characters: Fiore, DeBlanc, Eugene Root
genre:fix-it fic, R
warnings: implied violence, mild gore
story summary: set immediately post season one
The shuttle bus pulled away and Fiore felt his heart go with it. His last chance at finding DeBlanc again was driving off, fading into the hazy horizon.
If DeBlanc was even still alive.
That was the worst part of it all—the horrible uncertainty. DeBlanc had been so calm. Maddeningly calm. Genesis had left them, abandoned them for that preacher with the terrible hair. They'd run out of options. They needed someone strong enough to kill the preacher, and in so doing leave Genesis with no choice but to go back where he belonged. So they'd sought out a soul angry enough to do just that. A cowboy with guns that could kill anything. A new angel of death.
The whole time, DeBlanc had stayed calm—voice steady as they boarded the bus, no hesitation when they stepped into Hell, no trace of fear when they found the soul, whose rage was so inhuman, so all-consuming, Hell had literally frozen around him.
But meeting that soul face to face had filled Fiore with a sense of dread he hadn't felt since the day they realized God had left Heaven. And now, thanks to them, that dreadful soul was walking the Earth, hunting the preacher. Hunting Genesis, whom they'd sworn to protect.
Fiore looked at his trunk of earthly belongings and sighed. It was too bulky and heavy to carry himself, and anyway, where would he go? So he sat, watching the sandy soil blow across the road. A strip of black in the middle of nowhere. He'd never felt so alone.
The gunshot wasn't unexpected, and it was quick, nearly painless. But in that moment, as DeBlanc started to fall, he felt something he'd never experienced before—not in all his eons of existence; a terrifying sense of finality. His life was being extinguished, for good. His last thought was, "I'm sorry, Fiore." He hadn't wanted him to go through this alone.
But then DeBlanc's eyes opened again, after all. It didn't feel like a normal reinvigoration, rather more like the opposite—a dredged-up kind of feeling, like struggling for air with a perforated windpipe. DeBlanc had to blink a few times before his vision settled on his surroundings. A bedroom—fluffy white carpet, a shiny lacquered vanity, a pale pink bed, and two people—two kids on it who were... DeBlanc pushed himself to his feet, looked at the shotgun, the grisly mess of sheets, and the bodies on them. "Still in Hell, then."
He turned and moved towards the bedroom door, stepping over a spilled bottle of Coca-Cola. "You're not supposed to be here," said a slurred voice from behind him.
"Actually, I—" DeBlanc started to say as he turned back.
The kid staring back at him was missing most of the lower half of his face. But as DeBlanc watched, the skin stitched itself together—sloppy, a crude round hole of a mouth. "You've never been here before," the kid said, stepping towards him.
"I was here before," DeBlanc said. "Just not here, not in your hell." He looked around, at the walls of the small room, the closed door, and back at the kid. "Not sure why I'm here, to be honest."
But the kid wasn't listening to him. He was staring up at the ceiling, eyes going wide. "I know! I know," he said. "I will." Then he shoved past DeBlanc and yanked open the door, behind which, of course, was another identical bedroom. In this one, the girl was still alive. She saw the kid and smiled, holding out the bottle of soda. But he backed away, slammed the door shut and grabbed DeBlanc by the shoulders. "Do you know the way out?"
"You're joking, right?"
"I have to get out. I have to go back," he said, panicked. "Don't you hear him?"
DeBlanc nodded, slow, "You're Eugene."
"That's me." He smiled, eyes crinkling. But the smile vanished just as quickly and he stared back up at the ceiling. "There! Did you hear him?" He moved to the wall and started pounding against it, like he was looking for a hollow spot.
Of course, DeBlanc hadn't heard a thing, but he had no doubt Eugene was still hearing it—a command from Genesis was relentless. It couldn't be ignored, not by anyone. And then, he realized why he'd appeared here. Why he'd been brought to this particular person's hell. Clever boy, he thought, smiling. Genesis was giving him a way out. A way back. Back to earth, back to Fiore, back to his life. He clasped Eugene on the shoulder and said, "It's your lucky day, kid."
"I don't really have those," Eugene said, without even turning around.
DeBlanc watched him pound the wall uselessly for a few more seconds, then stepped up next to him and kicked, hard. Making a nice-sized, boot-shaped hole in the wall. "Well, now you do."
Eugene dropped to his knees and started pulling at the plaster and plywood, making the hole bigger. DeBlanc squatted down and helped.
It didn't take them long before they'd widened the hole enough to squeeze through, which got them out of Eugene's technicolor nightmare and into the bowels of Hell. Getting out of Eugene's hell was doable; getting out of Hell itself was a different story. Normally, even demons needed permission before a door would open. But Genesis—Genesis could show them the way.
Eugene broke into a jog, started running down the narrow hallway, following turns and bends with the careless haste of a man driven. "I heard you! I know, I know," Eugene muttered under his breath as he paused by a six way intersection. He turned to DeBlanc, adding, "Sorry, I just—I just wish he'd shut up."
"We all do." DeBlanc looked at the different paths ahead of him, watched as Eugene took a hesitant step forward and then began to run again, down one of the paths to their left. Hell was constantly in flux; it never looked the same for more than a few minutes. That's why navigating through it was impossible.
DeBlanc followed him, refusing to jog, but walking briskly. "Stop!" a gravelly voice said, from just around the bend. DeBlanc hurried a bit more, and found Eugene with his arms in the air, a broadsword pointed at his chest. The sword was being wielded by a large demon with goat hooves, short stubby horns, and two sets of bile-green eyes. DeBlanc sighed, then stepped up beside Eugene. "Beelzebub?"
The demon squinted, then lowered the sword slightly, so it rested at Eugene's waist instead. "DeBlanc? I haven't seen you in--how long's it been?"
"Too long," DeBlanc said, through a forced smile.
"What are you wearing?"
"Oh this, it's um...for my undercover work. Deep undercover."
"Oh..." Beelzebub's upper set of eyes widened. The lower ones, bulbous as they were, couldn't widen any more. "That explains it. Was wondering where you were. There's been rumors, you know, nasty ones."
"What a surprise."
"I didn't believe any of them of course. I said, 'Not DeBlanc, he's no traitor. Taught me everything he knows!'"
"It's good to see you again, B," DeBlanc said, and he meant it, too. Of all the guards to run into, Beelzebub was the least likely to actually kill them.
"Want to help me bring this one back to his cell?" He jabbed at Eugene, who, aside from a mild tremor and some sweat on his brow, didn't seem much worse for wear. Yet.
"Ah, no can do." DeBlanc pushed the sword away.
"Huh? Why not?"
"Because I'm escorting him." He nudged Eugene, waited for him to drop his arms and then grabbed him by the elbow. "Confidential, you understand."
"Not really, but okay." Beelzebub slid his sword into his scabbard. Then he shook his head, and drew his sword again. "No wait, this isn't right."
Damn, DeBlanc thought, preparing for a fight.
"You can't just take him out of here. Show me his transfer-papers."
"Transfer-papers?" Hell loved paperwork. Oodles of it for everyone, from the lowest imp to the highest demon prince. They all had to do their paperwork. "No. He doesn't have any."
"Well then, I gotta bring you both in," Beelzebub pointed the sword at DeBlanc's chest. "Or I'll be in big trouble."
"No," DeBlanc pushed the sword down again. "You'll be in far bigger trouble if you bring us in." He lowered his voice. "Check his ID."
Beelzebub's lower eyes glowed red as he checked Eugene up and down, scanning for his ID tag. "Where is it?"
"He doesn't have one." DeBlanc said, smiling secretively. "Because he's not supposed to be here, see?"
"See what?" Beelzebub blinked as his eyes returned to their normal green.
"He's off the records for a reason."
"I'd better check with the boss."
DeBlanc grabbed the demon's meaty shoulder. "You don't want to do that, trust me."
"No...I'm pretty sure I should."
"I understand." DeBlanc kept his voice steady. He hadn't lost yet. "By all means, don't let me tell you how to do your job."
Beelzebub gave him a wary look as he moved to one of the walls and put his hand against the surface. An old rotary phone emerged from the wall.
"Plus, I'm sure you've got a great working relationship with the big guy. He probably won't even mind that you're seriously delaying a high priority, top-secret mission."
Beelzebub's hand hovered over the receiver. "Actually, I've never had to call him before."
"Oh, well, I'm sure it'll be fine." DeBlanc said, ignoring Eugene's renewed muttering. "Not like he's known for losing his temper, or anything."
With an audible swallow, Beelzebub stepped away from the phone like it was about to bite him, and stammered, "Yeah I'd--I'd better not interrupt him." He grinned stiffly at DeBlanc, baring enormous, sharp teeth. "Good luck on your mission."
"Thanks, I'll need it." DeBlanc took Eugene by the shoulder and pulled him past Beelzebub. They walked, casually at first, until Eugene got that frenzied look in his eyes back, and began to hurry again. They wove through the corridors, faster and faster, until DeBlanc started to think that maybe this was their hell--trapped forever, with the promise of escape, just out of reach. But then, Eugene stopped in his tracks, cocked his head to the side and said, "Here. It's louder here."
DeBlanc followed his gaze--he was staring at a patch of wall that looked like termite-riddled wood paneling, for the moment. Together, they began to tear it apart; the panels broke off easily, and behind them was a tunnel, just large enough for the both of them. The tunnel led to stairs, that squished wetly beneath their feet. Up they climbed, for what felt like hours, until Eugene stopped with an "Ow."
"There's--I think this is the ground."
"Is it now?" DeBlanc raised his hand and pushed against the ceiling. Bits and pieces of soil and pebbles rained down onto his face. "I think you're right." He dug his fingers in and scooped out a handful of earth.
Soon they were covered in soil, digging blindly, pushing up and up and up. And then--there was light. Sunlight and the tiniest fleck of blue sky. Eugene's motions became more frantic and DeBlanc pushed him onwards, forced him out through the earth and into the wide open. DeBlanc squinted against the sky and followed him out, staggering back onto land.
"Oh no. No, no, no..." Eugene said, his voice low and panicked. "This isn't right. This is where he called me from, why isn't he--what happened to the church?"
"This is the church," DeBlanc said, surveying the broken planks of white wood and the splintered pews. "What's left of it."
"What—what happened here?" Eugene asked. His eyes were red-lined and watery. "I gotta find my dad!" He climbed over the rubble and corpses and broke into a sloppy jog, shouting, "Dad! Dad? Anybody?"
DeBlanc watched him leave and let out a sigh. "Genesis happened." He shook his head. His heart ached, just saying the name. And of course, thinking of Genesis made him think of Fiore, and then his heart hurt even more. He closed his eyes and listened, let his senses cast a wide net, focused on the silence all around him, until he heard the sound—light bells and a soft hum—something hopeful and sad at the same time. It was that sound that had drawn him in countless ages ago—the sound of Fiore. He'd traveled through dimensions to find him then. His song was more sorrowful now, barely any hope left—but he was still Fiore. DeBlanc stepped over a severed and charred leg, headed out of the rubble, and towards the road, following the song.
'POW!' 'BAMF!' Fiore sighed as he turned the page, skimming the next four panels. This had been one of his favorite issues, ever since he'd discovered the existence of comic books. But today, not even the Caped Crusader could take his mind off of things. He closed the issue, slid it carefully into its plastic sleeve, then went back to staring out across the road into the empty landscape. It looked exactly how he felt inside—barren and lifeless. Without DeBlanc, without Genesis, he felt no drive, no need to do anything or go anywhere. And what were his options really? He couldn't go back to Heaven, and there was no way for him to get back into Hell. Not by himself.
He swallowed down another wave of despair, and decided to try an issue of Superman instead. But as he stood to open the trunk, he caught a glimpse of a figure on the horizon, walking down the road. He straightened to his full height, and stared until he could make out details. A hat, a suit, boots...he squinted more, extending his vision as far as he could in this earth-bound body—but yes, that was a turquoise bolo tie, and—Fiore started walking, then running, faster, as fast as he could, and so did the figure coming towards him.
DeBlanc was grinning, and let out something very much like a squeak when Fiore scooped him up into his arms. "You were dead," Fiore said, voice muffled from where his mouth was pressed against DeBlanc's cheek. He set him back down and looked him in the eyes, and he didn't even care that he was crying.
"I got better," DeBlanc said, wiping a tear from Fiore's cheek.
"I thought I'd lost you. Forever."
"Can't get rid of me that easy," DeBlanc said.
"I don't want to be rid of you. Not ever." Fiore took DeBlanc's hand, to assure himself again that he was really there. "How did you get back? How did you survive—I thought everyone he kills—"
"—stays dead." DeBlanc shrugged. "I thought I heard a voice, calling me back. Maybe I imagined it."
"Maybe you did. Maybe you didn't." Fiore kissed him on the forehead. "I don't care."
DeBlanc nodded. "We made a mistake, Fiore. That soul we brought back—he's not just going to kill the preacher, he's going to kill our son."
"We have to stop him."
DeBlanc took Fiore's hand. "We need a plan."
"Planning's not my strong suit."
"What if we warn him?"
"Maybe...we'd need to find him first."
"We'll need a car."
"Don't think we're going to find one here," Fiore said, looking up the empty road.
"We'll find one," DeBlanc said. They moved to the trunk and lifted it together, with practiced ease, then started walking up the highway. Fiore began to hum, something more hopeful than sad, and DeBlanc smiled and hummed with him.