Okay, this was a weird little project I've had rolling around in my head for some time. It's only a little fic, as I have six chapters planned for it, but this first chapter was borne out of a Halloween one-shot I wrote for a challenge at Astral Light. I actually wrote this in about fifty minutes, as I forgot about the challenge until Halloween Night and then felt guilty, so I wrote something and posted it almost immediately. Miraculously I still liked it in the morning, so I thought I might turn it into something longer. Et voila.
Oh, and John's first words to Chas are from the Hellblazer comic collection Haunted. It doesn't relate to Chas in the comics, but it sounded cool. Just thought I'd throw that in there.
One more note – I would kill for a beta for my Constantine stuff, so if anyone wants to volunteer, feel free to email me. Or email if you simply want someone to obsess with – I'm sure certain people can testify to my obsessiveness…you know who you are!
Disclaimer: I own nothing of the movie Constantine, nor of the Hellblazer comics, excepting a poster, a DVD, some well-thumbed graphic novels and a soundtrack CD.
Chapter I: Rosemary
Traditionally, Halloween was a time to mourn and celebrate the lives of the dead. To remember them and grieve for them. To let them know that they weren't forgotten. To light the candles and say the words that mattered to a deceased spirit. To say the things that were important even though it was clear that they weren't anymore.
Nowadays though, it was just little kids roaming the streets at night and talking to stranger, doing exactly what their parents told them not to do the other three-hundred and sixty-four days of the year. The spirit of Halloween, the thinning of the veils, was just tooth rotting candy and a cheap laugh in a plastic mask.
Normally on this night, John Constantine ignored everything that was going on outside. People hiding their identities behind masks and begging people for food they didn't really need. No-one would visit his apartment; he lived above a fucking alley, for Christ's sake. No-one would come. He would quite happily get pissed or something, just as long as he didn't have to talk to anyone pretending that the supernatural world was just a joke that came around once a year.
What a fucking joke.
This year was different though. The bottle of whisky wasn't touched, and he wasn't at home. He wasn't exactly out socialising either though.
John stood in the graveyard. The scent of rosemary wafted around, even though there was no plant in sight. Rosemary stood for remembrance and honouring the dead. Ironically, it could also be used for exorcisms. Seemed like a useful plant to have in a cemetery.
Hennessy and Beeman and Chas. None of them deserved to die. They'd died helping and protecting him, and that'd been helpful in stopping the annihilation of the world, sure, but Constantine didn't want to think like that about them. He'd done this a lot in the past, letting friends hang for the greater good, but that didn't mean he liked it. People around him tended to end up dead, and to the wide world it appeared that he was pretty nonchalant about that. But he'd come pretty close to losing his own life not so long ago– about as close as he could get – and he could do with reforming a bit. You know, not trying to screw people over.
Long ago, when he'd originally met Chas, the first thing he'd said to him was "Hi. I'm John Constantine. I'm not the nicest person you'll ever meet. But I do my best"
His best had to be better than letting Chas get killed.
The grass was dewy and wet. A mist clung to all the rigid headstones, creating strange shapes in the fading light. The waning moon hung like a sharp sickle in the sky, cutting through the mist cleanly and elegantly. The moonlight fell onto Chas' gravestone, painfully impersonal with only his name and dates of birth and death, illuminating what was no longer there. The lighter he'd left on Chas' gravestone was gone.
Constantine made no move, nor said anything. It was his presence that meant something here, his physicality. It stood out in a place full of corpses. But more than that, he hoped that they could sense him there, know why he'd come.
John wasn't exactly big on mourning. A lot of death had happened around him, some people he'd known, some he'd never even seen alive. A lot of demons, a few angels who'd got out of line and screwed with the Balance. It was a lot easier, he'd decided years ago, to just shut yourself off and not think too hard about death. If he could, he'd like to choose the time and place, and die for something, not of something. He'd got that, both times he'd died. But his friends usually didn't get that lucky. They just died because they knew him and gave a damn about him.
Unfortunate for them.
There was a new aura, a new energy behind him. It was not hard for Constantine to discern who it was. He could sense her behind him. Her presence was honed elegantly, very precise, but not overbearing. It was gentle, but not insignificant by any means.
"Why are you here?" he asked her, turning around.
Angela said nothing, but pointed towards a newly erected headstone. The words Isabel Dodson stood out with painful clarity, as if the whole world had to know that this person was recently deceased, so they all had to be extra careful not to walk over the grave or some other superstitious crap.
Isabel's death was still so sharp, so clearly defined in Angela's mind. It almost felt like her death made her feel more of a significant presence than she had been in life. In many ways, this just felt like another of Angela's regular Sunday visits to Ravenscar, to see her. She had the same inexplicable feeling of dread that she always had, and the same almost sense of duty that came with it. It was almost as though her psyche didn't want to accept Isabel's death.
"Just thought I'd come down, you know?" she replied softly in answer to his question. "Just thought…"
Her voice trailed off, and though her demeanour didn't change, he knew that she was still broken inside. Snapping a bond like that, a bond of blood, magic and intimacy was like losing part of a soul.
Angela didn't ask why he was there, because she already knew. She could see the half-circle of gravestones, and the names on each one. They were all almost glaringly sparse to look at, each one with only a name and a few dates on.
Suddenly, the whole cemetery seemed twisted. The headstones, put there so that people could kid themselves that they were 'commemorating' the deceased, but how many of these gravestone had been tended to in the last few years? How many were visited? How many were even remembered?
Angela looked up, as if to get the thought out of her head, and her eyes locked with John's. For a second it felt like being back on the rooftop. So little said, but the whole intimacy, the sheer need to feel close to each other was there, with them.
She stepped a little closer. They were as close as they had been on the rooftop, inching closer still. Finally, she cracked. Angela stepped closer forwards, into his frame, her head in his chest with his head resting lightly on the top of her skull.
Grief overcame barriers, was a way into both of their souls. For a second, there was no noise between them. Only light breathing and the almost imperceptible sound of a tear falling without being consciously shed.
The merged entities separated silently, as though on cue. There was still no sound, but any sound would have been swallowed up by the mist. There was nothing to say. It was only mourning. That was an action of grief. Whatever way they wanted to justify it.
Soon, there was nothing but the mist filling the spaces where they had stood, clinging to the gravestones, touching it with damp fingers, embracing the gravestones as the moonlight illuminated the scene. The mist was tangible, perceptible, and almost corporeal.
Somewhere in the bushes, someone flicked a familiar brass lighter shut and put the smouldering clump of rosemary to the ground.
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