(or Why you shouldn't shoot him)
For a few moments after Hattie left the room there was silence. Buck used these moments to remind himself that the most evil man in history was sitting in front of him and push all doubt from his mind. Then, as quickly as he could, Buck pulled out his gun and shot Nicolae.
Buck didn't fully understand what had happened. Everything had gone according to plan. That couldn't be right. The plan was to kill Nicolae. The plan seemed to have succeeded. Something was wrong here. Nicolae's body was slumped forward on the desk, a pool of blood expanding around it. How the hell was this possible?
The gun was getting heavy in his hand.
He hadn't prepared himself for this. He'd prepared himself for a painful death. He'd prepared himself for martyrdom. He'd prepared himself for inevitable failure. But this ... he didn't even have an escape plan.
"Have to say, I did Not See That Coming."
Buck spun to face the voice, the gun leading the way. There was a blonde man in white clothing sitting in a chair Buck was sure hadn't been there a moment ago, his feet propped up on another chair.
"Do you realize that by pulling that trigger you have derailed a plan the universe has been following since the moment of creation?"
Buck's brain unfroze long enough for him to ask, "Who the hell are you?" and shake the gun to show he deserved an answer. The man made a quick gesture, and the clip fell out of Bucks gun.
"You still have one in the chamber, of course, but I wouldn't recommend pulling the trigger," the man said calmly. Buck started to shake slightly. "Buck, Buck, Buck ... I don't want to hurt you. The truth is I'd be clapping right now if I didn't think the sound of a single person clapping sounded more like sarcasm than praise.
"It is true that you've screwed up my plans, but you also screwed up His plans. For that all your trespasses against me are forgiven. Besides, I'm so curious." The man took his feet off the chair and placed them on the ground. He leaned forward, placed his elbows on his knees, intertwined his fingers, and rested his chin on his hands. "Now that you're in open rebellion against God, what is it you're planning on doing next?"
The man's posture reminded Buck of something, but at the moment his brain wasn't up to the task of correlating it to how Nicolae had been sitting a few minutes earlier. Most of Buck's thought process was devoted to the possibility he'd just screwed up God's plan. So far all it had managed was something along the lines of, "What! What?" He had stopped shaking, but he hardly noticed.
When Buck didn't answer the man sat up straight and asked, "You don't have a plan?" Buck was motionless. "Improvisation is nice, but I think we should have some sort of plan. What to do now that we don't have an Antichrist, that sort of thing." Buck made no response. "Until then, I think we should keep the other side off balance. So, my first thought is that we make Bruce Barnes the head of the One World Religion and allow him to run it as he sees fit." Buck remained completely still. "We'll need a new UN Secretary General, you can have the job if you want it.
"I have to say, I had you figured wrong. I thought you were a shallow narcissist who got by on an undeserved reputation without actually doing anything but this," he stood and gestured to Nicolae's corpse, "was brilliant. To knock God's plans off track with a simple," he gestured as if pulling the trigger of a gun, and made a noise that sounded entirely unlike a gunshot, "is simply brilliant.
"All my plans have to be scrapped, but the truth is I'm loving this. It's as if infinite possibilities have suddenly opened up before me. I haven't felt so alive in thousands of years." The man spontaneously hugged Buck, and Buck was dimly aware that feathered wings briefly surrounded him. Then Buck was released and found himself eye to eye with the man, "I've got a lot of work to do, but I'll be available any time for my new partner. So if you need anything, anything at all, you just call out and I'll be at your side."
The man disappeared, leaving Buck alone, his arm still extended, gun still pointed at the man's empty chair.
At long last pieces started to fall into place in Buck's mind. The man wasn't a man at all. He was Lucifer. Buck's actions had derailed God's plans. Lucifer seemed quite happy with this. He had hugged Buck. God was probably not very happy. Buck had known God's plan, gone against it, and succeeded. Did that mean he wasn't going to Heaven now? Bruce had said that once you were saved you were saved, but Bruce had said that Nicolae couldn't be killed yet.
Good God, Buck thought, Lucifer hugged me.
For a moment he thought nothing at all, then he thought the same thing in a very different way. Lucifer had hugged him. Lucifer. Not that long ago Buck had been a name dropper, impressed by his own ability to say, "I met him," "She and I had lunch the other day," "Interviewed him," "Know her," about assorted rich and famous people. Now Lucifer, the first fallen, leader of all Evil, and ruler of earth until Jesus came back, had hugged him. Had praised Buck's work.
Lucifer had promised to come when Buck called.
And why shouldn't he? Buck had singlehandedly changed God's plans. Who else could do that? No one, that's who. Buck was the most powerful man in the universe.
With that affirmation of what Buck had long believed, Buck's brain returned to it's full functionality.