John never expected it to come to this.
All he wanted was a few moments' peace. It didn't seem too much to ask, to borrow some angelic energy so he wouldn't have to face the visions and nightmares.
He never meant to take it this far.
"He's not going to wake up, John."
Midnite's voice was barely there, a memory, repeating the same words in his head over and over. His words were sympathetic, his tone was an accusation. He'd told John a hundred times, a thousand times that something like this wasn't going to work, and that even if it did it would cause irreparable damage.
John didn't listen.
The sounds of traffic and a booming party across the street were muted in his ears as he traced his fingers down soft feathers, watching the young man's face for any reaction, any sign of the life that had been there.
John kept walking, though he couldn't keep a smirk from gracing his features.
"Hey, John, slow down, wouldya?"
John finally slowed down and mock-sighed, giving his former apprentice a look.
"Even after you die, you're still tagging along?"
Chas grinned, the winds fluttering the feathers on his wings ever-so-slightly. "Even after I die, you're still an asshole?"
"Touché," John said with a single nod of his head. "What do you need?"
"You know I don't keep that stuff-"
"I hid it in your freezer."
John chuckled, pulling out his keys as they reached the bowling alley. "Fine, kid. Get that stuff out of my fridge and get lost. Midnite's coming over for a meeting."
"The king is leaving his castle? The world must be ending."
"No, actually, I have better whiskey."
John opened the door and Chas practically skipped to the refrigerator, opening it up and fishing around until he found the pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream stashed in the back. He grabbed a used spoon from the counter, and then jumped up to sit on the table and dig in to the ice cream.
"Anything exciting happen while I've been gone?"
"You've only been gone a couple weeks, Chas."
"A lot can happen in a couple weeks."
John poured himself a half glass of whiskey, avoiding staring at the half-angel sitting on his kitchen table. "You haven't been watching from some Heavenly cloud?"
"It's not like Monty Python, John. I can't just open up a hole in the clouds, grab a bag of popcorn and spy on people when they get it on."
"Why do you have to relate everything to sex?"
"I'm a fuckin' teenager. I don't relate everything to sex, everything is related to sex."
A knock on the door cut John off before he could get out a snarky reply, and he could sense Midnite outside the door. That kind of presence was hard to miss.
"Come on in," he called out, and Midnite walked in as Chas practically buried his face in the container of ice cream, shoveling it in as if he hadn't eaten in days.
"Running a soup kitchen for homeless angels?" Midnite asked with a smirk, the bitterly sweet smell of cigar smoke flooding the room, a half-smoked cigar barely held between his lips.
"Just got a walking, talking, flying garbage disposal," John said, pinching Chas's wing. "Out, kid. I've got business to do here."
Chas lifted his head, giving John the best puppy dog eyes he could manage. "But John…"
"No buts. Out."
Chas sighed heavily. "Fine. But I'm coming back later for the rest of my ice cream stash."
Of course, by the time John had asked this question, Chas was already out the door. Midnite had already begun to unpack the bag he brought, an array of small boxes on the table.
"These were just sent to me from Israel," Midnite said, carefully setting out the last of the seven boxes. "Your standard relics. No big mysteries here."
John snorted. "Good. The last time you gave me a so-called mystery relic, I ended up being a cat magnet."
"Can't say I didn't warn you," Midnite said with a shrug, opening the first box. "This one will go for 700. It's a copy of the book of Job, written many centuries ago…"
And so the bartering began. John bought three out of the first six relics, stashing them away as Midnite explained each one. By the time they got to the seventh one, John was pretty sure he wouldn't be interested- the thing simply looked like a leaf pendant on a string, pretty beat up.
"This one is a rarity," Midnite started, lifting the necklace from the box. "This was found entombed with the remains of a cousin of the disciple Matthew. I did some research, and found that it has a very interesting use indeed."
John was busy trying to ignore the urge to grab Midnite's cigar and take a drag off it. "Enough with the melodramatics. What's it do?"
"It uses spiritual energy to create psychic blocks."
That certainly peaked John's attention. He stepped forward and took the pendant from Midnite's hands. "It what?"
"Just what I said. A powerful psychic could use this pendant to channel energy from a spiritual source and use it to lessen psychic visions," Midnite said with a shrug. "For example…you could set that pendant on any one of the relics you just bought from me, or leave it sitting in a glass of holy water for temporary and partial relief from your psychic visions."
John nodded, trying not to look all that interested. "How much?"
"I won't go under five thousand for this one, John. I'm not an idiot," Midnite said. He obviously knew that for an artifact like this, with that kind of potential, John would pay any price.
John practically growled, but moments later walked over to the counter and pushed the microwave aside. Behind it was a safe, and John opened it and pulled out a stack of bills, counting them carefully.
"Five grand. It's all there," he said, handing the wad of bills over to Midnite.
Midnite began to gather the unbought relics, watching as John turned the pendant over in his hands.
"Use it sparingly," he suddenly said, breaking John out of his thoughts.
"It hasn't been tested for long term use. Only use it when you must."
John nodded, but inside he was just laughing. He knew better than to abuse relics, he'd done it before, and it never ended well.
That relic was as bad as the cigarettes. It was an absolute addiction.
But like nicotine, it was taking more and more to have the same effect.
At first he just set the pendant on one of the relics he'd bought from Midnite, leaving it there as he went about the daily business in his apartment. He immediately noticed the difference; the real world was clearer, the voices in his mind were muddled, barely understandable.
But soon that effect began to wear off.
He then dropped the relic in a glass of holy water, and once again that clear, fresh-air feeling was back. He could relax unlike ever before, and for once he just sat back and breathed deeply, enjoying these newfound sensations of being closer to normal.
It still didn't last. The relic began to wear off again. John found his hands shaking and his mind on edge, as if he were going through withdrawal all over again.
The door opening pulled John from his frantic search to find new holy fuel for the relic, and it was like a message hit him straight from God.
Chas walked over to the refrigerator. He was talking, but John couldn't quite hear what he was saying. He was too out of it, too desperate to understand.
"John? Are you even listening?"
"I got you something, Chas."
Chas looked like John had just admitted to being a transvestite. His jaw dropped and his eyes widened.
"You? You got me something?"
Don't do this, John, you don't know what you're doing, John thought, but by then he'd already extended his open hand to Chas, the necklace in his palm. Chas stared at him warily, glancing down at the offered pendant.
"You got me…jewelry?" he asked skeptically. "Are you okay, John? Are you sick?"
"I'm fine. I'm absolutely fine. Is it so bad that I wanted to do something nice for once?"
Chas hesitated, still uncertain. John decided to give him another nudge.
"Chas…just take it. Do you always have to be so damn analytical?"
Chas smirked, and then took the necklace from John's hand, and John immediately felt a flood of power surge through his. The voices were gone, those dark corners of his mind seemed lit by Heaven's light…it was like being born again.
"Kinda cool lookin'. Is it a relic?"
John took a deep breath. "It is. I don't really have any use for it, wanted you to have it," he said a bit shakily.
Chas put the pendant around his neck, tucking it under his shirt. The feeling in John intensified.
"I should die more often, if you're gonna start randomly giving me stuff," Chas said with a grin, and John smiled weakly.
"You know, Chas, now that you've got God on your side, I think I could use your help a bit more often…"