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.
Still nothing. The boy was as still and silent as he had been when Midnite first carried him up to John's door. John had been out for hours searching, but after that, he could only hope Chas would come back on his own.
It had taken a fellow half breed angel finding Chas unconscious in an alley and a revival spell at Midnite's before Chas ended up at home once again. And even that may not have been enough.
Midnite's snarls and cries of outrage at John's outright breaking of the balance hadn't really been necessary. John felt bad enough already.
Now he could do nothing but wait, gently running his fingers through Chas's hair and feathers, watching for any sign of life. Even though Midnite had taken the medallion and done what he could to help ease the angel back into living, there was no way of telling if it would work. And so far, Chas had shown no signs of improvement.
"Look, kid…I know what I did was shitty, but that's no excuse for you to go all comatose. Come on…angels don't die. Wake the fuck up," John ordered, clenching his jaw when nothing happened in response.
"Isn't God supposed to keep shit like this from happening?" he asked under his breath, frustrated. He stood up and began to pace, running his hand through his hair.
"You can't expect God to clean up all of your messes, John."
John spun around, and leaning against the doorframe was another angel- a very familiar one.
"Isabel? What are you doing here?"
"That's no way to greet a lady…"
"Well, excuse me for not setting out the fuckin' tea and crumpets."
Isabel smirked, walking up to the bed and sitting down on the edge of it beside Chas. She gently touched his hair, and John had to clench his fists to keep himself from smacking her hand away out of sheer possessiveness.
"I'm sure you're aware of your mistake," she said to John, and he snorted.
"Yeah. I figured it out by now."
John quirked an eyebrow. "And what?"
"What are you going to do about it?"
John shrugged. "I'll be here for him when he wakes up. And…well, and buy him those cupcakes he's addicted to. That always gets him to forgive and forget."
Isabel chuckled. "He's not going to wake up, John, until you've resolved the turmoil you set in motion."
"What other turmoil? I gave the medallion back, Midnite did all those spells, there's nothing else I can do!"
Isabel paused, tugging the sheets up a bit further on Chas. She stood up, smiling down at the angel before looking up at John, her eyes flecked with gold.
"I wasn't supposed to come here."
"Very funny. Let me finish."
John shrugged again. "Whatever."
"I had a direct order from the higher seraphim to stay out of the matter. They wanted you to figure things out on your own," Isabel continued, her voice still calm and kind. "But I remembered what you did for me. If it weren't for you, I would still be in hell."
"It was just-"
"Ssh," Isabel shushed him playfully. "And since I know how stubborn and detached you can be, I knew you wouldn't figure this out before Chas was lost to Oblivion. Even if you had figured it out, you might not have done it in time out of sheer pride."
John paused. "What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about the truth, John. The truth is the only thing that binds you, it's the only thing that binds Chas. His soul has no reason to return as long as you're stuck in your lies."
"Hey, I don't-"
"Please, John, don't deny it. You know I'm right."
John only pouted. Isabel laughed, reaching up and touching his face. "We'll call it even, now? You saved my soul, I save Chas's. Yes, that's about even."
"But…I don't know what I'm supposed to do," John admitted, and Isabel smiled.
"Yes, you do. The truth, John, that's all you need to make things right again."
A shimmer, and Isabel was gone, only empty space in front of John. It almost felt as if the whole thing had been a dream, as if the angel had never come to him with advice.
But he couldn't believe that, not as long as there was still a chance of saving Chas's soul.
He slowly walked over to the angel, sitting down on the bed next to him, watching him breath for a few moments. He sighed, not sure what to say or do.
"The truth…well, the truth is…I…this is dumb," John muttered with a frown. He felt stupid, talking to an unconscious kid with wings.
"The truth is I shouldn't have ever fuckin' let you be my apprentice. Look at where it put you. I told you I was bad news, you wouldn't fuckin' listen," John snapped. "And if you'd have just listened to me and stayed out of it that night, you wouldn't even have those stupid pigeon wings."
Yeah, that's right, insult him for something that's your fault. Admit it, Constantine; you know that all of this is your fault.
He sighed again, gently running his fingers along the edge of one wing. The boy didn't stir.
"Although I guess I could've let you help more. I mean…maybe if I had, you would've been better prepared for everything else," he admitted in a mumble. "But that doesn't make it right for you to sneak into exorcisms, you got that?"
Still no movement. John was beginning to wonder how much time Chas had left. The boy's skin was so pale, his breathing so shallow that it made John's heart speed up with nervous tension.
"I know you just wanted to help, Chas, and I screwed it all up," John said softly, placing a hand on Chas's head, gently massaging the soft curls there. "I screwed up everything. I used you, I didn't listen to you, and I sure as hell didn't protect you."
It all seemed to be coming out now, and John couldn't seem to help but continue. He kept one hand in Chas's hair, mesmerized by the perfect texture, and the other hand on the boy's chest, making sure he was breathing. "I'm the reason you were so frustrated, I'm the reason you died, and now I'm the reason your soul is getting fucked over. And if I could take it all back, I would. Believe me, I fucking would."
Quite suddenly, the subtle rise and fall of Chas's chest stopped. John paused, his breath catching in his throat.
"Come on, Chas, don't do this again. Don't give up on me, I need you."
No response. John leaned down and lightly kissed his forehead, and then set his forehead against Chas's.
"I'm sorry, kid. I'm sorry I never told you I love you."
"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?"
The scene played out like a movie, and then John seemed to slam back into his body- just as Chas was reaching for the necklace.
"FUCK!" John yelped, yanking the necklace back away from Chas's hand. Chas stared at John wide-eyed as the man raced to the window, breathlessly yanked it open, and then threw the necklace as hard as he could. The medallion shattered on the building across the street.
"John…are you okay?" Chas asked warily, and John turned around, grabbed the boy by the shoulders, and kissed him hard on the lips.
"Don't you ever fuckin' take jewelry from me, got it?"
Chas stuttered for a few moment. "You, uh…I….what?"
"Don't worry about it. Come on, let's go get cupcakes."
"John, I'm scared."
"Have I mentioned I love you?"
"John, I'm fuckin' terrified."
"You'll get over it."