AN: Here's Chapter 6, and the end!


John took a cab to the cemetery, knowing from experience that the fastest way to get from one place to another in LA was telling a slightly crazy cab driver to step on it. As he waited impatiently to arrive, he studied the objects in his hands and thought.

The holy water. He knew holy water had many uses, but he wasn't sure what it could do in a situation like this.

The Talisman of Byzantium. Chas's last resort. And John didn't doubt one bit that he wouldn't hesitate to use it.

And the Cross of Madrid. Well known as a cross of holy protection, but beyond that, no known uses.

John chuckled. Well, Chas, you've done it. You've always wanted to impress me, and now you've not only done that, you've confused me to all hell.

The cab pulled up to the graveyard, and John tossed some money at the driver (probably far too much) and got out. He looked around, tucking the cross and the talisman into his inside jacket pockets as he studied the area.

It was quiet. Eerily quiet. Too quiet.

He stepped through the gates into the cemetery itself, and felt a chill go down his spine. Something was definitely here, watching…but no way to tell what it was. He thought about calling out Chas's name, but he didn't want to draw attention to himself. Not yet.

He walked straight to Chas's grave, the cold stone a harsh reminder that he'd failed his young apprentice. He'd let his guard down, just for a few seconds, and then Chas's life had been ripped from him violently. Seventeen and dead.

"Hey, John! Come on, snap out of it, John!"

John looked straight up, and perched in the tree limbs above him was Chas, looking down with wide curious hazel eyes, his wings partly unfolded.

"Get down here, you oversized pigeon," John said, and Chas smirked and jumped down out of the tree, landing silently.

"You're hurt," John pointed out, gesturing to the deep gashes on Chas's neck.

"It's nothing. You've got the cross and the talisman?"

John nodded.

"Well…hand them over."

"No."

Chas blinked a few times in surprise. "John, seriously…hand them over."

"Midnite told me what that talisman does, Chas."

Chas groaned and rolled his eyes. "Damnit, John, I know what I'm doing. You don't. Face that for once and hand over the damn talisman."

"Well, isn't this just priceless."

Both turned at the sound of Balthazar's voice, and John practically growled.

"Looks like I'll have to deport you again," he remarked, and Balthazar laughed.

"Work on them first," he replied, pointing upwards. Chas and John looked up, and in the trees were at least a dozen other half breed demons, simply waiting for Balthazar's word to pounce.

"John…give me the cross and the holy water," Chas whispered, his voice tense. John fished in his pockets and handed them over, surprised when Balthazar seemed to blatantly ignore the action, stepping closer.

"Face it, angel…you're at the end of your rope. No place else to go. Heaven has abandoned you."

Chas quite suddenly turned to John and began chanting in Latin, and then he popped the top off the vial of holy water and splashed it in a circle around him.

"Chas, what the hell are you doing!" John asked as Chas made a wave over him with the cross.

"Sorry, John. Can't have you getting killed," Chas said, and John tried to move toward him…and he seemed to hit an invisible wall.

"Chas!"

Chas's expression was serious and sad as he reached through the shield and into John's jacket, taking the talisman.

"Trust me."

Balthazar looked back and forth between John and Chas, obviously a bit irked about being ignored. "You know what I want, kid. Give me the talisman and I won't have to rip it off you by force."

Chas suddenly began a new chant in a different language, and that's when Balthazar caught sight of the talisman. His eyes widened and he leaped at Chas, basically giving the other demons the signal to move.

A few more seconds of chanting, a bright light, and Chas suddenly slammed the Cross of Madrid against his own chest.

Another bright light, everything was frozen, but there was screaming, so much screaming, and John knew exactly what was happening even if the flashing lights from the talisman made it impossible to see- the demons were being torn back to hell, by force, and Chas with them.

"Chas!"

The whole thing could only have lasted about fifteen seconds, but in his blinded state John felt like it lasted an eternity. And when the light faded, he felt that the shield around him had dropped. The grass was covered with the steaming remains and torn clothing of the demons, and in the midst of it all was Chas.

He was laying on his back on the ground, clothes in tatters and wings utterly gone. The Cross of Madrid still lay on his chest, and it had burned straight through his shirt. He looked dead.

John rushed to his side, throwing the cross aside and lifting the limp boy into his arms. No response, nothing.

"Chas…Chas, come on, don't die on me," he pleaded, one hand tangling in the boy's unruly curls to support his head. Once again, no response. "Chas, please…"

You failed him. Again. Because of you he's condemned.

John swallowed hard, holding Chas's lifeless body tight against his chest.

Then, quite suddenly…a gasping breath from Chas. John looked down, eyes wide as Chas's eyes fluttered open. Then it dawned on him.

The Cross of Madrid. A cross of protection, and Chas had used it in a desperate attempt. And now…

"John?" He said, and then he broke into a short coughing fit. "John…what the hell happened?"

John frowned. "You…don't remember/"

Chas shook his head, looking around, obviously confused. "How'd we get here? Where's Angela?"

John blinked.

"John?"

John looked down at him, almost smiling. "Chas…what's the last thing you remember?"

"The damn hospital," Chas said with a frown. "And getting pummeled into the fuckin' ceiling. What the hell's going on, John?"

John almost laughed. Human. Chas was human. With no memory of the afterlife.

The cross had protected him…hell, God himself seemed to have protected him…but with a price. And that was one price John knew he could handle.

"Come on, kid. I'll explain everything back home."


AN: Well, I like it. Do you?