Rating: Blue Cortina for crack and language
Spoilers: nothing comes to mind, but let me know.
A/N: I know that this is late, but it's probably April 29th somewhere :) This has been kicking around for a while, I was just waiting for the right time to post it. Beated by sytaxia. I hope when you guys read this fic, you have some sympathy, it gave me a hell of a time ;)
Sam was walking to the elevator with some files for the collators, when the doors opened, and a man stepped out. His hair was slicked back, and he was dressed in neat white suit, so new the creases could have cut through the air. He looked just like the sort of man that the girls in the canteen would swoon over. He idly reflected that it must be one of Litton's lot. Then he looked up, and Sam saw his eyes....
Brimstone, heat, flames, fire!
He looked away, blinking furiously. 'Hi,' The Man said, smiling, and walked past him. Sam whirled to follow him, hand outstretched.
'Stop right there!'
The man stopped, a pleasant, yet confused look on his face. 'I'm sorry, have I done something, officer?'
'You don't belong in here, this area is...' he faltered, uncertain, 'For, for authorized personnel only!' He folded his arms.
The Man looked at him, amused, and walked back to where he was standing. 'Cute. Give them some pointy sticks and free will, and they think they can tell anyone anything. Well, listen up, and listen good, kid,' The Man leaned over, whispering in his ear, 'You don't scare me. So do yourself a favor, and get scarce, savvy?'
Sam swallowed, saying nothing. Every part of him was screaming to get away, run.
But he stood his ground instead.
The man shook his head, taking out a cigarette and lighting it with a match. He exhaled with a look of enjoyment.
'Did you know that matches are more recent then lighters? Yeh, there were some early attempts, but the first real match was invented in 1827. They were originally "Congreves" but clearer heads prevailed, and they became "Lucifers." They were so convenient, sooo simple to use, that soon, everyone was lighting up. Then some Frenchman added white phosphorus to 'em, to cut the smell. But he added so much, that one,' and he held his index finger, 'One pack of matches, could kill a man. Not to mention all the people who died making them.'
He gazed reflectively into space. 'I miss those days.' He cocked his head to the side. 'Tell me, Detective Inspector, what do you know about evil?'
He returned his gaze as calmly as possible. 'Enough to know it when I see it.'
The Man laughed then, a loud and long, pointing at Sam with his cigarette hand. 'Who do you think you are, kiddo? What, just because you carry a badge, sorry, a "warrant card," you think you're imbued with a fiery sword or somethin'?'
'I'll go see what I can dig out of stores.'
The smile on the man's face flickered. 'You're starting to test my patience, kiddo. Foolhardy and arrogant will only get you so far.'
Sam nodded, narrowing his eyes. 'Yeh, you would know.'
The eyes looking into his widened and he tried to look away, but the pupils got larger and darker and he thought he could feel the flames burning his skin..
'Oi, Goldilocks! Do I 'ave to leave a trail of bread crumbs layin' around? 'S eight a clock, get yer skinny arse in 'ere!' Sam winced as Gene thundered down the hallway. It couldn't have been any of the others, could it? Oh no. It had to be Gene, because Gene was gonna bollocks it up.
Seeing The Man, the DCI came to a halt, glaring at him, and then the
glare softened into a look of...
What? Fear maybe?
'...Don't I know you?'
The Man smiled. 'We've met, in passing. May have even shaken hands.'
Gene sniffed at that, pulling himself up to his full height. 'Don't think so Liberace.'
'Are you sure?' The Man's tone was mocking.
'Yeah,' he sneered. ' 'Cause I would've lathered up with bleach afterwards, for fear of fleas and other unwonted parasites.' Sam couldn't help but admire him, even as he feared for him.
The Man seemed nearly ready to burst into flame, but then he relaxed.
'It's been a long time since I've had someone to challenge me. Let's make this interesting.' He looked frankly at the two of them. 'Do you know who I am?'
Sam shot him a look of pure hate and fear. 'Yeah. You're the De-'
He felt a hand clamped down on his arm. Looking at his DCI, he saw his Guv shake his head before stepping forward.
It was not beyond Sam's notice that doing so shielded him from The Man's gaze.
'We know who you are, an' what you are. But names...have power. Don't they?' He cocked his head, almost smiling.
The Man gritted his teeth. 'You're smarter then you look, Gene.'
'Flattery won't get you far, sunshine. What's your game?' He reached for his packet of Marlboro's, shaking one out and putting it in his mouth.
The Man shook his head in wonder.
'You know, most people would be pissing themselves soon as look at me, but you two....stand tall. Square up. Huh... it's kind of....annoying. But also, kinda...interesting, a novelty. So I'll make a bet with you.'
'What kind of bet?' Sam asked, folding his arms.
'We'll have a game, a test if you will. You win, you get to go with your lives, nothing changed. I win-'
'You get our souls?' Sam guessed.
The man laughed. 'What would I do with those? If I wanted a soul, I could get it anywhere. No.
If I win, you come to work for me.'
The DI and the DCI exchanged glances. Sam knew that whatever The Man was here for, it wasn't for anything good (understatement of the year). He could see that the Guv was thinking it too, that they couldn't just stand by.
'Fine, good.' Sam said, nodding.
'Yeh, let's get on with it then.' Gene agreed.
The Man rubbed his hands gleefully. 'Right! Since there are two of you, I think we should have two challenges: Strength and Wits. Who'll go first?'
'That'll be me Lou.' Gene said before Sam even had a chance to open his mouth.
The Man winced slightly. 'Don't call me that.'
'Have to call yer something.'
Sam shot his DCI a wry smile. 'Dunno how you can joke at a time like this.'
'Easy when you know how Sammy boy.'
'Round One! Let's give it up for the Caped Crusader!' "Lou" said mockingly, bowing to an imaginary crowd.
'I'm tougher than that, you nancy git,' Gene said mildly, as Sam helped him off with his coat. 'So watch yourself.'
Lou smirked. 'Watch myself? Kiddo, I'm not even going to break a sweat dealing with you.'
'Well my name might not be Jacob, but I reckon I can give you sommat to think about.' he retorted, rolling up his sleeves.
'Jacob?' Sam puzzled as Gene readied himself.
'You know....wrestled with an angel.'
'I'm... shocked, Guv.'
'What, that I know the Good Book?'
'Nah, that you read.' Sam winked at him, despite the dryness of his throat. For all Gene's bluster and bluff, he could tell the other man was nervous.
'I'm ready when you are, Hunt, unless the two of you want to flirt some more,' Lou said.
'Readier then a bull in summer,' Gene said, snorting.
Without warning, Lou moved across the room, faster than his eyes could follow, slapping Gene hard across the mouth, the crack of it heard across the hall. Why hasn't anyone come by yet? Don't they notice something's happening? Sam thought.
On the other hand, maybe it was better they didn't.
Gene straightened shakily, rubbing his face with the back of his hand. 'My turn now, Brucie Lee.'
'Oh, please, I'm much better than that poser.' The Man retorted.
Gene moved, stepping up like a boxer, hands up in hard fists.
He let loose a with a strong swing, but Lou ducked under his arm and punched him in the gut, almost bending him in half. He straightened up with painful slowness, only to receive another blow to the face, this time with the fingers closed and hard. The DCI fell to one knee.
'Come on now, copper, don't give up on me now!'
The DCI lashed out with his other leg, hitting Lou's kneecap straight on, making the leg bend in a way it wasn't supposed to go in. He grinned bloodily as he lurched to his feet. 'I'm just getting warmed up, petal!'
'You'll pay for that, Hunt,' the other man hissed through his teeth. As he came to his feet, he let out a yell, diving at him, making them both hit the ground with a thud, and a cracking sound. The Man sat on top of him, grabbing his shirt with both hands and hammering away at Gene's face. It sounding like a mallet hitting meat.
'Gene! Come on Gene, get up!'
'This wreck couldn't get it up with a bottle of Viagra! Not that it matters, it not being invented yet,' Lou mocked as he slammed his hand down again, only to have it blocked and pushed away.
Gene sat up, rolling so that the man was under him, pinning him with his weight. He struggled, but Gene had him, well and truly, arms pinned by hands as strong as oak roots.
'Let me up, you fat bastard!'
'Yeah, pull the other one sunshine, 's got bells on.' Gene hocked and spat out some blood onto the floor, his breath rasping in his throat.
'Fine then, round one is yours. Now let me up!'
'Not a chance!'
Lou rippled, writhing under the Guv's hands, and now He was the one on top, crushing the breath out of the other man. Gene gasped, and clawed at him, only to be crushed down all the more.
'Say "goodnight Gracie".' The Man growled, and pulled back his fist.
He paused, hand in the air.
'What about me?' Sam spoke up. 'You haven't had my challenge yet.'
'No problem, I'm almost done here.'
'But that's cheating!'
Lou smiled delightedly. 'Yeah. It's just so....traditional, y'know?'
He pulled back his hand again.
'Fine then, go ahead. But that's not the way to really hurt him.'
Lou paused. 'What do you mean?'
Sam held up a flask. 'D'you know what this is? Eleven year old single malt.'
Gene grunted and tried to move, stopped only by a knee pushing on his chest.
'And why give it to me?'
'Because it's not a free offer. I help you humiliate Gene, while he lies there, broken, defeated, and you let me go. Deal?'
The Man hummed thoughtfuly, and Sam held his breath, waiting.
Sam walked towards him, holding out the flask gingerly. Lou snatched it up, and gulped it down with gusto.
'Mmm mm! That is a good drop indeed!'
Gene's bruised face glared up at Sam, who stood there like a stone.
'Oh this is just delicious!' Lou closed his eyes in a parody of ecstasy, mouth open for more.
Which is when Sam made his move.
Quick as a flash, he was at his side, dropping something glittering into the open mouth and then clamping his hand over it. The Man's eyes snapped open, and he started to claw and bite at the arm now holding him firm.
' Chea'ing!' he half howled, arching his back in agony.
'As some other bastard once said: it's traditional.'
Lou snarled and shifted in his grasp, tearing and ripping at him. But even through the pain, Sam held tight, refusing to let go even when the body started to hiss and boil. With a final blood rending howl, the Man vanished into a nasty haze of black smoke, leaving something shining to fall with a "clink" to the ground.
'Guess I won round two.' Sam said, swaying slightly as he picked up it up. He hobbled over to where Gene was still lying, and reached down to help him up. It was a measure of how drained the other man was by the fact that he offered no snide remarks. Propping him up against the wall, Sam pulled the Malboro's out of the camel hair pocket, lit one, and held it out to his Guv. After a pause, Gene brought up a shaking hand and grabbed it, taking a deep puff.
Sam nodded wordlessly, nursing his hurt arm.
'What did y' do to 'im.'
Sam grinned. 'Missing something?'
He held up the shining thing he'd picked up off the floor. The DCI squinted at it.
'It's your St. Michael's medal, the one you wear around your neck? Swiped it when I was helping you off with your coat.'
The other man's eyes widened and he gave a snort of laughter before it dissolved into coughs. Sam helped steady him.
' 'ow'd you know?'
The DI smiled.
'Well, you know...one of the principal angels, fought with the devil, war-cry of heaven... thought it might work.'
'Not what I mean'.'
'Sorry, what did you mean?'
' 'ow'd you know...it'd work?'
He ducked his head sheepishly.
Gene looked at him in disbelief.
'It's not like I'm not a priest or a rabbi you know, I was just guessing - what?'
The last was said because Gene had started to chuckle. Sam just looked at him, frowning. The chuckles turned into laughter, and the laughter turned into hysterical whoops of relief.
After a moment, Sam joined in.