Author: volta arovet PM
Stone always thought there was only one Devil, so why is he seeing so many?Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Words: 3,144 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Published: 07-16-00 - id: 44991
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Love! Valour! Crossover!
Glovers Glovers everywhere
by volta arovet
Déjà vu: seen again. The feeling that something has occurred before.
Jamais vu: never seen. Something familiar that seems totally strange.
Presque vu: almost seen. A moment of clarity in which absolute truth is almost seen.
Stone experienced all of these "vu"s in a single day. The first "vu" was déjà vu, and occurred early in the afternoon. Stone was walking down the street looking for a new place to have lunch, his usual restaurant being closed for renovations, when he noticed a strangely familiar pedestrian walk past him. Stone stopped in his tracks. Had it been- but why would he simply pass him by? Stone started after the man. Stone could see that the man's hair was the proper chestnut color. The skin on the back of his hands was of the same dark eastern European coloring that seemed pale in direct lighting. It was most probably the Devil.
"Hey!" Stone called after him, rushing forward to stop the man. When the man turned around most of Stone's doubts vanished. The thin nose, the blue eyes; it had to be the Devil. His hair was a little shorter than usual, but Stone assumed that even the Devil changed his hairstyle every once in a while. "Usually you're desperate to get my attention, and now you just walk past me," said Stone.
The man looked confused. "What?" For some strange reason, the Devil was affecting an English accent.
"Don't you have of your usual clues or torments for me?" asked Stone sarcastically.
The man shook his head and glanced down at the ground before meeting Stone's eyes. "Do I… do I know you?"
Stone laughed, thinking that the Devil was playing a game with him. "What? You've forgotten the past three months already? You're always reminding me of 'everything we've come to mean to each other'."
The man smiled apologetically and said, "I'm sorry, but I honestly don't know what you're talking about."
Stone's confidence wavered. "Aren't you the…" he trailed off.
"Aren't I the what?" asked the man.
"The Devil?" Stone said softly, unsure and almost embarrassed at having to ask the question.
The man laughed openly. Stone had the sudden feeling of jamais vu. The features of this man were identical to those of the Devil, but he had never seen the Devil's face so lit up with honest, non-twisted pleasure. He seemed a totally different person.
"I understand now. You must think that I'm my brother, John," the man said, and laughed some more.
Stone shook his head and started to walk away. "No, I don't know him. I'm sorry. I thought you were someone else."
"That's all right," said the man. "Have you had lunch yet?" called the man at Stone's back. Stone turned around.
"No I haven't. Why?"
"I was wondering if you'd like to join me for lunch. I hate eating alone, and since I already look like one of your friends, I thought that we could…" he let his voice trail off hopefully.
Stone was open to the idea. He already liked this friendly man. "Sure."
The man smiled widely. "Good! I know this great little restaurant about a block from here." He realized that they still didn't know each other's name. "I'm James, James Jeckyll," he said, putting out his hand.
"Zeke Stone," Stone said. He accepted James's hand, shook it, and the two walked to the restaurant.
"Do you do this often?" Stone asked after a moment's pause.
"Do I do what often?"
"Invite random strangers to lunch. Aren't you afraid about who I might turn out to be?"
"No," said James frankly. "I don't usually talk to strangers I meet on the street, but since we did talk and you seem like a nice, albeit odd, person, I'm going to take that risk. Now, here's a question for you."
"Do you do this often?"
"Go up to random people on the street and ask if they're the Devil?" asked James with a grin on his face.
"Not on a regular basis," Stone said with a smirk. The two laughed together, already friends. They arrived at the restaurant, were promptly seated, and ordered their food.
Before their food arrived there was a small lull in what had been a very interesting conversation. James drew in a deep breath as if he were about to say something important. Stone leaned forward expectantly. James let out his breath, apparently deciding not to say anything. He picked up his water glass, set it down again without taking a sip, and took another deep breath. This time he continued with what he was going to say. "Before we eat, I think I ought to tell you something. I think we're becoming friends, but there's something about me that might… might scare you away."
"There's something about me that's different too," said Stone encouragingly, but let his hand move slowly to where his gun was holstered. James might turn out to be one of the 113, and Stone didn't want to take any chances. "I bet that mine can beat yours," he said with a smile meant to ease James's nerves.
James took an even deeper breath and looked Stone directly in the eyes. All of his vulnerability was visible in those two deep blue eyes. "I'm gay… and I have AIDS."
Stone lowered his eyes. "You're right, that is big. I'm sorry."
"Sorry for what?" asked James, fearing that Stone meant he was sorry he couldn't be his friend. In the world there were so many homophobics and people scared of contracting HIV just by being in close contact with someone with AIDS. James was always so open to people that his emotions could easily be crushed by any careless, prejudiced person.
"I'm sorry you have to live with AIDS," Stone explained. "It must be hard. I know that some people can be heartless and not see past the disease."
James smiled more easily and leaned back. "I can deal with it for now. I just wanted you to know. It's good to have it out in the open. So what's your big secret?" He caught himself. "Or don't you want to talk about it?"
"You probably won't believe me."
"Go ahead, try me," said James.
"Okay," said Stone, and took a deep breath, the same way James had before. "Fifteen years ago I died and went to hell for making a mistake once. Then, about nine months ago, 113 of the vilest souls escaped from hell. The Devil offered me the chance to save my soul in exchange for returning all the damned souls to hell. For some reason the Devil looks a lot like you do. That's why I stopped you on the street today."
James let out a long breath of air and tried to sort this odd information out in his head. "You're right," he said softly.
"You don't believe me?"
"No. Your secret did beat mine," James said, and took a sip of water.
"What I said is true. You're the second living person who knows what I am." Something occurred to Stone. "You could try for a pulse," Stone said, offering his wrist. He wasn't sure why it was so important, but he truly wanted James to understand.
James pushed Stone's wrist away gently. "I don't know why, but I believe you."
Their food came then, and the two friends enjoyed one of the best lunches either had ever had. The vegetables were overdone and the food was underdone to perfection, their drinks were cold and the conversation was lively.
During coffee, James glanced at his watch and excused himself. "I have to go meet someone in about ten minutes," he said, quickly standing up. "I lost all track of time." He threw some money down on the table and started for the door. He stopped at the entrance and turned around to face Stone. "Walk with me? It's not far, and unless my doppelganger suddenly gives you some instructions I don't think you have anywhere urgent to be."
"I'd love to," said Stone. He got up quickly, left more than enough money to pay for his meal and a generous tip, and the two left the restaurant.
"Who are you meeting with?" asked Stone.
"Bryce Cummings. He's the head of a television station," James explained.
"What—" Stone's voice cut off, for he was distracted by something. A very odd, very familiar man was sitting at one of the tables in an open-air restaurant. His hair was a wild halo circling his head, graying in two distinct streaks, but the distinct bright blue eyes and thin nose stood out as a beacon. He was currently ignoring his meal while talking on a cell phone, making elaborate hand gestures.
"Doesn't that man look familiar to you?" Stone asked James.
He shook his head affirmatively. "That's Dr. Wood… something. I saw his picture in the paper a few months ago. Wayne Enterprises gave him a grant to do some research in the jungles someplace. I don't know why he's here."
"No, does he look like someone you know? I mean, shorten the hair and make it all brown, remove the glasses, and subtract ten years, and who does he look like?"
The scientist was waving his free arm frantically in the air, shouting loud enough to be distinctly heard by Stone and James. He overemphasized every word; his anger growing with every syllable he spoke. "How can you shut down my research so soon after a breakthrough discovery? … I came up here so we could discuss my funding, not so you could cut it. You simply do not see the implications of my… 'Unpredictable!' 'Dangerous!' Those are fine words to throw around. What about 'shortsighted' and 'afraid'? … Yes, I am talking about you!" He paused for a few moments. The heat of his anger turned cold with rage. He said through gritted teeth, "I wish you good health so you will live to see the day I make you regret your decision." He hung up the phone and stormed out of the restaurant without bothering to pay for his uneaten meal.
Stone persisted to James, "Are you sure he doesn't…" but Woodrue was gone and James was in a hurry.
Bryce Cummings was waiting outside of his office. He was youthful looking, but the stress of his job seemed to be getting to him because his well-rehearsed smile seemed a little strained at the corners of his mouth. He looked like the Devil. He opened the Bryce Cummings was waiting outside of his office. He opened the door of a waiting taxi for James. "Before we start, I'd like you to look at…"
Stone pulled James back and whispered in his ear, "Tell me he doesn't look like you."
"Sure, I guess he looks like me," James whispered back. "He's a little younger and his hair is shorter, but basically he looks like me.""
"What do you think this all means?"
"Damned if I know," James said seriously, then realized what he had said and cast an apologetic look at Stone. "I have to go. I have your number. I'll call you later. We could have lunch together again sometime, okay?" He wasn't trying to get rid of Stone; he seemed truly sincere about calling him.
Stone nodded. James waved goodbye and got into the taxi with Bryce. Stone slowly walked away, trying to figure out the reasoning behind all of the people who look like the Devil. It couldn't be pure coincidence. There had to be some message in it, some purpose, some deeper meaning hidden somewhere.
Stone was so lost in thought that he bumped into a man standing still on the sidewalk. He and his companion had stopped to the progress of a baseball game on a television in a store window. Neither of them bore any resemblance to the Devil, Stone noted with relief. The one he had bumped into was short, had a beer gut, and wore glasses. The other was tall and wore a comb-over that made his bald spot more obvious. He apologized to the man he had bumped into and asked the scores.
Before he could answer a special news bulletin came on the screen. A graying anchorman looked seriously into the camera for a moment before speaking. "This is Dick Wagner from RUOK news with a special report. Clamp Enterprises has completed its negotiations and has reportedly bought Valco for an undisclosed amount of money. This transaction has made Clamp Enterprises the largest company based in the United States of America. With more on-the-scene information, we go to Dotty Evski. Dotty?"
The view on the screen switched to a very crowded scene filled with reporters talking busily into their microphones and news-writers jotting down notes. A young, attractive, artificially blond woman was speaking to the screen. "Thank you, Dick. It is reported that the President of Clamp Enterprises will exit momentarily."
The roar of the crowd behind her increased drastically. An attractive brightly smiling man who, almost predictably, resembled the Devil, walked out of the doorway, surrounded by two bodyguards. Reporters swarmed over him with questions. One of the bodyguards leaned into the nearest microphone and said, "Mr. Clamp has no comments at this time."
The three men tried to make their way to the limousine, but Ms. Evski placed herself in their way. "Mr. Clamp, the United States thrives on competition. Do you believe that your growing monopoly on the markets would have negative effects on the country?"
Clamp, always able to appreciate an attractive woman, cast her an even more brilliant smile. He said into the microphone, "Clamp Enterprises is the largest company based in America. We employ hundreds of thousands of Americans. What is good for Clamp Enterprises is good for the country." He then made his way to the limousine and left the crowd behind.
Ms. Evski looked directly into the camera. "There you have it. Back to you, Dick."
The screen faded back into the baseball game. "Clamp Enterprises: We Own You," joked the tall man. The other laughed and the two walked away.
Stone shook his head in disbelief. There were four Devil look-alikes he had seen: James, the scientist, Cummings, and now Clamp. What was the meaning in all of this? Stone simply did not know.
Stone was almost to his apartment when he saw someone very familiar looking walking down the street. Judging by the age and hair length, Stone was pretty sure he knew who it was. "James!" Stone called out. He turned around. "I saw another one of you on TV just now," he announced.
He raised one eyebrow. "Excuse me?"
Stone suddenly remembered something. "Shouldn't you be meeting with Bryce Cummings right now?"
He stared blankly back at Stone, growing slightly annoyed.
Recognition tinged with irritation spread across the man's face. "You have the wrong one. I'm John Jeckyll, not James Jeckyll."
Stone looked slightly embarrassed. "I'm sorry. James said he had a brother, I just didn't realize that you two were twins." He extended his hand. "I'm Zeke Stone, a friend of your brother's."
John brushed past Stone without taking his hand. "I'm sorry, but I'm in a hurry and right now I have no interest in my brother's love life."
Stone stared at John's retreating back and muttered to himself, "'Love life'?"
The rest of the day passed uneventfully until suppertime, when Stone journeyed forth from his apartment to again seek out a new restaurant. There were a brief flash of light, a sudden gust of wind, and a faint smell of brimstone in the air, and suddenly Stone wasn't walking alone anymore. The Devil took a deep breath of air and let it out with a self-satisfied sigh. "It's a lovely day for a walk, don't you agree Mr. Stone?"
"I guess," Stone muttered. "I saw something really odd today."
"What would that be, Mr. Stone? Some delightful new product of the past 15 years? Or perhaps a remnant from your past?"
"Actually, I think it's a remnant from your past," Stone said.
"Oh?" said the Devil, tilting his head to one side pseudo-endearingly.
Stone's next words were cut off by someone else. "Oh my God!" cried a woman's voice. "Oh. My. God!" she repeated again, emphasizing every word. A short, curly haired woman with glasses rushed up to the Devil. "Are you… you must be! Oh my God!"
"Try the other direction," the Devil smirked, a little thrown off balance by this unexpected interference.
"John Glover!" the woman exclaimed. "I love your work! You're my favorite actor of all time," she squeaked, and searched through her purse for a pen and a piece of paper.
Stone smirked slightly. It grew into a full-grown smile, and he started to chuckle. Then he saw the look on the Devil's face, and he burst into full-fledge laughter. Suddenly, he had the sensation of presque vu, and what he saw made him laugh even harder. By the time he had himself under control again the Devil had already gotten rid of the woman.
"I get it," he gasped between bursts of laughter. "I understand why you were God's favorite before you fell."
The Devil was rather taken aback. "What are you talking about?"
Stone just shook his head and said, "Forget it." How could he explain? It sounded so stupid, and yet Stone could tell that it was the truth. God has a sense of humor.
James/John Jeckyll: Love! Valour! Compassion! (Rent it. Now. Right this minute. It's just that good.)
Bryce Cummings: Scrooged
Dr. Jason Woodrue: Batman and Robin
Mr. Clamp: Gremlins 2
John Glover: real life
There were some inside jokes in the "Clamp" section. Dick Wagner is a diminutive form of Richard Wagner, the great composer. Dotty Evski is, of course, a reference to Dosteovski (sp?). Say "RUOK" out loud. "Valco" is a company I made up as a joke once, and now every story I write is a "Valco" production. The avid fan is a parody of one of my friends, to whom I deeply apologize.