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By Marcus L. Rowland
It was a week since the rain of fire, three days since he'd seen the sun. Something major and apocalyptic was going down in LA, and John couldn't seem to get a handle on it. Angels and demons wouldn't talk and seemed to be running scared, while vampires and the other denizens of the night were too low-level to know anything useful.
Constantine checked the phone, and as usual these days found a half-dozen messages, all from strangers, most sounding like they had something to do with magic. And all from Britain, which was strange considering he lived in Los Angeles. He'd tried tracing them back, but something was blocking him; all of the numbers seemed to be ex-directory, and spells fizzled out somewhere over the Atlantic. The real oddities were the calls from someone calling himself Chas, who spoke with a Cockney accent nothing like the Chas John knew. Sometimes he wondered about a leak between dimensions, calls from some bizarro world where he was British, but it was more likely to be some weird coincidence. Or synchronicity, which amounted to the same thing... and gave him an idea. Since he wasn't a British wizard, maybe something was trying to tell him that a British wizard was involved.
There weren't many Brits known to the LA magic community, and most of the major players could be eliminated fairly easily. Ethan Rayne was still locked up somewhere in Nevada and hadn't been seen in LA in three years. Rupert Giles was still squatting over the Hellmouth like a broody hen, and putting out apocalypse warnings of his own. The First Evil? Not exactly something John wanted to tangle with, even if it had to use minions to do its work. That left a couple of Wolfram and Hart staff wizards and a guy at Industrial Light and Magic. All three of them too busy, too well paid, and too lacking in reasons to get involved in an apocalypse that might lower property values. There were a few others, of course, bottom-feeders who didn't have nearly enough power to call down any sort of an apocalypse. And, John eventually remembered, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, who was generally considered to be one of the good guys, despite working for a vampire, but didn't seem to be answering his phone. Nor, when John tried it, was the Hyperion Hotel. Time to take a look for himself.
"Hello?" shouted John, walking in to the Hyperion, "Anyone here?"
"Up here!" a woman shouted. John looked up, and saw a heavily pregnant woman staring down at him from the second storey landing. "Angel and the guys are out right now, can I help?"
"Cordelia. Cordelia Chase. I work for Angel."
"Right. Don't think we've ever met."
"Would you mind coming up here? I need to sit down and I don't want to keep shouting."
"Sure." John went upstairs, and found her sitting on one of the steps leading to the third floor.
"So," said Cordelia, "What can we do for you?"
"I was hoping that someone here might know something about the blackout."
"We're working on it," said Cordelia. "Only I'm not really up for field work right now, so the guys are having to manage without me."
"Got any ideas about the cause?" said John.
"Demonic, naturally. There was this whole ritual thing, and this big demon running around slaughtering people to trigger it. Wes and the rest are out hunting it now."
"He's around somewhere, but you might want to add a 'us' on the end."
John felt sick. "Angelus?"
"Yup. Someone thought he might know about the demon, so they gave Angel a moment of perfect happiness. Didn't work out too well."
"Don't sweat it, we've got a Slayer on the team, shouldn't take too long to fix things."
"I thought the Slayer was in Sunnydale."
"The other one. Faith."
"She was released?"
"That's one way of putting it. Look, can you give me a hand to get upstairs, I think I need to get some sleep."
"Okay." John took her hand to help her to her feet, and felt an odd shock, almost electric, a sensation of pure overpowering evil.
"What the...?" He pulled out his cross, held it towards her. She looked at him blankly, then said "Got a problem?"
"I felt something... a little odd."
"Oh crap," said Cordelia, then shouted "SKIP! Get your ass down here."
"What?" said John.
A pleasant voice from behind John said "Sorry pal, but we really don't need any complications right now." A taloned hand seized him by the neck and began to squeeze.
"Thanks," said Cordelia, when the demon was done. "Shove the body in the garbage, then give me a hand upstairs."
In London, in a nearby dimension, John Constantine listened to a dozen messages from some wankers in LA, and wondered what was wrong with his phone...