstone". What I write here is purely
for fun, not for profit.

Warnings: Uh, can we say strange, folks (what, this is new for me)? Pretty romantic for this fandom, I suppose, but that may depend on exactly how you define "romance"...

Feedback is my drug of choice. Please feed the
author's habit. Or better yet, send the FOX network
hatemail for canceling "Brimstone", I'm sure the
devil would approve...

Plague of Ghosts
by sidewinder

The last tattoo was gone.

Ezekiel Stone leaned against the wall, his
breath still coming in labored gasps from the
just-finished fight. He kept staring at the skin
of his right forearm, trying to come to terms
with what he saw:


His arm was bare, as bare as the rest of his
body. One hundred and thirteen names burned
away, no trace left behind...not physically, at
least. The mournful last cry of his final quarry
still seemed to echo all around him, in the
damp, cool air of the warehouse building where
Zeke had found him.

Found him, fought him, shot out his eyes. And it
had been...easy. Too easy, almost, leaving Zeke
numb with disbelief that it could all be over. He
had chased and defeated thousand year-old
warriors, ancient pagan priestesses, insane
serial killers...vile rapists. This last one had
been nothing special, not in that company. Just
a street punk who'd gone to Hell for murdering
members of a rival gang before getting killed
himself. The kid had only escaped Zeke's
attention for so long through keeping a lower
profile than most of his companions. But he'd
found them all, eventually. Some of them had
even come searching for *him*, *wanting* to go
back to Hell. They had known that they didn't
belong here on Earth, not any longer.

Ezekiel understood that feeling. It was one he'd
wrestled with often enough, these past few

He had barely hesitated before pulling the
trigger this time, not like he used to. He was
too tired; his prey's pleas for mercy had barely
registered on his ears. His job was to send them
all home, not to worry about what horrors
awaited them back in Hell or whether they
deserved such a fate or not. All he'd kept
thinking was that this was the last one, the
last time he'd have to look someone in the eyes...
only to destroy them.

It was over.

"Well, Ezekiel. I suppose congratulations are in

Zeke looked up. The devil sat on the edge of a
wooden crate near the opposite wall. His smile
seemed rather muted compared to his normal gleeful
smirk. "I always knew you could do it--even if you
needed the occasional kick in the ass for

"That was the last one," Zeke half-stated, half-
asked, needing confirmation before he could
believe it was true.

"The very last. No more wayward demons running
loose upon the fair Earth...none, except for
you, of course."

For a moment Zeke wondered if the devil would
honor his promise or whether he'd just spent the
last three years doing Satan's dirty work for
nothing. The devil slipped off the edge of the
crate and walked toward him, hands in the
pockets of his well-tailored suit. "I'll keep my
word, Ezekiel. I always intended to." He nodded
toward the exit. Zeke noticed the hazy glow
coming from outside...was it just the morning
light of approaching dawn? It seemed somehow too
bright, too vibrant to his eyes. "When you leave
here...you will leave as a mortal man," the
devil explained, and after a brief pause added,
"Perhaps we'll see each other again, thirty or
forty years down the road. Though I'm sure
that's one fate you'll try your best to avoid."

Ezekiel turned back to look at the devil, seeing
through his thin smile to the pain he was trying
hard to mask. "Maybe," Zeke answered. His
thoughts ran through everything that had
happened during these past three years...things
between himself and the ruler of Hell which he
never would have imagined possible.

He thought of all the times the devil had
infuriated him with cryptic clues and threats
that he should take his job more seriously,
taunted him about his wife, his past, his fate
should he fail in his mission. He also thought
of nights spent lost in the pleasure of the
Lucifer's touch, his kisses, the inhuman passion
he'd fought against at first, but soon enough
come to revel in. To need.

Ezekiel reached up, wanting to touch the fallen
angel's face one last time. The flesh was no
more real than his own, but to his perceptions
it felt *very* real, and warm, and he wanted to
remember that feeling. "It wasn't all bad."

"No, it wasn't," Lucifer answered, so much more
expressed in his clear eyes and his smile than
in his words. It was always that way between
them. Ezekiel had learned with time and
experience how to read every facial tick, every
variation of a smile or a frown on his lover's

How strange his life--his death--had become,
Zeke thought as he stood there, caught between
the urge to run to freedom and the desire to
stay, just a little while...maybe even longer.
Maybe forever. Three years ago he wouldn't have
looked back once from the light awaiting him. He
would have walked through that door and been
glad to never lay eyes on the devil again.

But now, looking into his eyes and thinking back
on the past, Zeke knew what he really wanted:
a reason not to go.

"If you can say one thing to me...I won't do
it," Zeke said softly.

"You what?"

"I won't do it. I'll stay with you."

Shock flashed across the devil's expressive
face, for just a moment. He quickly regained his
composure and asked, his tone of voice cool,
"And what would that be?"

"Tell me that you love me."

Lucifer's eyes widened and then he stepped
back, laughing hard. "Very funny, Ezekiel. You
really think you could mean that much to me?"

"You don't want to admit it, not even to
yourself. But I know how you feel. At least I
think I do." He remembered how their last few
encounters had been more desperate, more
passionate than ever before. Lucifer had
lingered with him long into the night instead of
disappearing as soon as passions had been
satisfied. In silence they had held each other
for hours, the devil tracing over the lines of
the last few tattoos on Zeke's body, over and
over, never saying a word as he did so. He
hadn't needed to, then. Ezekiel had seen the
fear of loss in those gray eyes, growing
stronger as each mark had burned away.

The last time had been five night before. Lying
on the musty bed in a cheap motel room, Zeke had
met the devil's gaze and said for the first
time, "I love you."

"Don't. Don't say that, Ezekiel."

"Even if it's true?"

"Especially if it is. There is no place for love
here. Not now, not for us," the devil had told
him. Zeke had let it go then, but he wasn't
going to let it go now without a fight.

Lucifer's laughter died away quickly under
Ezekiel's serious gaze. "I..." he started, then
struggled for several long moments in silence
before confessing, "I don't want to lose you."

Zeke shook his head. "That's not enough. You
know my soul. I want to know yours. I have to
know what I mean to you or else I'm gone."

The devil's anger flared and he snapped, "Fine,
then go. Get out of here before you try my
patience and I cancel our deal after all."

Ezekiel shrugged, turned and started walking.
Why was he fighting for this anyway? Maybe none
of what he felt was real, maybe it was all the
result of the devil's spell over him. When he
stepped outside, he would be free from it all,
free to reclaim his life...

Whatever he might be able to reclaim of it,
being a man who had been legally dead for
eighteen years. A man who had allowed the
memories of his wife's gentle love to be burned
away by the devil's heated touch.

A man who had seen too much of this world
already, quite honestly, and wasn't sure he
really wanted to see any more of it. He'd seen
the bodies of too many victims, too many
innocents killed at the hands of the escaped
damned souls. The final screams of so many still
echoed through his head, his dreams. There was
so much darkness and pain weighing down his
soul. Somehow the devil had become the only one
who could lift that darkness from him, at least
for a while. But maybe it would be different,
once he was really "alive" again. He could start
over. He could go to Rosalyn and try to reclaim
at least something of what they had once shared.

He was almost there. Another few steps and the
body he wore as a pretend living man would
become real again.


He stopped and turned around. The devil stood
just a few feet behind him. Zeke could sense the
tension within his body as Lucifer struggled,
still, to hold back his emotions. But it was a
battle he was clearly beginning to lose. "I need
you," he said, a tremble beneath the words. He
was close to admitting it, but close wasn't what
Zeke needed to hear.

"That's not good enough." Ezekiel started to
turn back and take another step toward the

"Wait--!" Lucifer grabbed Ezekiel's shoulders,
spinning him so they were face to face. His
touch was hard and desperate, fingers digging--
burning--into the detective's flesh. Zeke
waited, watched, saw the devil's pride crumble
away under his fear. "All right. I love you. Are
you satisfied, dammit?"

The bitter confession brought a small grin to
Zeke's face. "That didn't sound very sincere."

The devil scowled at him. "I'm trying. Don't get
picky." His grip on Ezekiel's shoulders
loosened and his gaze turned  questioning, hopeful.

Ezekiel answered him in the language they were
both more comfortable with. He leaned in and
kissed Lucifer, losing himself in the familiar
heat of his lover's mouth. No, he couldn't leave
this, not now, he knew. This was home. This was
peace. This was love.

"Come back with me, Ezekiel. Stay with me. I
need you. It won't be like before," the devil
promised, his words flowing easily now that the
worst barrier had been broken.

"What will it be like?"

"Our own private Heaven...in the middle of Hell,
if that's possible."

"I guess we'll find out if it is," Zeke

"Yes. I guess we will."

Ezekiel took what he figured would be his last
look around this world. Dark, cold, empty...no,
he wouldn't be sorry to let it go. Resolved to
his fate, he reached into his coat pocket, where
his gun rested. It still felt slightly warm from
the recent firing, and if his memory served him
right there were still two bullets in it. He
pulled it out and tried to give the weapon to
Lucifer. The devil covered Zeke's hand with his
own but shook his head and did not take the
weapon. "I can guide your hand, but I can't pull
the trigger. You have to do it yourself."

They stood in silence for a long moment.  "It's
gonna hurt, isn't it?" Ezekiel sighed.

"Like Hell. But I'll be with you...I'll always
be with you, Ezekiel."

Zeke saw something, then, in the devil's eyes.
Something he'd never seen before.

True joy.

It was a beautiful sight.

Ezekiel turned the gun toward his own eyes;
Lucifer held it steady and nodded. Two quick
shots and it would be over.

*God be with you, Rosalyn,* Zeke prayed

He pulled the trigger.


/ So I lay me down to lie and with the
/ rain my lullaby I drift away to
/ dreamless sleep, leave behind a life
/ that died, a victim of a
/ plague of ghosts

/ I was wrapped up in my guilt buried
/ deep within my memories, a shelter
/ of self-pity that I know the rain will
/ wash away, I sense the storm arriving...

          -- "Plague of Ghosts", by Fish

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