Tangible Schizophrenia


Ignis Fatuus

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: NC-17. Some bondage.
Pairing: John/Balthazar.
Feedback: Good lines, typos, etc.
Disclaimer: These characters were not originally created by me.
Notes: Title is Latin for ‘foolish fire’ or ‘will o’ the wisp.’ The extra bit with Chas at the end of the movie implies that mortals can become angels (and presumably demons) after death; the movie also never states what Balthazar’s actual age is. Balthazar Gracián y Morales was a real person, but I’m just borrowing his last name and mean to cast no aspersions of any kind on the historical figure whatsoever.
Summary: Satirical blah blah, not really a plot. John sneezes the wrong way.


John was trawling in an L. A. library’s newspaper archive, looking for information on an entirely different case, when he found it. He’d been taking a breath at the time and it caught crossways in his throat so he nearly fell into the rack with his coughing. It was almost like having lung cancer again, except the pain and disbelief were offset by his sheer…glee. There really wasn’t any other way to define it.

Once he’d recovered, he took a couple good, long looks about himself. This section was completely deserted, with not even a librarian to give him nasty stares so he’d think twice about dying all over the precious materials. Satisfied, John carefully creased around the article, then ripped it out. He left a little smear of cigarette ash in the space behind it so anyone not in the know would still see the newspaper as if the missing obit was still there.

The article went into his pocket, John went out of the library, and a cigarette went between his lips. He could feel his mouth smiling as he lit up. That was dangerous since it invited all sorts of hell to ruin his day, but for once, he didn’t give a shit. This was just too good. Too good.

He really had to share it with someone, but ten minutes’ standing around on the library steps reminded John that nobody who’d fully understand the humor was around. Beeman and Hennessey had kicked the bucket, Ellie was out of town till Saturday, and Midnite would get the joke, but wouldn’t laugh. Hell, if he ever did, his face might break.

It really was sad, John thought. Sad, and for a second, stinging under his skin, but he’d shrugged off that feeling by the time his smoke was half-gone. Oh, well. It was a little nice to have something all to himself for once.

* * *

Later on, once he’d had his daily dose of being beaten to shit and had delivered a couple daily doses in return, he sat down on his bed with a beer and took off his jacket. That went on the side of the bed, but he dragged it back a moment later and picked out the article to read it again. John couldn’t help snickering a couple times. Typical obit hyperbole, but it gained so much new meaning once he’d filled in the background info.

He absently reached over for his beer with his cigarette hand, but both sides of his hand bumped into glass. John almost looked over, but then remembered the other one was something he’d confiscated from the cut-rate mambo yesterday and hadn’t yet taken down to Midnite’s. He felt around till he found the bottle with the damp rim, which he figured had to be his beer.

But when John grabbed it, something hot brushed over his hand so he jerked it away. He got off the bed and looked around, then laughed: the ash from his cigarette must’ve fallen off and into the bottle, and it’d hit his fingers on the way down. A waste of a good half-bottle of beer, but John was still so amused that he didn’t care too much. He picked up the bottle and wandered back into the kitchen.

“Who would’ve thought, given your shitty attitude. Kid.” John snorted as he upended the bottle’s contents into his kitchen sink. “I just wish I could say that to your face—fa—ah-shi—”

Wrong fucking bottle. The stuff that was coming out of this one was the right color, but it had a really strong peppery smell that just reached up into John’s nostrils and yanked. He grabbed onto the edge of the sink, blew out air hard through his nose…and sneezed anyway.

“Uck. Jesus Christ, what was she up to…” He put the bottle down and pulled out some holy water to rinse off his hands just in case. Given the splatters around the sink, he probably was going to have to spend a night reconsecrating the damn apartment.


John stopped how he was. That happened to be with the bottle of holy water tilted so a thin trickle ran over his other hand; after a couple moments, he figured he’d better hold it straight. He might be needing that.

He turned around.

“What…” A solid, naked, and decidedly confused Balthazar had just landed ass-down on John’s floor. He stared wildly around before settling on John, his usual sneer coming onto his face. “Well, what have you been up to this time, Johnny?”

“You know, I—” John paused, then grinned like hell sticking it to heaven. It took Balthazar visibly aback, so John just grinned harder. He put down the holy water. “I don’t think I can tell you, Mr. Balthazar Gracián y Morales. I’m not sure if you’re legal for it yet.”

Balthazar’s eyes widened. His mouth worked soundlessly for a couple seconds, whereupon a few mangy croaks managed to steal out of it. A deep flush was creeping up him, and since he didn’t have clothes, John was able to see just how far down it started. Pale little twerp. The look on his face really was priceless.

“You’re not even—you’re—you—” Right about there, John gave up on being coherent, stoic, or whatever else he was supposed to be. He grabbed onto the sink edge again and doubled over, laughing.

Okay, that wasn’t the safest thing to do given he had a pissed-off and embarrassed demon in his kitchen, but Jesus Christ, it was too rich. The biggest pain in John’s ass for years and years, and not only had he been one of those demons that had started out mortal, but also he hadn’t even made past thirty before he’d gotten fried? Too good.

“I’m older than you!” John finally choked out. He sucked in a deep breath, almost calmed down, and then remembered the rest of the obit. He started laughing again.

“But not wiser, apparently,” Balthazar hissed. He…

He sat there and flipped his hand a couple times, looking increasingly confused as he realized whatever he used to be able to do with that, he could no longer do. The red tone of his skin was now bordering on lobster.

John steadied himself against the counter so he could dig into his trouser-pocket. He came up with a dime and tossed it at Balthazar’s feet.

Balthazar looked at it, considered something, and then launched himself at John. Who was still laughing.

* * *

“So get this—he was a stockbroker back then too, but he wasn’t all that great. I mean, he was, but he pissed off somebody good while he was at it so they knocked him out, locked him in his office and set fire to the building. It’s a complete cliché, but he really—really was born in fire.” The laugh was starting to sneak up on John again, but his vision still hadn’t completely regained all its color so he tried to hold it down. He did need to breathe once in a while.

Midnite helped with that, thanks to his amazing ability to kill any fun in the room. He was holding the obit at full arm’s length as if he was farsighted, which he wasn’t, and had been mumbling to himself for the past five minutes.

“Well, thank you, Johnny. It’s nice to know you’ve got such sympathy for your fellow human beings,” Balthazar snarled. After John had proven that without demon strength, Balthazar was a lousy fighter, the other…well, it looked like he tended more towards the mortal side now…man had retreated to the couch. All John could see of him was the top of his head. “Do you have any idea how painful it is to die that way?”

“Wait, are you asking me to feel sorry for you? Me? Excuse me, but did you completely forget about the last, oh, five years?” John snorted. He leaned against the counter and finished his beer, then dropped that bottle in the sink next to the other one. “Let’s see, you killed off innocent people, killed off my friends, and then set me up so I had to fucking cut my wrists and deal with Lucifer’s slimy idea of a pick-up line to save the world? Oh, I’m really feeling your pain, you fucking college brat.”

Oops. There went John’s sense of humor again.

Once he was done coughing and nearly asphyxiating himself, he propped an elbow on the kitchen counter and checked on Midnite. Midnite was eying John weirdly. Well, more weirdly than usual.

“John?” The other man carefully folded the obit and put it on the counter about two inches from John’s head. Then he folded his arms over his chest, like he was the father in this situation. Yeah, and if he didn’t knock it off, John was going to start feeling Oedipal. “Tell me you didn’t raise Balthazar from Hell solely to mock his age.”

“Of course not! I wasn’t even—I didn’t even know I was raising him, okay? I sneezed,” John said. A beat later, it occurred to him that he could’ve worded that better.

Then again, Midnite looked downright hilarious when he was starting to get a migraine, and he clearly was. He dropped his head into his hand and pinched the bridge of his nose so he was talking through his fingers. “You. Sneezed.”

“I can’t believe this. I’m mortal, then demon, then…and every time, I’m still saddled with mediocre inanity for company.” Balthazar threw up his arms. The gesture lost a lot of its impact since he was facing in the opposite direction as Midnite and John were standing. “Why?”

“Bad karma? Maybe you were a complete screaming five-year-old in your last life.” Most of that, John managed to say without snickering too much. He coughed a couple times; his lungs still were on the sore side from the whole Mammon deal. Then he nodded towards the sink. “I was pouring out this potion I took off that mambo that was hexing the subway. Figured it wasn’t much of anything…almost thought it was my beer and drank it, but I dropped some cigarette ash in it.”

The top of Balthazar’s head was no longer visible. Hopefully if he was going to commit suicide, he’d have the decency to do it in the bathroom. That couch had been the only thing Gary Lester had ever given John that hadn’t turned out to have an apocalypse-sized catch, and John was pretty fond of it. “May I at least have some clothes?” Balthazar called out. He sounded depressed. “Do you have any sense of decorum at all?”

“Not for you, kiddo.” John stifled down the one last laugh that was welling up and turned to Midnite, who was examining the potion bottle. “So?”

“So this was a very potent summoning brew. How such a low-ranked mambo had this…there must be something else going on,” Midnite abruptly said. He straightened up and tucked the bottle beneath his arm. “John.”

Oh, great. “Now? I just got off work. And besides, I don’t trust Balthazar around my things.”

Midnite impatiently flicked his eyes towards Balthazar, then spun on his heel. “He’s lost most of his magic.”

“Yeah, well, you’re old enough to have lived through some of the bad riots. You don’t need that to mess up a place,” John snapped. “Even if he really is a soft-skinned little twerp that wasn’t around when…”

With a put-upon sigh, Midnite turned back around. At least, that was what John conjectured since he was folded over again, and about all he could see was Midnite’s shoe-tips poking into his line of vision. “John, he is six years younger than you, not sixty. It is not that funny.”

Thank you,” Balthazar said in an aggrieved tone.

“And if it’ll get you moving,” Midnite acidly continued, “I’ll curse him so if he damages your possessions while we’re gone, he’ll drop to a young enough age so that we can just leave him with Child Protection Services.”

A choked yet offended-sounding sputtering came from Balthazar’s direction. John finally got himself under control and took a good look at Midnite. He squinted; sometimes the distorted vision could reveal details that weren’t immediately apparent. “You sure you aren’t growing a sense of humor? I hear they come back in funny sometimes.”

Midnite pursed his lips. He exhaled in a way that epitomized disgust and made a rapid gesture Balthazar’s way. Then he grabbed John by the elbow and hauled John out the door. “I should regress you and see what happens if you have proper parental role models,” he muttered. “You’re enough of a pest anyway.”

“But at least I’m old enough to run for president,” John rasped.

That disrupted Midnite’s smooth prowl. He recovered a moment later, but not without looking quite ill. “You will never mention yourself and that office in the same sentence again. I don’t even want to contemplate that disaster.”

* * *

By the time John got home again, it was well into the next day and he felt like shit that’d been forcibly extracted before it was ready, pulped bloody and then reinserted. So he thought it was perfectly understandable that he’d need a few moments after staggering into his bedroom to get what was different.

“Whose back did you rip those from?” he asked. He had a pounding headache. He needed to pound the bastard making a mess out of his bed, but the headache was really fucking bad, and the other bruises on him weren’t that great either. John decided he’d just hang onto the doorframe for a while and wait to be provoked. It shouldn’t take long.

Balthazar was sitting crosslegged on the bed, papers spread all around him and somebody’s laptop set up in front of him. He was wearing a nice pair of khaki trousers, a white dress shirt with the top two buttons and the cuffs undone and the tails out, and had gotten hair gel from somewhere. Of all of that, the only thing he could’ve possibly gotten from John’s apartment was the white shirt, but that fit him too well for that to be the case.

“Hmmm? You never said anything about leaving here,” Balthazar said, eyes glued to the computer screen. He picked up a pen, made a few notes and then tapped at the keyboard. Slowly but surely, the pen-end made its way into his mouth.

If he was trying to make up for the age difference, the impression wasn’t really working out. But John had the feeling that that wasn’t it. Actually, he wasn’t sure if Balthazar really knew who had just walked in. “Balthazar, I’m tired and filthy and I just got myself a bunch of fresh Allghoi Khorkhoi venom sacs. Don’t tell me I have to waste them on you for messing with my—”

“I didn’t touch your money. I can’t, remember? However, that does not mean I’m going to rely on you.” If Balthazar was aiming for haughty, he would’ve done better to take the pen out of his mouth first. It made him mumble so he could barely be understood.

On the other hand, his casual indifference to John’s presence pretty much made up the difference. “Then get off my fucking bed.”

“If you had a proper desk, I wouldn’t be on it,” Balthazar retorted. “Go be self-destructive, or something along those lines. I’ve almost finished working out a hostile reclamation of my company—from demons, I’ll remind you, so that should be do-gooder enough for you.”

Okay, now it was officially not funny anymore. John took off his coat and draped it over a chair. He went back out, popped the jar of venom sacs into a cabinet, and came back. This time he didn’t stop at the door, but went right up to the bed. Then Balthazar decided to look up, but it was a little late for that.

Balthazar’s first instinct was to lunge over his computer, which John almost found amusing enough to be distracted. He managed to get it turned off and the lid down before John had dragged him off the mattress by the throat. He even hung on to his pen and used it to stab John in the side so he could wriggle off and make a break for the door.

As he flipped around and hooked Balthazar’s ankle, John nearly sighed. The other man really wasn’t all that good at one-on-one fighting once the supernatural advantages had been subtracted from the equation. No wonder he’d liked to skulk around so much when he’d been a demon.

“What are you going to do? What? You kill me and you’re back to square one, with a ticket straight to hell,” Balthazar gasped, scrabbling at the floor. His kicking was wild enough that he clipped John a couple times, but not hard enough to keep John from hauling him back. He twisted, then whipped around and caught John on the jaw with a solid punch.

Of course, John had long since gotten used to fighting through stunning pain and blurry vision. He fell back on instinct, ducked a punch he couldn’t even see and drove down to grab Balthazar’s wrists. The other man’s knee thumped into John’s hip as John dragged himself on top, but couldn’t get up fast enough to make any real difference. John had Balthazar pinned under him with less trouble than he usually had in making his way through Midnite’s on a packed night.

“And you can’t throw me out,” Balthazar hissed. His eyes didn’t look so sure of himself as he sounded. He stopped struggling after a moment, more because he ran out of energy than because of any tactical reason. Stamina wasn’t up there either, John noted.

“Yeah? Why not?” John asked. He was a little out of breath, but if he had to go a couple more rounds, he could do that. Balthazar, on the other hand, looked seriously worn-out. His skin was on the verge of gray and he was sucking on breath like a baby at a tit.

It took nearly a minute for Balthazar to catch enough air for speaking to be possible. It might’ve taken shorter if he hadn’t wasted energy fidgeting…not so much because he was testing John’s hold, it appeared, but more because he was uncomfortable. Maybe about a little more than the part where John was keeping him from moving. John thought about that, found it funny but funny-fucking-hell instead of funny-God-my-ribs, and felt grim curiosity rising. He deliberately shifted his leg.

Well, that blush of Balthazar’s was a reproducible reaction. John mostly bit back a snicker. “You know, as a person you’re really…cute. Like the little kid that stomps on your toes so you give him a good hard kick to the ass.”

“And you’re incredibly oblivious—no, not that. Egotist,” Balthazar exasperatedly said. He tugged at his wrists and tried to sit up, which didn’t work well since his elbows couldn’t bend that way. “That summoning potion. Did you even check—did you even ask Midnite what kind it was, if you hadn’t figured it out yet?”

“You’re calling me an egotist. You. Sorry, I’m trying to pay attention but it’s hard when you just keep feeding me all these belly-achers.” Come to think of it, there weren’t a lot of summoning spells John knew of that would work in liquid form. Usually a whole ritual was required—but then, those were basically supernatural business transactions so formality was a must. Liquid meant more direct meant more personal…

…all right, John was a master at screwing himself over. Now he was wishing he’d just left that damn obituary in the library.

“Now you’ve figured it out. About time.” On the other hand, Balthazar still had gotten the shorter end of the stuck, but he was managing to remain pretty stuck-up. He pulled at his hands. “Can I get up now? I was in the middle of doing something constructive, if you can remember what that is.”

No.” It was another experiment. It was an experiment with very interesting results, given how Balthazar’s body went stiff but his pupils dilated till they nearly took up the whole eye. “Hang on a second. I’m curious: is this what you call making the best of the situation?”

Balthazar grimaced and looked upwards, as if calling on heaven for patience. Once again, it was hard for John to keep a straight face. Honestly, maybe Midnite didn’t have a sense of humor, but at least he had a good idea of what irony was. Demons should have even better ones, but then again, Balthazar hadn’t been one for very long. Shit. There went John’s gut again with the amused quiverings.

“Stop giggling, Johnny. It does nothing for your reputation, such as that is,” Balthazar muttered. Then he abruptly twisted up and around, almost slamming his shoulder into the side of John’s face. He actually got his right wrist off the ground, but not for that long.

John forced it back down; Balthazar hit the floor with a hard thump that sent him arching and hissing in pain. Being a solicitous kind of guy, John tried doing something about that. The little charm he muttered usually was good for getting Ellie to shut up about having a sore back, but it worked spectacularly on Balthazar: full-body writhe plus lolling head plus rolling eyes.

Ah, right. Along with only being able to use magic through whoever they were serving, familiars experienced more intense sensations if that also came through them. Serving. “Fuck. This doesn’t make me a demon, does it?”

“No, Johnny, it apparently just makes you supremely stupid.” Balthazar flopped back against the floor, all breathless and pink in the cheeks and narrowed eyes.

Yep, cute. Cute as the pocket-demons that John was forever banishing from idiotic spoiled little girls’ dolls and stuffed toys. “If I’d known that that’s what I was doing, I would’ve called up someone else. Hell, what good are you? It’s not like I’ve got that much interest in the stock market, and you’re awful at everything else. You couldn’t even screw over Lucifer without getting Gabriel kicking it to you.”

That touched a nerve, sending Balthazar’s eyes wide and his body rigid. He stared up at John without making any attempt at hiding his sheer fear. “You can’t send me back.”

“Oh, now what? Did you somehow manage to set it up so that my apartment blows up if I do that? Or are you just getting that desperate?” John snapped. Frustration kept him seething and breathing hard and not really paying attention for a couple seconds, but after that he started to notice that Balthazar hadn’t really changed his expression. Well, a touch of humiliation had been added to it, but that was about it. “Oh, now. Come knocking, have you? You know, there’s always still heaven to try. You ask nicely and they might give you an interview, kiddo.”

Balthazar made an incredibly intricate disgusted face. Seriously, it was a work of art. “Very amusing, John. I’m still old enough to know your first time with a demoness didn’t go all that well.”

“Hey, she lied. She could’ve mentioned she had eight limbs under her skirt, not six, and don’t tell me that those little nippy ones don’t count. Like hell they didn’t.” John leaned down hard as he talked, grinding his weight into Balthazar’s wrists. It didn’t take much for the other man to start wincing. “So what if I don’t want to let you up?”

“Then I’m not at all surprised that you’ve managed to develop a sadistic streak to go with your masochistic one. I suppose in your pinhead mind, I don’t quite count as human so your twisted set of morals are fine with it.” As bored as Balthazar sounded, he must have been feeling a bit squeezed because he tried bringing up his knee again. He got as far as the middle of John’s thigh before John swiveled and wedged it away with his hip. His pupils did that interesting dilated thing again, which John was pretty sure didn’t come with the standard model of familiar.

“And what if you don’t want me to let you up?” John asked, cooing it to Balthazar. He bent over far enough to feel how the rhythm of Balthazar’s breath changed very slightly. “I really don’t get where you come off with the superior act, you know. Obviously you don’t mind trying the options anyone in their right mind would call dangerous and stupid, and obviously you weren’t looking for what you should’ve been, otherwise being a demon for Lucifer should’ve suited you right to your shiny Sunday-school shoes.”

Balthazar sucked in his breath over his teeth and turned his head aside as John came down. Then he damn near broke his cheekbone banging it against the floor as John tried sliding some leg up against the other man’s crotch. His face screwed up in pain for a moment, which didn’t guilt-trip John any. Fucking son of a bitch owed him a lot of payback.

“And what, exactly, would you know about me? You know who wrote that obituary?” Balthazar panted. He tried to twist more to the side as John pressed down harder, but it wasn’t in the name of escaping since his knee slid up and he clamped himself around John’s thigh. “The man who had me murdered. My brother.”

“Sibling rivalry is so cute.” It was fun watching the muscle in Balthazar’s cheek jump every time John said the word ‘cute.’ It was even more fun licking the muscle so it was pretty much dancing against John’s tongue. He slowly pushed down his leg so he could rest his knee on the floor between Balthazar’s legs and the muscle vibrated as a long moan stroked its inner side. “What do I know? Well, I thought I was getting to that.”

At least one part of Balthazar agreed with John. He pulled Balthazar’s wrists closer so he could get them with just one hand, then dragged his hand down Balthazar’s front. Played around—not on, around—a nipple for a while before wandering on and tickling up beneath Balthazar’s shirt. Belly definitely was a sensitive area; that got John a bunch of teeth sinking into his jaw. But they were blunt, so he didn’t really give a damn. He pushed farther.

However Balthazar had gotten his clothes, he hadn’t managed to get the ultra-tailored ones he usually seemed to like. The waistband was plenty loose enough for John to shove his hand down it, and surprise, nothing after that to keep him from literally getting Balthazar by the balls. “I’m surprised I haven’t run into this brother of yours,” John muttered, working his face in between Balthazar’s shirt-collar and neck. “Sounds like Lou’s type.”

“He landed in Hell about a month after. I fed him to the Lilim. About all Lucifer saw of him was a chunk of his big toe.” Balthazar sounded inordinately pleased about that. Smug little fuck.

Fuck, indeed. John stretched his fingers past the ball-sac and followed the curve of Balthazar’s ass, slotting his fingertips up to tease so Balthazar stopped bragging and started gasping again. When the skin started to pucker flat, he scratched the rest of the way and worked in his pinky just to the first knuckle.

“Well, nice to see that’s true. Familiars do make everything easy.” John backed off a bit, since clothing was seriously getting in the way now, and was deeply amused when Balthazar mistook that for a permanent withdrawal. The other man made a panicked twist and managed to grab John’s wrist, trying to pull him back. “Jesus, you were a jumpy little bastard, weren’t you? Bloodthirstiness aside, and by the way, that’s—”

“Say cute and I’ll suck out your eye,” Balthazar hissed. “I’m allowed to draw blood.”

The corners of John’s mouth were twitching like crazy and he couldn’t get them to stop, so he just focused on shedding their clothes. Balthazar wasn’t exactly trying to leave now, but he still wouldn’t stay where he fucking should’ve; John caught him trying to sneak-search the discarded trousers and dragged him out of them. He still had on his shirt, so a few quick jerks at that and John had Balthazar’s wrists neatly wrapped up in it and stuck in front.

“No trying to get at my tools. Not that you could use them, anyway…” Having Balthazar belly-up meant too much chance of the fucker clawing at him, so John flipped him over. Then Balthazar tried crawling off again, but he settled down fast enough once John got a hand around front. John got a solid hold on Balthazar’s hip, then seated himself as deeply as he could inside of Balthazar.

It took a moment for him to get used to it. Everything else aside, Balthazar had an amazing ass. Perfect proportions heat, fit, and friction. He made a nice little whimpering sound, too. And his—his tongue sort of fell out of his slack mouth. It still was long and skinny, John noted.

“Don’t—” Balthazar somehow got the energy to scoot up and clamp down “—you—” and ripple his muscles “--dare--” okay, stocks and being betrayed weren’t the only things he was good at “—laugh. I swear, Johnny—”

“You know, hold onto that thought about sucking,” John…chuckled. He couldn’t completely keep it down, otherwise it’d just explode later and then he’d never get around to properly reaming out the little prick. He was all the way in, but tried a little push so his balls ended up wedged into the out-curve of Balthazar’s buttocks. Balthazar made another little noise and sagged an inch; John reminded his shaky knees that the show’d barely started. “Got some thoughts on that.”

For once, Balthazar didn’t take the opportunity to mention how useless and idiotic those probably were. Finally, a way to shut him up.

* * *

“You must’ve been barely out of college. Did you even have a permanent position yet, or was it an internship?” John asked. He watched a couple more spirals come off his cigarette tip, then took another drag.

The man flopped over him roused enough to dig his elbow into John’s belly. Then Balthazar went all limp and soft—and cuddly, John was tempted to add, but Balthazar’s teeth were pretty near John’s jugular—and nosed his face back beneath John’s chin. After a moment, his arm came out to yank at the laptop cord till that came over the edge of the bed. Balthazar barely caught it, got it to the ground with an effort that had his sweat trickling down John’s throat, and then fired it up. “Would you just drop it, Johnny? It’s getting old.”

“Yeah, I can just see you running around with a mountain of papers, getting shat on by everyone else on the corporate ladder. I bet the first people you went after were the ones that cut in front of you for coffee.” The teeth in John’s collarbone hurt a bit more than he’d been expecting. He reached out and shoved up at Balthazar’s chin till he heard teeth clacking, then twisted around to ash his cigarette. “What, weren’t they? I mean, first thing you’re doing now is trying to fuck over your old demon partners.”

Instead of answering, Balthazar concentrated very hard on typing. Funny…John didn’t remember signing up for Internet. “Go away, John. If you can’t remember how petty you can be…”

“I actually thought I was being pretty generous, considering how many fucking funerals I’ve had to go to because of you.” John pulled himself up into a sitting position. That took a while because he had to keep pushing and rolling Balthazar till the other man was down over his lap.

Balthazar tossed him a dirty look over one bitemark-ornamented shoulder, as if John’s only purpose in life was to be the jackass’ pillow. He’d gone a bit stiff again, though.

John took a good long hit off his cigarette, considering everything. He still could back out at this point, send Balthazar back down. It’d be a pain and it’d take a hell of a lot out of his supply cabinet, but it was doable without any lasting harm. Whereas if he kept the bastard around…

His cigarette had burned all the way down, so John fished over his clothes and dug around for another one. His fingers hit something small and round and smooth; he paused, then took out the coin and casually flipped it at Balthazar. The other man wasn’t even looking John’s way, but he still caught the coin without any problem. He rubbed it between thumb and forefinger for a second, then started flipping it over the back of his hand. Occasionally, if something on the screen was being provoking, he’d stop and bring it up to bite on the edge.

Balthazar did turn around to stare disgustedly when John flopped back down, laughing. “You’re nothing but a jackal.”

“And you are a nervous, geeky, insecure little twentysomething bastard—oh, sorry, I should be counting in the years since you died. Thirtysomething. Whatever. You’re just…Christ, no wonder you made such a bad demon.” John easily dodged Balthazar’s smack, then got him about the wrist and pulled him over. He pinned Balthazar’s hands down before they could flail at him, then stuck his wrist up so Balthazar could look at the thick double set of scars there. “What, don’t you want a snack before I fuck off?”

For a good minute, Balthazar just lay there and stared at John’s wrist. “You were amusing before, but now I think I’m actively beginning to detest you.”

“Sure. Yeah. You want, or not?” After a count of ten, John slowly started to lower his wrist. He let go of Balthazar’s hands.

That did the trick: Balthazar grabbed John’s arm and yanked it back up. His tongue flicked like a miniature wet whip over the scar and it opened up slightly. It stung, but not too bad. A little bead of blood formed at one end. Balthazar took a deep breath, then sealed his mouth over it. His eyelashes came down and he looked oddly angelic.

But he was more fun yelping and looking aggrieved. John dropped the other man and got up, though he had to give Balthazar’s ass a last pinch as he did. He rubbed his inner wrist, but it’d already healed over. The scar had gone from white to a kind of wine-brown color so now it looked more like a birthmark.

“I said snack, not four-course dinner,” John said, making for the shower. He tried not to turn around and watch Balthazar rubbing his ass. His ribs honestly were hurting from laughing so much. He really tried.

A wad of papers came flying at John. He ducked them and slammed the bathroom door shut, then leaned against it and had one last laugh. Hell, this was probably all he was getting for the next five years, so he’d better get his fill now. Oh, man. This was too good. But it definitely was going to get him later. But it was good. But…fuck it.

Of course John wasn’t going to turn it down.