Rating: PG! 
                 It should be perfectly safe for gen-only readers, though it does, as you
                 might expect from me, at least have a little subtext in it.

                 Disclaimer:  Brimstone belongs to Cyrus Voris and Ethan Reiff. I'm borrowing
                 their characters without permission. No profit is being made.
 Warnings: None, really. Anyone familiar with the show should know what to

Second Sight
  By sidewinder

                 Out in what he could only properly describe
                 as the middle of nowhere, Ezekiel Stone sat
                 on a large, smooth boulder on the edge of a
                 lake. Wilderness surrounded him, as far as he
                 could see--nothing but the lake and
                 encircling forest, uninhabited for miles
                 except for the wildlife.

                 He found it peaceful here, so very tranquil.
                 In fact he found the forest almost alien, but
                 then again he was a man who had spent most of
                 his days in cities. The well-manicured lawns
                 and carefully planted gardens of his suburban
                 youth were nothing compared to this landscape
                 shaped instead by natural forces and the
                 changing seasons.

                 He wasn't hunting. He'd chased his latest
                 quarry here, to the countryside of upstate
                 New York. He'd followed a trail of victims
                 and traced the demon to his hiding place in
                 an abandoned farmhouse. Their confrontation
                 had been brief and violent. The escaped demon
                 had been stronger than Ezekiel, but not
                 nearly as smart. The former detective had
                 managed two dead-on shots to the demon's
                 eyes, sending him back to Hell, where he

                 Just another name to scratch off his list...
                 another scribble burned away from his inhuman
                 flesh. Ezekiel was used to the routine by
                 now. What still bothered him were the
                 nightmarish cries of the damned souls when he
                 sent them home. Those screams reminded him
                 too much of what awaited *him*, should he
                 fail in his mission.

                 Zeke had finished off this particular demon
                 just yesterday. The devil had yet to appear
                 to point him toward the next escapee on his
                 list, so Zeke had decided to take some time
                 to himself until then--some time to relax, go
                 hiking, see a part of the world he'd never
                 seen before.

                 The quiet of this place was good for him, he
                 decided quickly. He liked it a lot. After
                 fifteen years in Hell, listening to the
                 never-ending screams of the damned, he'd
                 almost forgotten what peace and quiet was
                 like. And in the cities where he'd spent most
                 of his time--New York, Los Angeles--it was
                 never truly quiet, either. Not like here,
                 with just the rustling of wind through the
                 trees and the occasional cries of the birds
                 to interrupt the silence.

                 He'd been hiking for hours, first along
                 marked trails, then wherever his curiosity
                 had led him. By late afternoon he'd found his
                 way to this lake and decided to stay for a
                 while, to simply sit and watch the sunset
                 that would be coming soon. Now it was just
                 beginning to start, and from the color
                 already beginning to fill the sky, he had a
                 feeling it would be a beautiful one.

                 He sat and watched, his thoughts drifting
                 along without direction, much like the whisps
                 of clouds in the sky above. Not many men
                 walked the Earth with the knowledge he
                 possessed, and sometimes that knowledge was
                 as heavy a burden to carry as his guilt and
                 rage over what had happened to Rosalyn, all
                 those years ago. He thought of Heaven, what
                 it might be like. He thought of Hell, a place
                 with which he was all too familiar. He
                 thought of the devil, that mysterious fallen
                 angel who could be both infuriating and
                 fascinating, his true motivations and
                 thoughts always beyond Ezekiel's

                 In time his thoughts turned to darker
                 subjects. He thought about God and His system
                 of justice--the system which had deemed
                 Ezekiel unworthy of Heavenly peace and
                 reward. He wished he could understand it all-
                 -especially why he had been judged as
                 deserving of eternal damnation for killing a
                 piece of scum like Gilbert Jax. Yes, he'd
                 killed him in cold blood, and he felt no
                 guilt for the sorry bastard's death. But how
                 many women had Gilbert Jax raped? How many
                 families had been torn apart by that piece of
                 dirt? How many others would he have made
                 suffer like he'd made Rosalyn suffer, if he'd
                 been left to wander the streets? How could
                 God approve of letting a man like that live
                 and cause so many innocents to suffer?

                 Zeke understood--in concept, in the
                 thoughtful words of his friend Father Horn--
                 that it was his lack of remorse that had
                 damned him more than the act of murder
                 itself. But that knowledge hadn't changed his
                 feelings. He still didn't regret what he'd
                 done. As far as he was concerned, he never

                 In that case, what good was this "second
                 chance" he'd been granted? Maybe the devil
                 was right; maybe he was destined for Hell no
                 matter what and he was fooling himself to
                 think otherwise. If that was the case, Zeke
                 figured he'd best take time to enjoy his days
                 here on Earth among the living as much as he
                 possibly could. And that was exactly what he
                 intended to do, every moment he could spare
                 away from his mission, away from the devil's
                 constant prying and pushing.

                 "Really, Mr. Stone! I didn't take you to be
                 such a Nature Boy."

                 Ezekiel almost laughed. He should have known
                 it would have been too much to expect to
                 enjoy the beauty of this place in peace.

                 The devil appeared from a clearing in the
                 woods behind him. He was dressed in hiking
                 gear that was a marked step down from his
                 usual dapper attire, from the mud-covered
                 brown boots on his feet to the floppy, olive-
                 colored hat on his head. He dusted his hands
                 off on his baggy khaki pants and looked out
                 over the lake and the distant hills. After
                 drawing in a deep breath, he sighed and said,
                 "Ah... Mother Nature's pride and joy. The
                 last vestiges of wilderness, of land barely
                 trodden upon by ever-destructive human feet.
                 How utterly boring." The devil turned and
                 frowned down at Ezekiel. "What are you doing
                 here, anyway? Surely not hunting one of your

                 Zeke shrugged. "Just taking a breather is
                 all. You might think it's boring out here,
                 but I think it's... incredible."

                 The devil responded with a derisive laugh.
                 "Incredible," he echoed Ezekiel, and then he
                 settled onto the rock next to the man. He
                 picked up a small pebble and tossed it out on
                 the water, where it skipped three times
                 before dropping beneath the surface. "Ah, my
                 dear Mr. Stone, the only incredible thing
                 here is how human beings can become so
                 enraptured by this... " he paused, waving his
                 hand to encompass their surroundings, "...
                 sorry landscape of overgrown vegetation and
                 muddied waters."

                 Zeke shook his head. "You just can't see or
                 feel the things that make this place
                 special." The former detective in him took
                 note of it all: the silvery light reflecting
                 off the soft ripples on the water's surface;
                 the soft cries of the birds, calling to each
                 other in the final moments of daylight; the
                 sweet earthiness of the air; the wildflowers
                 lining the distant shore with pale blossoms
                 of blue and white. And of course, he took
                 note of the sunset, growing more intense by
                 the moment. How many other places like this
                 existed, he wondered? Places that he'd never
                 seen in his life, never had the chance to
                 explore? He felt regret for so many missed
                 chances. This "second life" he lived here on
                 Earth as a demon was just real enough to
                 experience some of these things he'd missed.
                 Yet he still felt strangely detached--he
                 could watch, he could observe, but he was
                 still apart from it all--apart from the
                 people he loved, with whom he wished he could
                 share moments like this one.

                 The devil didn't leave Zeke to his silent
                 musings and regrets for very long. "None of
                 this will be left, a hundred years from now,
                 you know. Soon enough this will all be
                 housing developments, parking lots and strip
                 malls... perhaps even a chemical
                 manufacturing plant, what with all of that
                 pure water to pollute." He chuckled. "Ah,
                 human progress. You have to admire it, don't
                 you, Mr. Stone?"

                 Zeke shook his head. "You always have to look
                 at man--at the entire world--from a negative
                 perspective, don't you?"

                 "It's my nature," the devil told him with a
                 shrug. "If I ever had the ability to see
                 things differently, I lost it a very long
                 time ago."

                 Zeke thought he heard a touch of regret in
                 those words. He turned to look at his
                 companion for a moment but the devil's well-
                 lined face was an unreadable mask. His gray
                 eyes were shadowed beneath the brim of his
                 hat, and he still wore his ever-cryptic
                 smile. Zeke turned away, back to the hills in
                 the distance and the sunset. The colors were
                 still growing more intense as the sun slipped
                 nearly completely behind the horizon. In
                 another minute the show in the sky would
                 reach its climax, and then quickly fade into
                 more muted shades of gray and purple before
                 night descended completely. He was determined
                 to enjoy every second of it, the devil's
                 pessimistic presence be dammed.

                 A few minutes passed in silence. Then,
                 without sound, without warning, Zeke suddenly
                 felt the devil right behind him, his hands
                 resting on Zeke's shoulders. He stiffened in
                 irritation, but then the devil spoke, his voice
                 softer in tone than usual and betraying a
                 hint of curiosity.

                 "Let me see through your eyes, Ezekiel."

                 Zeke was puzzled, not quite sure exactly what
                 the devil had in mind. But he relaxed,
                 slightly, and turned his attention back to
                 the sunset. He felt a strange sensation pass
                 through him, as if the world itself briefly
                 went out and then back into focus in the
                 blink of an eye. He was aware of the devil
                 still behind him... no, more than that...
                 somehow *inside* him now--inside his mind,
                 sharing his senses. Zeke felt disoriented for
                 a moment, but then he decided to ignore the
                 feeling and go back to watching the final
                 minutes of the sunset. He wasn't going to let
                 anything keep him from appreciating it.

                 The sky had turned all brilliant, violent
                 colors--orange bleeding into pink and then
                 into blood red, dark streaks of clouds
                 cutting through the bright sky. So beautiful,
                 Zeke thought; it looked like something that
                 should only exist in a fantastical painting,
                 like in those books Rosalyn used to collect
                 about the Impressionists. Pink and orange
                 finally began to fade into lavender and gray,
                 yet the red became almost like a fire in the
                 sky, for just a moment, before rapidly fading

                 As sunset turned to dusk, Zeke's attention
                 drifted back from the skies to the cool rock
                 beneath him, and the warm hands on his
                 shoulders... the devil's face pressed almost
                 cheek to cheek to his own, now, he realized.
                 He should have been repulsed, eager to pull
                 away and out of the devil's unexpected
                 embrace. Instead, he hesitated, feeling a
                 strong sense of... he wanted to call it
                 intimacy... with this being. Perhaps it was
                 nothing more than the beauty of what he'd
                 seen, leaving him feeling warm inside--warm,
                 and pleased to have had someone with whom to
                 share this moment. Even if that someone was
                 the devil.

                 The moment didn't last long. Zeke felt the
                 strange sensation of shifting focus again,
                 and the devil pulled away, settling back on the
                 ground behind Zeke with a small sigh. The
                 former detective turned around to meet the
                 devil's gaze. The emotions behind his icy,
                 shadowed eyes were still near impossible to

                 "What did you see?" Zeke asked.

                 "Everything... that I've lost. And I should
                 hate you for that, but I choose to save my
                 hatred for the one who took it all from me."

                 Silence lingered as twilight began to
                 descend. Brief flares of fire danced over the
                 surface of the lake, as the fireflies came
                 out to meet the evening. "It's gonna be a
                 beautiful night. All the stars... " Zeke
                 observed, seeing the faint sparkling lights
                 beginning to reveal themselves in the
                 darkening sky. Stars and fireflies... more
                 rare sights for a city boy. "Do you want to
                 stay... watch them with me?" he found himself

                 "No, thank you, Mr. Stone. I've seen enough
                 for one night," the devil replied, and then
                 he rose to his feet. "Some other time,

                 Zeke nodded. Some other time.

                 He turned his attention back to the skies,
                 and only knew when the devil had left by the
                 slight rush of air behind him. He lay back on
                 the rock and rested his head on his hands,
                 and watched the night sky for hours until
                 finally drifting asleep.


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