Title: Aftermath (Part One)
Author: fatedtoflames (DJ)
Pairing: John Constantine/Chas
Rating: Strong PG-13, may go up later
Spoilers Movie: Lots.
Summary: Chas had a family, of course, though John had never made an attempt to get to know them. But after Chas's death, secrets are revealed that may force John to get to know them better than he'd ever wanted…and force him to protect them from forces beyond their control.
X-Posted to three Constantine communities(total) and my private LJ.
John Constantine had only met Chas's mother once before, and he didn't want to ever have to again. The woman was so sweet, so nice, that it actually caused him physical pain to speak with her.
After all, in her eyes he was sure he'd corrupted her son.
Now he sat down the row from her, in the pew of a run-down Catholic church where the upholstery on the seats smelled like fruit loops and puke, a church that was hardly fit for the funeral of a boy like Chas.
The coffin was open, but John refused to look. It was just a body, a shell in there, holding none of the former light and life that the young man once had. The light that John had taken away from him by letting him help.
He heard a choked sob from down the pew, and he glanced down to where Chas's mother, Diana, and his 14-year-old little sister Jodey sat. Diana was sobbing, trying to hold in the tears but failing miserably. Her hand was intertwined with Jodey's, who sat staring straight ahead, jaw clenched and expression blank. Jodey hardly looked like she belonged in the family; might've been a step-child or adopted or something. She was close to what John considered dangerously skinny, with flaming red hair and freckles splayed across all her features. Her eyes were an intense reddish-brown, almost the color of rust. Chas had many times come to work with a scar as testament to his younger sister's temper, but he never spoke badly about her just the same. He always blamed it on her medication. Diana, on the other hand, was a petite woman with kind, soft features, wavy brown hair and dark brown eyes. Right now, though, her eyes were red and she looked anything but kind; she looked devastated.
The gathering was small, but that was understandable. Chas's only family was Diana and Jodey, and he didn't have very many friends to speak of.
You shouldn't have come, John thought, shaking his head and tearing his eyes away from the distraught family. They want closure, and you could give it to them…if only the rules allowed for it.
To the family, Chas had died in a car crash. John's contacts and Angela's police friends had made sure of that. They couldn't well put under cause of death "thrown into the ceiling repeatedly by an arch-angel gone bad after a botched exorcism".
Diana sobbed again. John's fists clenched.
Chas loved his mother. She was the reason he got into all this stuff about angels and demons; she had gotten possessed when he was seven, and from the moment John walked through the front door, that kid was looking over his shoulder, asking question after question. Soon after that, the kid was showing up on his front door, books in hand, anxious to ask John to clear up a certain passage or help him translate some Latin.
John had tried the bad-ass act a million times. Like a naïve puppy, it had no effect on Chas. In fact, it seemed to make the boy idolize him even more.
So now, sitting there listening to Chas's mother sob, John couldn't help but feel like this whole thing was his fault.
The priest was going on and on, droning about Chas's life, about graduating valedictorian, about his devotion to his family, about his help with the church library and research, and John drowned it out. He knew all this. He knew everything about that kid, much more than even Chas's mother knew about him.
He remembered the night Chas had told him that he was putting off college for a couple years, instead buying a cheap cab and running private tours of the city and doing odd transportation jobs, and working for John as well.
John was struck with sudden guilt. All he'd done was give the kid a pay raise. He could've put the kid through college himself, easy, especially with all the scholarships Chas would get, his grades being what they were in high school.
He'd never offered. He'd let that kid work his ass off for everybody, everybody but himself. And Chas never once complained unless he was wanting to do more.
No wonder people call you an arrogant bastard. They probably looked at that kid and knew it right away, that you were a selfish, arrogant bastard.
The priest had finally stopped talking, and people were filing past the coffin to give their last respects. Most were crying.
John silently joined the line, keeping his eyes on the floor as it inched forward. Most of these people probably had no idea how he knew Chas, but the kid didn't exactly broadcast who his employer was. May as well hold up a neon sign that said 'Kill me and hang my head on John's door'.
Smart kid. Always had been.
John got to the front, pulling Hennessey's amulet out of his pocket and setting it in the coffin next to Chas's body. Burying his guilt all at once, so he saw it.
Hope you ended up in Heaven, kid, cause you sure as hell deserve it, he thought as he walked on by, toward the doors. He stopped at the doorway and looked back as Diana and Jodey approached the coffin.
Diana gripped the side of the coffin hesitantly, tears flowing freely down her face. She leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss to her son's forehead, and then reached up and gently brushed his hair back from his face, mouthing words that John couldn't quite make out. She fingered the chocolate-brown curls for a few moments, and then she stepped back and nodded.
They began to close the casket, and she and Jodey headed down the aisle toward John.
Stay, say something, anything, John thought frantically as the pair approached him.
"Ms. Kramer," he said, reaching out and gently touching her arm. "I'm…very sorry. He was a good kid."
That…was pitiful. May as well tell her outright that it was your fault.
Diana studied him for a few moments, shaking her head, looking almost…angry.
"Don't you dare come near me or my daughter again," she finally hissed, and then she stormed away. John blinked a few times in surprise, watching them go but unable to make his feet move.
She didn't mean it. She's just upset. She just needs time, he thought, unsure of what to do now. He'd meant to come here, pay his respects and make amends with Chas's family, but what else could he have said? 'Ms. Kramer, I'm so sorry that I got your son killed. If it makes you feel any better, I think I was in love with the kid. Maybe. Or maybe I just needed to get laid and he was so damn tempting.'
Lucky for him, he'd never followed through on said feelings. After all, he wanted Chas to go to Heaven, not go to Hell for being involved with him. Talk about silent torture.
"Hey, man, move it!"
John stepped out of the way of the pallbearers as they carried the coffin past, and he instinctively reached for a cigarette, finding only gum. That would have to do; he popped a piece of it in his mouth and chewed fiercely.
He went home. It was the only place he wanted to be right now anyway.
Two weeks later, after the cemetery encounter
Whiskey is man's best friend. Not dogs. Whiskey.
That was the main thought John was having when there was a knock at the door. He sighed heavily and forced his feet to move, cursing whoever was at the door. They could've waited until he'd at least finished his first glass.
He opened the door a crack, and his first thought was Beeman.
But no; it was just a different bug-eyed tired looking man. His suit was neatly pressed, and he pushed his glasses up on his nose, studying John with disdain.
"What do you want?"
The man sneered. "I'm Davin Thurston. I represent the Kramer family."
John snorted. "What, are they suing me now?"
Thurston looked down, and John followed his gaze to a large cardboard box on the ground in front of his door.
"Chas Kramer had a note taped to this box that said if anything were to happen to him, you were to be given the contents immediately. It hasn't been opened."
John stared down at the box for a few moments, and then he looked back up at Thurston. "Is that all?" He asked, trying to sound bored with the whole thing. Thurston held out an envelope to him.
"The note. I assumed you'd want that as well. Have a good evening, Mr. Constantine."
John watched him turn and leave, and then he opened the door the rest of the way and picked up the box. He almost fell on his face trying to pick it up; it was a whole lot heavier than it looked.
He struggled to pick it up, and then he dropped it on the table, the whole table creaking with the impact. He stared at it for a few moments, and then dropped the envelope on top of it, kicked the door closed, and finished his glass of whiskey.
I'll open it in the morning. Probably returning all those books he's borrowed from me.