This is going to be a bit of a bumpy ride, I think, especially with the chapters getting longer and longer. This one goes back to conversations, because I can't just leave Midnight out of this, but there are also some important clues, so don't just ignore this one. Thanks to Detroit, Xelena, Falcon Horus, and Ratatusk for the reviews!

"What do you mean, you won't help?" John shouted into the phone, getting odd looks from the people passing by. He glared at them and turned back towards the payphone., shielding his head from the cold wind.

"I mean what I say," crackled the familiar, deep voice. "Unlike some people, I still remember the balance."

"Fuck the balance – "

"Constantine . . ."

John sighed. "Why do you have to be so fucking obsessed with the balance? No one cares anymore, Midnight. No one except you."

"Then I feel sorry for the world, and you, because you will all be damned. That is my final word, Constantine."

"Wait!" John grabbed at any straw he could. "Let me tell you what this is about, okay? Just listen to me for a minute."

"You have no more than that," Midnight said with a sigh.

John bit his lip. "You remember Chas?"

"The boy whom Gabriel killed? The walking encyclopedia?"

"Yeah, that's him. Anyway, I just got a friendly little warning, courtesy of everyone's least favorite friend."

"Oh? What did the Devil have to say?"

"That Chas is damned and I should be careful."

There was a moment of thoughtful silence. Midnight had taken a liking to Chas, and John was hoping that that would be enough to solicit the shaman's help.

The final response, however, was the one question John had been avoiding, because he was beginning to dread the answer.

"Why would the boy be damned?"

John sighed. "I don't know. All Michael would say was that the Devil took advantage of Chas. You know how he works."

Midnight sounded almost chastising. "If he sold his soul, there is nothing anyone can do. He belongs to whatever power took his offer."

"But Chas wouldn't do that!" John said, constraining himself from screaming the words. "He knows about that stuff. He would never have done anything like that!"

"If you refuse to see the facts right in front of you, not even He can help. Those blinded by their emotions see less than those who cannot see."

"Midnight! Don't hang up the . . ."

With a sigh, John hung up the phone and listened to the clink of change falling down into its slot. With determination, he scooped the coins out, fished in his pocket for some more, and shoved them all into the phone. He only needed to hit one button.

"I have invested in caller ID, you know. It recognizes payphone numbers."

"Give me one more chance. Please."

The pause seemed to take up an eternity, and the sigh ever longer. "You have an extension on that minute."

John took a deep breath. "Michael talked about some open-ended offer – you know how people say things without thinking. And he mentioned that I might have been part of the bargin."

"Could this be true?" There was a note of interest in the crackling voice.

"I don't know! I certainly don't remember anything suspicious involving demonic influence at the time . . ."

"You sound unsure."

"Well . . ." He paused, and decided it wouldn't hurt. "Do you think there's any such thing as luck?"

Midnight seemed to consider the question seriously. "No. Everything is influence – His plan or the whisperings from below . . . do you think you might have been affected?"

John leaned back against the plastic case of the payphone, his mind working to consider something he really didn't want to believe. "I don't know anything. Luck always seems to be a part of life. If we're going to go out on a limb and say it's all influence, I'd run out of times luck was on my side when it came to Chas." He was currently considering one particular time, but he didn't want Midnight to know about that just yet. That was completely personal. "Like I said before, Chas knew all about dealings with demons and the consequences. Shit, he was scared enough when I told him about my problem. He wouldn't have done anything even vaguely like it."

"The boy did not always know you, Constantine, and you did not always know him," Midnight said sadly, and with a tone of finality. "Remember that. And remember to watch over your own newly redeemed soul, lest you loose yourself and the boy. I suggest you look for what you do not know. I wish you luck, though I do not think you will succeed."

Knowing that he'd already pushed Midnight to the limits of conversation, John hung up the phone. Now, at least, the shaman knew the situation, and could listen for information, or perhaps even help in some limited and yet unknown way.

He stared at the telephone and wished that the phone book held listings for damned souls. At least, with a telephone book, you're limited to several thousand pages of names. Compared to the hunt he was going to have to go on, that was pissing small change.

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