All characters belong to their respective creators / film companies / Vertigo / etc. and are used without permission. This story may only be distributed on a non-profit-making basis.
If you like this story, check out my other stories on the Fanfiction Net, Twisting the Hellmouth, and Fonts of Wisdom websites. I'm British, so's my spelling. Live with it.
Jesse Custer sometimes wondered why he seemed to spend so much time sitting around in bars. He didn't think that he had a drinking problem; he wanted a drink, he had one, no problem. The problem usually seemed to be the pointless converations and fights he got into while he was drinking.
The bar was crowded, and he hardly noticed when someone sat down beside him, ordered a Scotch, and asked for a light.
Jesse pulled out his lighter and lit up without really looking at his neighbour, who said "Thanks. Nice to see somone else that still likes petrol lighters. Beats the taste of butane any day."
Jesse looked round. The guy seemed to be in his twenties or early thirties, and had peroxide-blonde hair and a British accent. "So why don't you have one?"
"Broke up with my bird, left it behind somewhere in California and there's no way I'm going back for it."
"No, vicar, not pride. She hates me, if I go back she'll kill me... or I'd finally give in to myself and kill her."
"I have a girl like that. Really don't want to get on the bad side of her."
"Yeah? What's her name?"
"Bloody hell, and I thought my girl's parents were daft."
"We ever have a kid it's going to be called something normal, like John or Marion."
"Marion? Used to be a boy's name, you know."
"Yup. Belonged to the Duke." The stranger looked blank. "The Duke. John Wayne. Gave my daddy this lighter in Vietnam." Jesse showed the stranger the 'Fuck Communism' inscription on the side.
"That was a weird war, Vietnam. I was around the fringes of it in Indochina for a while, decided that there were more entertaining ways to get killed. Got to the USA just in time for Woodstock."
"Wouldn't have thought you were old enough."
"Looks can be deceiving."
Jesse realised that the stranger had old eyes in a young face.
"So what are you? The wandering Jew? Some other sort of immortal? Or just had a really good face job?"
"Something like that. You're an odd sort of preacher, aren't you?"
"I've met God, angels, the Saint of Killers, and the ghost of John Wayne, so my definitions of usual and unusual are kinda strange."
"You met God?"
"Yeah. How about you?"
"I've met a god, but I'll guess not the one you're talking about. I'm not the sort your God wants to meet, mate. Him and his mob have turned his back on me."
"Long story. Things I've done, there's no forgiving. That's one of the reasons I left my girl, what I am was slowly killing her. She's good, spent some time in heaven, and me, I'm... beneath her." His voice tailed off into silence, and he took another swig of Scotch and ordered refills.
"So how you gonna change what you are?"
"You still love her, don't you? How are you gonna change things?"
"Don't really know where to start. Things I need... well, first off a lot more nerve. There's someone in Africa that might be able to help me put things right, but there's a good chance I'll be killed. Even if I get past that, I've gotta face her again. Not sure that I can."
"Do you think you'll be happy if you can?"
"Dunno. There's still an awful lot she'd have to forgive."
"Women seem to be good at that. Why not try?"
"Not sure I can."
Jesse felt sorry for him, and in the Voice of God said "Go to Africa, get what you need to make her happy, then go back to her."
"What the hell was that? Felt like it was poking fingers into my brain."
"The Voice of God. Take all the time you need, but do it."
"And if I don't?"
"Not sure it's actually possible to resist Him, but feel free to try. I'm sure it'll be character building, if it doesn't drive you insane."
The stranger moved to hit Jesse then stopped, putting his hand to his head and wincing.
"You bastard. I'd kill you if I could, just as well for you I can't."
"Bunch of scientists did something to me. Can't harm humans."
"You learn to live with it. It helps I can still hurt other things."
"Demons, vampires, my girl, that sort of thing. Dunno about angels, might be interesting to try."
"If you run into one give it an extra kick for me."
"Right... Anyway, I'd better be going. Got to get a boat to Africa."
"Not going to try to fight it?"
"Nahh, I was more or less decided anyway. If you're praying put in a word for me, don't suppose it'll do any harm and I might need the help."
"Don't really pray these days, once I'd met God I didn't trust the bastard any more, but good luck."
They drank, and the stranger slipped off his seat and headed for the door. Jesse looked at the mirror behind the bar, but didn't see him leave.
"Thought I'd find you here," said Tulip, slipping into the empty seat a few minutes later. "Want to buy me a drink?"
Jesse kissed her then said "Bartender, another Scotch for me and whatever the lady is drinking."
"Okay, reverend, but I'd appreciate it if you'd pay for the drinks you and your friend already had."
"Friend?" asked Tulip and Jesse together.
"The guy you were talking to, he said you were paying."
"Son of a bitch!" said Jesse, handing over the money. "Last time I do someone a favour."