The tall dark man walked silently down one of the many back alleys of the City of Angles. 'Ironic' he thought. A gust of wind blew his black hair wildly and brought with it a loathsome stench. Granted, the back passages of the city did not smell like roses on a normal evening, but this was different. This had the lingering smell of sulfur, which was never a good sign. He took a long drag from the cigarette he had and kept walking, being wary of his surroundings.

Then he heard it, the fluttering of wings against the night wind. There were not many this time, maybe 100 or so, easy enough to take care of. He pulled a tattered rag from his jacket and wrapped it around his left hand. Speaking in soft, almost inaudible words, he looked up as the only light source in the alley began to fade slowly. He knew what was coming for they had come for him many times before. He pulled his favorite gold lighter from his other jacket pocket and thought on how much he hated this part. The light continued to dim until there was only the soft muted light of the red coils still burning in the bulb. Then, almost instantly, it went black.

"Go to Hell!" he yelled and lit the rag sending waves of bright light streaming into the alley. The sky was full of screeching bat like creatures, but not for long. When the light touched their sickly, scaly skin, they screeched in pain and disintegrated into ash. 'When will they learn' he thought as the last traces of burnt demon fluttered away in the wind.

"Very good, John" came a soft voice from behind him.

"Gabriel…how long have you been there?" he responded without turning. He took out a fresh cigarette and lit it with the lighter he still had in his hand.

"Long enough…" the Angel answered "Constantine, you know we cannot interfere" he half laughed.

John Constantine turned to face the being. Immediately he saw the great grey wings that attached to the back of Gabriel. It was a gift and a curse. He could always see them, and they could always see him. He could never hide and nether could they.

"What do you want Gabriel?" Constantine asked bluntly, taking another drag from the cigarette. Subtlety was never one of his strong points.

"Can't an old friend just stop by and say hello?" Gabriel asked innocently

"No" he knew this ethereal being had a hidden agenda, he always did, and there was always a catch.

Gabriel adjusted the black suit jacket he was wearing nervously. "I can only tell you so much, John…you know the rules" he said and Constantine nodded. "From this moment on you shall be on a mission"

"For God?" Constantine asked for he knew that Gabriel was not one of the Devils minions. The angel nodded slowly. "Would this guarantee my welcome?" The angel shook his head slowly. "Well then, I'll pass" he took another drag and turned to leave in the opposite direction, away from Gabriel.

"You have no choice, John" the angel called after him

"Sure I do. It's called free will…look it up" he yelled back

"Not in your case" this stopped John in his tracks. He turned back to Gabriel who had an odd smile on his face. "What do you mean 'not in my case'?" he asked through clenched teeth. He had had enough of this bullshit from both sides. They constantly toyed with him like a cat that had caught a mouse and was playing with it before he killed it. He hated it.

"I cannot tell you, all I can say is you have no choice…events have been put into motion that you cannot avoid or stop…so just do as you are told"

"Let me get this strait…you want me to go on a mission for the almighty but I get nothing in return and on top of everything, I have no choice in the matter? There is no incentive or reason behind this!" he half screamed at the angel who just stared at him.

"There doesn't have to be…that is why it is called a divine mystery" Gabriel calmly responded.

"Divine my ass…he's just toying with me, and you know it"

"John, there is no talking to you when you are upset...I will excuse that blasphamy too" Gabriel spread his wings and prepared to dissipate.

"Don't you go anywhere! I'm not done talking to you!" he grabbed Gabriel by the shoulder. The angel looked at Constantine in half surprise, half annoyance. "That is all I can tell you. You know why you are not welcomed! You will understand in time" Gabriel peeled the fingers of Constantine from his Shoulder and disappeared.

"Come back here, you bastard!" Constantine yelled into the night. There was no response, only the sounds of the endless LA traffic. "Son of a bitch" he said to himself "I can never win"