Dawn was half-asleep when Mephisto burst into the room. His usually calm manner was gone: he looked furious.
"Where is he?" he snapped. She had jerked awake and instinctively pulled away from him.
"Who?" she asked.
"You know perfectly well who!" he growled.
Her confused look convinced him that she had not been the one to help his wayward son escape. He reasoned, eventually, that she and the baby would have gotten away as well. She herself could not teleport between the realms.
"Great…now I have to track him down again."
Dawn's heart began to thunder.
"Daemon's gone?" she asked.
"Daemon, Blackheart, whatever the Hell you want to call him, yes he's gone. Happy?"
She didn't dare tell Mephisto that she was, but she contained her joyous yell in her thoughts.
"He left without you, you know. I took his soul and you probably don't mean very much to him other than power," the Devil said.
Dawn frowned as he left and locked the door behind her. Mephisto marched away, grinning. He knew that Blackheart had escaped, and as far as he was concerned, the boy was no longer a threat. Without his soul, Blackheart was sure to return to his formerly evil ways. Now that he had planted that seed of insecurity into Dawn's heart, he was certain that she'd actually become more cooperative. It was a good thing that he didn't know what was going on inside of her.
The spinning orb of color drifted through the dark abyss. It carefully avoided the flames, moving past the very deepest reaches of the icy canyon. It drifted, lost, alone, and confused. The light was flickering and fading. It didn't belong here. Perhaps it had once, but it had changed.
A man appeared out of the darkness. Both hands were bleeding profusely. A bad wound in his side was bleeding profusely. His forehead was scraped with thousands of little scratches, but this man was not broken. A fierce light, intense and focused, radiated from his dark eyes. He stretched his hand towards the flickering ball of light.
"Come to me, my lamb," he whispered, "let us leave this cold, dark place and rejoin the flock."
The colored orb obeyed, eagerly floating into his hand. He opened his mouth, wide, and stuffed it in. His body glowed for a moment before he melted away into the darkness again.
Blackheart was burning with fever. Unsure of what to do, Johnny Blaze had done everything he could think of to cool the former demon down, but nothing seemed to be working. He knew why: this was no ordinary sickness. It was a sickness of the soul, something that couldn't be healed with mortal means. In the past half hour, Blackheart had thrown up at least three times. He was now coughing up blood and his breath was uneven and ragged. Blaze watched over him from the side of the tub—he'd put him in there in hopes that the cool water would soothe the fever.
"Why did it have to be you?" he asked bitterly. As much as he wanted to, he couldn't hate him. The hatred was gone, replaced by a weariness. He knew what Blackheart wanted him to do, but he hadn't actually done it yet. He was too concerned about the dying demon. If Dawn and Treasure had what the devil himself wanted, they were probably unharmed and would remain so.
The flash of light took him by surprise, so much so that Zatharos burst forth like an explosion.
"Peace, my friend," the voice said, "I came here to help you both."
Blaze's face reappeared, startled.
"Quite a predicament, isn't it?" the dark-haired man said, "But that's what I do best—get people through them."
Blaze's eyes locked on the man's scarred hands.
"No…" he gasped.
"One of my many names," Jesus answered with an amused smile. He quickly lifted Blackheart's head out of the water before his face could get submerged.
"There isn't much time. You know what to do. I will take care of this one," Jesus told him.
As many things as he wanted to say, Blaze didn't and couldn't argue. He hopped on his motorcycle. Puzzled as to where he was supposed to go, he looked back towards the house.
"Just up ahead!" Jesus called, "I will open the door for you!"
Sure enough, a dark ovular swirl appeared. Blaze morphed into Zatharos again, feeling like he would blend in better down there as a demon. The motorcycle burst into flame and he disappeared into the darkness. The door closed behind him, as it would be bad news if demons started escaping. Jesus turned back to Blackheart. He exhaled a white mist. The swirling colored orb appeared out of it and shot down Blackheart's throat. The ex-demon coughed noisily and opened his eyes.
"Where am I?" he groaned.
"You're still in Johnny Blaze's home," Jesus explained, "and he has just gone through the portal."
"I have to go help him," Blackheart said, reaching for a towel.
"No. You will stay here and rest. Your body is still very weak from the separation. You won't survive down there."
"But Blaze can," Blackheart argued.
"Yes, he can, but only because of Zatharos," Jesus informed him, "he is protected by the demon within. An odd twist in my Father's plan for him, but I don't question Him. He obviously knows what he's doing even if we don't. Now, then…there is a certain companion of yours who has missed you terribly."
Right on cue, they heard noisy barking from outside.
"Squishie came back," Blackheart said with a faint smile, "she always was a stubborn little thing."
"ARF ARF!" Squishie demanded, scratching at the door. Blackheart clumsily dried himself off and wrapped the towel around his waist. He let her in and was promptly assaulted with wet doggy kisses. It was hard to believe he'd ever despised her. Holding the furry, wriggly creature in his arms made him feel slightly better. Jesus stroked her head as well.
"I sent her to Dawn in a time of absolute darkness," Jesus explained, "when she was feeling utterly alone. Before she believed in me. She couldn't see good in the world, only blackness. Some people who claim to follow me had been very unkind to her for her lack of belief and she chose to turn her back, saying if my people were that way, then she wanted nothing to do with me. However, dogs are a lot more forgiving in most cases. They love unconditionally and are intensely loyal. She began to see our Father's presence in Squishie and the spark of belief took hold. It was because of this little dog that her whole life changed."
"Arf!" Squishie agreed.
"Will she be all right?" Blackheart asked dejectedly.
"It may not seem so right now, but have faith. You won't always see me, but I am there with you."
He chose that moment to disappear, but his presence lingered. Blackheart hugged the little dog to his chest, taking comfort in her warm fuzziness.
"I was never good at waiting," he lamented, "and I'm going to be terrible at it tonight."