They stared at each other across the waiting room.
On one side sat a ruddy blonde-haired man in an impeccable suit, his hair gelled back and fire in his gaze. He sneered at the room's other occupant, confidant in his superiority. This was not their first encounter. Their rivalry went back years, though recently the rules had been rather drastically altered. Perfectly manicured fingers twitched on the arm of the demon's chair, the only sign of his agitation.
The focus of his irritation sat on the exact opposite side of the room. The other man smiled, smoking a cigarette in blatant disrespect of his surroundings. One leg hung over the side of the chair, wrinkling the fabric of his pants. Blonde hair stood up in disarray as if he'd just rolled out of bed before arriving. He wore a white shirt and black tie under a brown trench coat, his standard dress.
John Constantine was, perhaps, the last person Balthazar would have ever expected to meet outside Lucifer's office, which meant that he was the one person Balthazar seemed to run into the most.
He was getting used to it, like he was getting used to the other changes forced upon him by Constantine's death. Some he was even starting to like, though he would never admit it aloud. That'd ruin his carefully crafted image. He was evil after all.
Balthazar had to admit death looked good on Constantine, possibly even better than life had. Mortality had done Constantine no good. It was... fitting, that'd he'd had to abandon it in the end.
"So, Bally." John was the first to break the silence between them. "What's new in Hell? Tortured any more innocent souls recently? Ever thought of redecorating the place a little, maybe put in an ice rink?"
Balthazar glared. "Things are fine. No thanks to you."
He would have wagered souls that Constantine's death would be the end of it. No more – or at least a lot less – interference on Earth. It'd tip the balance and give them the edge they needed to finally take over. Of course, he also would have wagered that Constantine was theirs. Suicides were their province.
Leave it to God to change the rules halfway through the game.
Constantine shrugged easily and gave Balthazar an impertinent smirk. "Just doing my job."
Lucifer was going to be in a foul mood after these meetings. He always was when Constantine was involved.
"What about you, Johnny Boy? Still pretending that you play both sides?"
In name, Constantine wasn't on either side. He wasn't God's and he wasn't Satan's. Constantine existed to keep the balance. He was their... referee, so to speak.
That was the official version. Reality was quite different. There was no mistaking which side Constantine favored, no matter how much he play acted. Business was the worst it had ever been.
"I never pretended," Constantine quipped back. He'd gotten a lot cockier now that he knew Balthazar couldn't kill him.
That didn't stop Balthazar from trying.
"Just a different two sides than I'm supposed to be playing," John finished, a thinly veiled leer spread across his lips. "Eternity lasts a while. I need to find some way to amuse myself." He shot Balthazar a significant look. "Aside from kicking your ass that is."
Balthazar was tempted to rise to the challenge. Their location, and the man in the adjoining room, stopped him. "We can prove the fallacy of that statement at another time."
Constantine continued smiling. "I really do play both sides," he assured.
One finely trimmed eyebrow arched. "Was that an offer?"
"More of an invitation, but you can take it as you like." Constantine sounded sure of himself, experienced. Balthazar doubted he had much experience with men, let alone with demons. They were a whole different breed entirely. A superior breed, as far as Balthazar was concerned.
He smirked back. Who did Constantine honestly think he was fooling? Balthazar had encountered far too many curious do-gooders, both on the mortal plane and off of it, to take the man seriously. "And if I were to take you up on the offer? Would you do it?" He challenged.
Constantine didn't even bat an eye at the words, though he shifted on the chair, spreading his legs wider in obvious invitation. "Your place or mine?"
Balthazar sat back in his chair and stared. Well. This could prove to be quite interesting.
"You always manage to fascinate me, John Constantine," he admitted. "Even when you enrage me, you fascinate me."
"Glad to oblige."
He imagined how else Constantine might oblige him. What could he do with the lips that mocked him? How would he ravage the body that fought him? Would he dominate it, take control for the first time and for once bend Constantine to his will, or would he seduce, show Constantine the benefits of helping their side?
His ruminations were cut short but the sound of a gong. Slinging his leg over the arm of the chair, Constantine stood. Brown fabric billowed around him like leathery wings. "Hope you don't mind if I go first," Constantine smirked at him, already heading towards Lucifer's door.
Balthazar let him. He watched, and contemplated.
There was a way to win this. Constantine had handed him an opening, one that could prove most advantageous. He'd be an idiot – worse than an idiot – if he let it slip through his grasp.
Constantine paused scant paces from Lucifer's door and turned back towards the waiting demon. "You never did answer my question."
There were far too many questions flitting around his head to keep track. "Which one was that?"
Constantine smile at him again. That smile was starting to get on Balthazar's nerves. "Your place or mine?'
Scratch that. The smile infuriated him.
The thought of strolling into God's domain to bend his servant over the nearest piece of furniture was tempting, but Balthazar had enough sense of self-preservation to know a bad idea when he heard it.
"Mine." He drawled the word out in a silken purr.
"I'll be there," Constantine promised, before disappearing into Lucifer's office.
Well, Balthazar thought, eternity with Constantine could prove interesting after all.