Disclaimer: I'm not USA / Jeff Eastin / etc. or CW / Kripke, so I don't claim to own them.
Word Count: 2,243
Written For: hc_bingo and avamclean's July 2013 Prompt
HC Bingo Square: making deals with demons
Summary: Danny Brooks struck a deal and found a new life in Neal Caffrey, but all good things must come to an end.
His life had turned upside down. Everything had been a lie. He should have remembered, but three was apparently too young to remember things like his real name. Nothing was right anymore.
He had two months left of school, but he couldn’t take living the lie. His mother had told him stories about the hero that his father was. How he had died in the line of duty protecting a fellow officer. With those stories in mind, he had longed to follow in his father's footsteps. Now, those dreams were shattered. There was no way a police academy would welcome the son of a cop killer.
His mom was still at work, unaware that he knew the truth. Ellen had left him alone and returned to her apartment next door. It was now or never.
He packed a backpack hastily, ensuring that he had enough clothes and toiletries to get by. He hesitated when he looked over his art supplies. He opted for his small sketchbook and few of his pencils. He hated the thought of leaving his paints behind, but he wouldn't have room for them.
His last stop had been the top shelf of the kitchen. In the back of the cupboard, there was an old Tupperware dish that his mom used to squirrel away the tips she made at the restaurant. She always told him that one day the money would take them to a faraway land. He felt that the money was his right, for the lie she had made him live and believe. He took the majority of it, leaving a hundred behind just in case.
Then he was gone. He left the apartment and didn't look back.
A month later, he was starting to regret his decision. Despite his best efforts, the money he had taken was almost gone. He'd picked up a job at a run down diner, but wasn't interested in leading the life his mom had for the last fifteen years. His only hope was in something he didn't really believe in.
A year before, he had befriended this new kid that was a few years younger than him. His name was Dean and if he hadn't been trying to set a good example for his younger brother Sammy, the kid would have skipped school all together. He'd latched onto Dean when he learned the kid knew how to shoot a gun.
Despite asking his mom and Ellen for years, they'd never allowed him to get instruction or lessons in firearms. Since his career path at the time would require guns, he wanted to know how to use them so he would have a leg up when it came to the academy.
Since Dean and his brother were staying at some farm on the outskirts of the subdivision, he was able to get an invite over and take lessons from Dean. Dean was able to show him everything, not just how to shoot. He showed him to take apart various guns to clean them and ensure they were working. Even Sammy would provide some instructions if he had questions that went into the more general aspects of firearms. When he'd asked the other boys how they knew so much, Dean had just said it was part of the job.
Then one day, Dean didn't show up for school. When he went by the farm that afternoon, there was no sign that they had even been there. Everything that he had seen laying around was gone. But in the bedroom, he found one book that had been overlooked underneath the bed.
The book had contained fanciful stories about demons and ghosts and every manner of nightmarish creatures out of 60’s horror movies. He'd assumed the book was just a work of fiction, but there were notes across most of the pages talking about what was incorrect based on a job that had occurred.
The one entry that his mind kept flashing back to was about the Crossroads Demon. The story detailed how a person could make a deal with a demon to receive whatever it was they wanted. In return, the demon would own the person's soul. As he did with most things he read, he had memorized the passage. He had also made note of the added notes regarding the method of getting the demon to appear. It was worth a shot.
He had been passing the empty crossroads for thirty minutes and was about to give up when a woman walked toward him. She had dark brown hair that cascaded over her shoulder and as she drew near, he could see that her eyes were as blue as his own.
"Welcome Neal George Bennett," she said with a smile, using the name he hadn't remembered until Ellen had told him the story.
"That's not me," he said with faked confidence.
"Oh, it is you, darling," the woman said as she stopped in front him. She lifted a hand and trailed a blood red fingernail down his cheek. "You are the sum of all your parts. Neal George Bennett was your before, Danny Brooks is your current, but the question you face is what will be your future."
"And you can help with that?" he asked, taking a step back and away from her hand.
"Of course. But in order to help you, I need to know what you want."
"I want a challenge," he said without much thought. "It's the reason I wanted to be a police officer. It wasn't just the stories about my dad. I thought if I had a case to solve, it would give me a purpose. But I can't have that anymore, my dad took it from me and I don't even remember him."
"Fighting crime isn't the only way to find a challenge, Neal," she said in a sultry voice that was captivating him. "In fact, the real challenge would be to keep others from knowing how you did something. I understand you like art, among other things."
"It's a hobby," he said cautiously.
"I believe it's more than that. What if I told you that your work could hang among the greats?"
"I'd say you're crazy and that I'm crazy for thinking I called some demon."
"But you are not crazy, Neal. And with my help, you'll become famous and maybe even find the love you so desperately want."
Neal shook his head in denial, but the woman pressed on. "I can see into your soul, Neal. You want to find love and I can help you with that."
"If you help me, then what do I do in return?"
"When the time comes, you'll be mine."
"And when is that time?"
"Ten years from now, but ten years can last a lifetime when you have what you want. Do we have a deal?"
Neal leaned into her finger when it returned to his cheek. Ten years was a long time to have everything he wanted. And it wasn't like he truly believed everything the woman was saying.
"It's a deal," he said. Then he gasped as she leaned in and kissed him deeply.
"The deal is struck, Neal Caffrey," she said when the kiss ended. Then she handed him a wallet. "That is your new life and I want to leave you with one parting gift."
She reach up and pressed her fingers to his head. Then he felt a growing heat transfer from her fingers. The sensation increased until he couldn't take and pulled back from her abruptly.
"What was that?" he gasped, running his fingers through his hair expecting to find it singed.
"You'll find that I left you with the knowledge you need to get exactly what you want. Use it well and I'll see you again."
The woman was suddenly gone and Neal was left standing in the empty road with just a wallet in his hand. But his mind was reeling. He suddenly knew things that he had never known before, things about art and banks and a multitude of other facts that would be useful across the board.
He flicked open the wallet and found himself staring at a New York driver's license with his picture on it. The name read Neal George Caffrey. It was his future.
The last six months had been hell. Everything had started to fall apart. The worst had been when Kate left him. He wanted to throw something, but everything except the mattress and sheet were bolted down in his small cell. It wasn't supposed to end with him in prison. It wasn't part of the deal.
At the thought of the deal, Neal heard the barking of the dogs. He'd noticed it the night that Agent Burke had arrested him. With each passing day, the barking had gotten louder. He had made the mistake when he first arrived of asking a guard if he heard it and rumor had spread that he was crazy, and not the crazy that would keep people away from him.
The anniversary of his deal was at midnight and since Bobby hadn't come by, he knew there was still time. But he wasn't sure how he could do anything from behind bars. If the barking dogs were any indication, his demon would get to him without any problem.
If he was honest with himself, he figured he deserved it. Until that night, he'd always been one of the good guys. Then the demon had given him knowledge and a hint of what he could do with that knowledge. He'd flourished with the challenge of it all, especially eluding Agent Burke.
Now he was in prison and his ten years was at a close. Bobby passed by telling him to kill the light was the deathblow. The dogs were growling and he was expecting them to appear beside him at any moment. Suddenly, there was a red light and his demon was there, two dogs beside her.
"Neal, Neal, Neal," she said, tapping her heeled shoe against the concrete floor. "I thought you would do better for yourself. Instead, I find you in this ugly place. After this, I think you'll appreciate your new accommodations. I have a place all picked out for you."
Neal didn't even want to put up a fight. He watched as the dogs' tongues lolled out, showing the razor sharp canines that would tear him apart. But before they could pounce, a blinding white light filled the room, separating him from his death.
"You can't interfere!" his demon shouted. Neal shielded his eyes and could make out a man standing in front of him. There were wings stretched out the full length of his cell, the ends curling against the wall.
"It is you that interfered," the man's deep voice intoned. "He is one of ours."
"You should take better care of your playthings then. He was broken and I fixed him. You would have left him to rot."
"We left him to find his path. He's on his path as was planned, but that path does not include you. Your deal has been severed. If you leave this place, I will not wipe you from existence. It has been agreed."
Neal caught a glimpse of his demon's face through the wings and the beautiful woman was gone. She had been replaced with a grotesque shape with yellow eyes. He felt bile rise in his throat that he had once kissed that thing.
"Fine," she snapped. And then she and her dogs were gone. When the man turned around to face him, Neal wasn't sure what to do.
"We never meant for you to be hurt," the man said, his hand reaching out to cup Neal's face. When the fingers touched his face, Neal felt a warmth that carried a feeling of peace he hadn't felt since Ellen had told him the truth all those years ago.
"But you had to learn," he continued. "And one day soon, you'll be ready to take the place you were meant to have."
"And what's that?" Neal asked, finally finding his voice.
"When Kate leaves you, you'll find it."
Neal's gut clenched. Since his arrest, Kate had been visiting him once a week. The thought of losing her again was not something he wanted to face.
"How will I know it?"
"The answer will lie with Peter Burke," then with a pop, he was gone. All that remained was the feeling of warmth that had worked its way through Neal's body, leaving him at ease.
"Agent Burke?" he questioned out loud. "A fucking angel saves my life and he tells me that the man that arrested me will have the answers."
Neal flopped back onto his bed and let his eyes fall shut. Without the barking of the dogs, he felt that he could finally get some rest. As he drifted off to sleep, he thought of ways he could keep Agent Burke from forgetting him. After all, four years was a long time for an FBI agent to remember some guy he'd tossed in prison. Maybe he would send him a birthday card, it was just around the corner.
When sleep finally came, Neal dreamed of a future where he was surrounded by people that cared for him and loved him, a future where he was doing good with his life. But with four years of prison ahead of him, it was only a dream.