Brimstone and Ashes
by Danii
Summary: One of the Damned have a score to settle with a certain clerk in Deerborn.
Distribution: Anyone who wants it. Please take it.
Disclaimer: I own no one here, though I'd mortgage my house to get the cop or the clerk. But it wouldn't be wise to bargain with a certain someone for the cop, would it?
Rating: PG13 (language)
Feedback: PLEASE!!! I need it!!!

And now:

"Wake up, Stone..."

I've gotten used to sleeping alone in a cold bed inside of an even colder apartment. I've gotten used to waking up to the sound of an alarm clock instead of to the voice of the woman I love, and I've even gotten used to not sleeping at all. But never, till the day that I...er...never will I get used to the voice of the Devil whispering in my ear for me to get the hell out of bed and get back to work. I'll also never get to like it. And he knows that.

So when I turned to him with my normal expression of loathing and aggravation, all he had to give back to me was his constant sly smile.

"Morning..." I grumbled to the self-proclaimed (and rightly so) King of the big nasty burny place down south, which earned me an even wider smile. Goody.

"Chipper this morning, I can see..." he commented with a smirk, "And that's good. Means you're up and ready to go. Ready to get a few more of my little lost souls, eh?"

Tiredly, I looked up and raised an eyebrow to the only other being in the room. "Yeah. Sure."

"Oh, buck up, Ezekiel!" the Devil exclaimed with a pat on the bed as he got up and circled around to face me, "Don't think of it as a job...think of it as the opportunity that it really is! How many souls get this kind of chance, do you think?"

I answered this question by getting out of bed and grunting. True, I wasn't really that groggy, but old habits die hard...harder than even I did.

"How eloquent..." said the Devil with another grin at me. Damn, but I hate that stupid grin. "Makes me glad that I picked you..."

"Thanks..." I muttered, meaning it just SO much.

"Yes, well...now that you mention it-"

"I didn't."

"Well, I just did," the Devil continued, as if I hadn't said a thing, "There's a soul about to wreak havoc a little farther away than the normal. All the way in Michigan, in fact."

This turned my head. Usually, I practically ran into the Damned. I almost never had to actively seek them out, at least not in the travel-hundreds-of-miles way. So obviously there was something strange about my newest 'hunt'. Something that was important to my so called 'employer'

"What's so special about this one that I'll be traveling?" I asked, genuinely curious. I knew that, just like any other collector whose lost his 'gems', the Devil had ones that he especially wanted back. And I knew that he wouldn't make me go to such distances without good reason. So I wanted to know what I was up against.

My answer was silence, which told me that this one was very important. He never wants to tell me about the really painful ones...like Ashur. Or if he does, he blusters and shouts to cover up just how much it bothers him. And I usually leave him alone about it, since, as much I don't like him, I kinda feel for him.

I mean, sure, he's the Devil. Satan. The Great Serpent. The King of Hell, Lucifer, the Beast. But he didn't start that way. At first, he had a cushy spot up in Heaven as one of God's most trusted, and then he disagreed with the Big Guy, which caused him to get tossed down to his current accomidations. Yeah, my friend here was the one who screwed up, but for a God who says so much about forgiveness, He was pretty harsh.

Especially since, as my friend has said before, God was the only thing he ever loved.

However, I knew that, despite these considerations, I needed to get more information on my most recent assignment. So, gently, perhaps more gently then I've ever spoken to him, I asked.

"What's so special about this one?"

But he again didn't answer, prefering to get up and walk around my apartment like some demented Sherlock Holmes who can't find release in his violin. Then he turned to me, that familiar grin back on his face, yet somehow not right. Not real. For the first time since I'd seen it, the Devil's grin had no joy in it.

"She was one of the most depraved souls in the 113..." he said quietly, his voice lacking the bravado and glee it usually held when talking to me, "A truly sick little harlot. Her name I can't even remember, but during her time on earth, she was tainted-"

"Tainted?" I asked as I grabbed my shirt from off of the chair it had been resting on.

"Yes, tainted," he answered me patiently, "I know it's going to crush your enormous ego, my fine dead detective, but there are far more things in Heaven and Hell than even you know about...things that are so dark, even I try not to think of them."

"What? Some sort of Super-Boogeyman?"

"Worse, Ezekiel..." the Devil told me, completely serious, "Much worse. Things that should never have been released in this reality."

Now he had me confused. What was he talking about? Boogeymen, alternate realities? Where was he going with all of this? And why was he taking so long to tell me. Usually he quips, tells me just the bare basics, then leaves.

"Anyway," he continued as if the whole mini-conversation had never happened, "She seemed fine for a while after her experience, but after a while began to go mad over being 'betrayed' as she saw it, by her lover. This madness became worse and worse, and as it ran it's course, she succeeded in killing every soul she knew, saying that they were all accomplaces to her lover's schemes. More than 200 people lost to her wrath."

I raised an eyebrow. "Yeah? And? I've heard, and dealt with, worse."

Now the Devil shook his head. "No, my friend, you have not. I'm not going to tell you any more abou it, though, despite my own urges to do so. All I will do is wish you luck, and lead you to where you should be going."

"Which is?" I asked, back to my sarcasm and annoyance. If he could go back to normal, so could I.

"Deerborn, Michigan." he told me a grin on his face, but without one in his voice. Then he disappeared.

I shrugged to no one imparticular, then got my pants on. However, after brushing my teeth and running my hand through the fuzz I refer to as my hair, I realized something.

"How the hell am I supposed to get to Michigan?"