In Breath, In Light
It had seemed easy enough the first time, Angela thought to herself wryly. She had her badge in one hand, other hand curled tightly to knock on that very same, battered wooden door.
That was nearly a year ago.
Things have become…interesting, since then. It seemed strange, then, how the whole affair involving John Constantine had turned her life completely upside-down, only to end up right-side up again, like it never happened. If one didn't know better, it would seem that there was nothing really different with Angela Dodson's life. Not that there was anyone to notice, either. Her life, primarily, consisted of her work. Her visits, usually paid to the dead.
Today was Isabel's first death anniversary. Angela had brought more flowers than her usual bouquet today.
Ever since they were children, whenever the occasional fighting or disagreement broke out, at the end of the day, she and Isabel would find themselves sitting side by side on the swings in the garden. And when they did that it usually meant that they had forgiven each other, no questions asked. The only time that Isabel did not sit by her side after a disagreement was the day her parents took Isabel to the mental institution. Angela never visited her, unless truly necessary, not wanting to see her twin sister's heartbreaking look, that same look she had when she said, "You can see them, too, right, Angie? Don't you? Why don't you tell them, Angie?"
The last time she saw her twin sister was in that place. When she felt her body about to break utterly and completely, the silence fell over the raging fire, and she could see Isabel reaching out to her, moments before a sensation of light overtook the both of them.
She knew then, that Isabel had forgiven her, and that she had gone on to a better place. John had made sure of that. Angela had never even thanked him for doing that for her. Isabel would have wanted that. She had always been the more honest one.
So that was why she was standing right here, or at least that's what she said to herself, over and over again. There were moments when Angela was so self-assured, knew exactly what to do, knew when her gut feeling was right.
This was not one of those moments. Really, all she could think of doing right now was copping out so she could stop fidgeting like a teenager about to ask her crush to go out with her to the prom.
"Angela. Visiting him is not a crime. REALLY." She angrily scolded herself, jutting her chin out, trying to look braver than she felt, and raising her hand to knock on the door.
She always liked keeping the place clean. Figures, he smirked to himself as he stalked over the living room. She could be so anal sometimes.
Look who's talking, he found himself thinking as he snapped his gum, looking around. The place was exactly the way it was when he was first here. Exactly. Except that the cat was fatter, he thought wryly as he looked at the animal curled up in one corner of the couch. It had ceased hissing angrily at him a long time ago.
The sounds of the police scanner, coming from her room, made up all the background noise of Angela's apartment. He went inside her pristine white room, which was complemented by the dark wood of the matching furniture. He went over to her table, case folders lining every corner. Only one folder lay open on the top, and he was surprised to see that it was a copy of the police's profile of him, stolen shots of himself scattered. He was still smoking then.
He studied it for a few moments, not touching them, before going over to her bed, and very casually, lay flat on his back, staring up to the ceiling. He did this very naturally, as if he owned the bed, but he did not move an inch, didn't burrow into the sheets, simply lying there.
He had always thought that these occasional trips to Angela's empty apartment seemed sick and obsessive even to himself, but he never really found any reason for him to stop. His desire to be there did not have to do with craving, really. Only a strange sense of comfort in her being, her proof of existence. Even if she was never there when he visited.
Even if he had taken a bath before (he could still remember the first time that he saw her, him looking just like he staggered out of the bar, which wasn't too far from the truth), making sure he left everything the way he found it, he knew that she knew about it, somehow, despite his best efforts for her not to. She wasn't chosen to become the very devil's mother for her good looks. Now that she was living with it for nearly a year, he was sure that her power had grown stronger.He didn't know how long he could keep up the visits to an absentee.
He turned his head to stare at a picture that she had very recently put up: A framed photograph of herself and Isabel, clearly taken a long time ago, and almost impossible to tell apart, if one didn't know better. He knew better. Isabel was the one with the quiet smile, the shy look. And Angela… she held herself up differently. Back straightened, looking challenging even in her biggest smile, just a merest hint of steeliness in those green-gray eyes. Beside the photo was a family picture taken in happier times. Angela had also hung a wooden cross over the pictures.
Everyone dead and only a cat bizarrely named Duck to go home to. Sounded like someone he knew, he thought to himself. Only he didn't have a cat.
The door swung open just as she made a move to knock, as if it had been waiting for her. Now accustomed to strange, deceptively coincidental things happening to her since last year, Angela simply pushed the door further. She glanced at the doorframe, saw the markings scratched out in even, straight lines, and covered with burn marks.
She had known it, but refused to believe it, and this wasn't the first time she's done it: She had known, but tried to see him anyway.
John Constantine's apartment was empty. The whole room was covered with dust, and the even the very air was thick with it. She stepped inside, looking around, at the table where he had trapped the spider, shuddered as she passed the bathroom, the porcelain bathtub still lying broken. Even the little yellow rubber duck was still there, which she remembered being amused while wondering about it at the same time.
It seemed like he had moved out right after the whole ordeal. Light trickled weakly through the green-stained glass as her shadows moved with her.
If she stood very still, she could sense his movements, his last ones in this space, before he left. The last thing he did was to scratch out the runes on the door with a kitchen knife, burned it with his leftover matches, leaving nary with a bag in hand.
Her steps echoed hollowly throughout the empty apartment. It had been easy for him, so easy to just get up and move along to the next thing. Sometimes she liked to think that it he wouldn't forget her, that sometimes he would watch her sleep and leave before she woke up. Sometimes his presence in her apartment—everywhere she went—would be so strong that sometimes she believed that he was actually there.
Which he never was.
Isabel always said that Angela should have a stronger faith and belief even in that which she cannot touch. Angela always felt that she had reclaimed something of that faith, in her belief of that greater Being. Yet she still couldn't find herself to entirely believe…in other people.
And if they would ever come back to her.
Truth? Alright, then, truth. Why would he, John Constantine, Selfish Bastard Extraordinaire, give up his place in Heaven, the place that he worked his ass off for, for nearly his whole life? Especially to a girl that he literally only met in Hell?
There was only one answer to that question no one never really bothered to ask.
She had Angela's face.
He only saw Isabel briefly, but it was one of the images that he wouldn't likely forget in his lifetime. It was so wrong, to see that face, her face in the burning pits of Hell. It wasn't right. It wasn't right at all. The image of her face surrounded in flames haunted him until the very end. Well, almost-end.
Precisely because of that, he had to keep away from her. He didn't want her to be a part of what he was part of. No. She was too valuable, knew too much. She had to be kept out of it before it was too late. He knew all these things, but…
What he wouldn't give to see her walk through that door.
The rain always reminded her of him. The heavy downpours, never the light showers nor the pleasant, quick rains. The heavy ones, with clouds full of thunder. He was trying to light a cigarette then, muttering about the twisted sense of humor of the universe, or to the Whoever Up There, anyway. She remembered looking at him with great dislike, yet unable to help but think how handsome he really was, under that frown, that weary and cynical look.
Yes, the universe did have a strange sense of humor. Who knew that she would be where she was now, standing alone in his abandoned room?
Her steps were heavy as she made her way down the stairs, which seemed to stretch downward endlessly. And then it happened—quick, painful, as it always did. An image of him standing in her room, watching the rain pour down. The world seemed to tilt off-kilter, and she had to grab the railings for support, her breath coming in quick and short.
It only took one breath to decide.
Suddenly, she was running, one foot landing heavily in a puddle, sending up droplets of water, hitting her face. Not that it mattered—the rain was pounding heavily on the pavement now. The street seemed to be illuminated with gray lights, the brief vision of him still stark on her mind.
She had to catch him. I have to catch him.
She drove at breakneck speed, or at least the fastest she could go without getting pulled over. If someone told her one year ago that she would be doing this—trying to catch up a shadow man she saw in her apartment through a vision—she would gladly suggest a good mental institution, particularly the one she put Isabel in.
Thanks to John, though, she's learned that all the crazy people belonged outside the mental institution.
She could see him so clearly, his back turned to her, as he studied the city's lights through the rain. Only a long, angry beep from a car she almost crashed into brought her to her current reality. She still had to get the hang of holding a vision still while paying attention to her surroundings, she mentally noted to herself. She would practice later. She was quite sure this wouldn't be the last time.
Her still-wet hands slipping on the wheel as she fumbled in parking, she grabbed her keys as she burst out her car, taking her apartment's entrance steps two at a time, never mind if they were slick with rain and just might aid in her untimely death. John Constantine was here, she knew it. She could almost smell him.
Ignoring the strange looks everyone gave her in the lobby, Angela sprinted through the hall and stopped the elevator doors from closing, almost crashing into the huddled group of people as she squeezed herself in. She leaned forward and pressed the faded "5," biting her lower lip anxiously.
Godammit, if she knew she had wanted to see him this much, she would have visited him earlier this year.Or even researched about his current whereabouts beforehand.
One, two. Second floor.
Three. Third floor.
Too fucking long. Hurry up, lady.
Why did she live on the fifth floor? Why?
It usually took about five long strides to get to her apartment, but today, it seemed to take twenty. She pushed one hand in her pocket to instinctively draw out her keys, but she saw the door was already open. Hands trembling, she pushed the door open.
Even her voice trembled. She called his name. He had to be here, she was sure of it. It had never failed her before.
Only a humming, kneeling silence replied.
There was no one there.
It took her several minutes to realize the fact that her vision had been, in fact, wrong.
"Constantine." It was only a whisper now. It was only then, did she feel it: an ache, a pang, a sense of missing, actually missing that bastard. Suddenly she felt winded, all that running and crazy driving and almost getting killed finally catching up with her.
Clothes and hair dripping on her normally pristine floor, Angela would have normally cared, but she really didn't feel normal anyway. Walking wearily to her room, too dazed to even berate herself, she stared at the very spot she saw him. Well, thought she saw him, anyway.
Stupid girl. Stupid little girl. Why would she even think that he'd want to see her? He'd made it clear from the very start, and she'd had to delude herself that she would still be in any part of his existence after everything was done.
The rain continued pouring angrily outside, and a heavy feeling seemed to swell in her chest, in her throat. She drew nearer to the window, pressing her forehead against the cold glass, not knowing if the blur in her eyes was caused by the rain running down against the glass or the prickle in her eyes, the sting of tears.
It frightened her. The thought of never seeing John Constantine in this lifetime frightened her. What was she supposed to do until then? What was she to do with herself until then? One doesn't get over John Constantine like a disease, despite initial impressions on the man.What did The Rules say about such a man?
It was then that she felt it, when her right hand opened up and touched the glass: A tingling, a warmth that defied the cold of rain, a warmth she could not account for. She knelt down slowly, pressing her hand closely to the glass.
We left each other messages…in breath, in light.
Parting her lips slightly, she exhaled softly over her fingers, over the glass. The rain continued pouring outside, but Angela ceased to hear it. Something was revealing itself to her.
An imprint of a larger hand, lying exactly under her own, outlined in the precipitation.
She drew in a shuddering breath, and sat up straighter, eyes searching, trying to see past the window, past the rain.
Outside, from the fire escape of the next apartment building, he watched her, framed in light and rain.
He'd been careless. He was good at many things, and he was good at stalking, too, apparently, but he slipped this time around. Why this particular time, he didn't know. It just…didn't work this time. She wasn't supposed to know he'd been always around.
Maybe her powers had grown stronger. Maybe she really missed him. Hah. Maybe it was better that she knew now. Maybe he'd stop. Maybe she was pissed. Maybe she was pleased. Maybe both, maybe neither.
That was the problem with letting people in. When they stopped going in, you'd go out looking for them. Then again, this new habit probably wouldn't give him cancer, just perhaps permanent insanity with inclinations to stalking.
He tilted his head, watching her endless eyes as they searched uselessly for him. He raised his hand, a little over has eyes, pretending to touch her face.
Whatever. He knew he'd never get over her in any case.
He said her name, drowned out by the rain anyway. "Angela."
She'd always be beautiful.
A/N: I've always loved the dynamic and the tension between Constantine and Angela, and this fic has been too long ignored. So, er, I hope you liked it.
I had to rewatch the movie, though. Guh, Keanu and Rachel are both so good-looking!