Chapter I - Of Introductions and New Beginnings
John and Angela had grown distant since their brush with the near end of the world and the beginning of hell on earth. Angela had her work, and John had his. It wasn't as if Angela could just pick up the phone and ask John out for a cup of coffee to relive the good times, as it were. Besides, she wasn't entirely sure if John had a phone. And if he did, he wasn't exactly the sort to pay his phone bill on time.
He knew he was being watched; he could feel it at every turn. He had expected it, after what he had done, what he had gotten away with. The influences came like an avalanche at first, but after the first month, with no effect on him, they slowed to a trickle. A slight push now and then, that was all. He could deflect them with ease, but it wasn't himself he worried for; he worried about her more than anything else.
The exorcist stood at his window, arms crossed, empty packet of gum in hand, as he looked out on the smoggy City of Angels at sunset. He chewed furiously, the sound oddly comforting. Midnite was all he had now, and even then, the witchdoctor was not the friendliest of fellows once he returned to his oath of neutrality. Even so, something was better than nothing. And he needed a drink.
He sighed, pulling his coat onto his shoulders, and left the apartment with the quiet of a cat. It was a moment before he realized the absence of the orange cab that was usually idling outside his apartment.
"Cat on a table," he growled roughly, sidestepping the beefy bouncer of Midnite's bar. He walked through the doorway, his steps heavy on the tiled floor. It was barely 8 o'clock when he arrived, so the bar was dead (if you would pardon the pun). There was only a single, slightly familiar figure at the bar, sitting with their back to them.
John sat down a few bar stools away from the figure, giving a single nod to the demonic bartender. A moment later the being set down a glass of vodka with a clang that scuffed the bar top. Without so much as a word, John picked up the glass, draining it quickly. "Another," he muttered, raising a hand to his temple.
"You know, John, trading cigarettes for vodka isn't the smartest idea," the figure said suddenly, causing John to jump and do a double-take. He narrowed his eyes, surveying the sudden source of a voice.
It was obviously a woman, and judging from the warm gold in her eyes, an angel. Her face looked oddly familiar and he stared for another moment. "Come now, Johnny, you're making me blush," she said with a soft laugh, reaching for her vibrant pink strawberry daiquiri. The flamboyant beverage clashed horribly with their surroundings and John began to smile.
"It's been a long time, Sally," he said, smirking to himself. With that drink, he could recognize her anywhere.
Sally nodded her head, taking a sip silently. It had been a long time. She had died more than ten years ago, brutally murdered by the man she used to work for, all at the age of eighteen. At least, that was the Sunday school version of the tale.
The angel had been living on the streets since she had run away from her life in London, a week before her thirteenth birthday. She turned to prostitution to support herself, and she ended up earning a good living. For her pimp, anyways. When she was sixteen she met John, a twenty-three year old considered crazy in all civilized circles who had all but abandoned his life. They helped each-other, leaned on each-other for support. She got him his first (and last) real job, helped him find his first (and last) apartment, and in return he got her off the streets. But Bobby Keno, her ex-pimp, didn't like losing his best girl. He tried to bring her back, and almost killed John in the process. When she refused, he killed her while she was out one night, walking her dog. He cut her slowly, and she was found a week after she was reported missing, stuffed into a gym locker at the local gym with Satanic scars all over her body.
"It has," she sighed. The angel was older now, wiser, but she still retained her youthful good looks and nature, and the wounds that had killed her were no where in sight. She could tell John was uncomfortable with her presence; he blamed himself for not being able to protect her. "I've been checking in on you."
He couldn't help but laugh, "Since when?"
"Since I got my wings."
"God," he mused, watching as the bartender poured him another glass of vodka. "Heaven must be pretty boring if you end up watching me all day."
At this she laughed. He remembered that laugh and it brought him to a genuine smile. "Chas says hello," she murmured, eyes glistening.
John started, looking at her quickly. His eyes lit, but his face showed no emotion. "You saw Chas?"
But she shook her head, "Only briefly. But you'll see him soon enough. He's on the fast track to earning his wings. I'd say you'll be hearing from him within the week." Sally watched him carefully, eyes narrowed slightly. She could tell he was happy, elated even. "I'm sure I'll be seeing more of him as well."
And the penny dropped. John raised an eyebrow, scrutinizing her, "You're the one who's been following me?" he breathed, his grip on his glass tightening. She smirked, crossing her legs playfully.
"What, were you expecting the Easter Bunny?" Sally snorted, twirling the neon green straw in her drink. "Johnny, I don't think you realize exactly what you've done."
John raised an eyebrow, almost bristling. "I get it fine, Sal," he fired back, "I saved the human race from literal hell on earth. I would have thought He'd be happy about that."
She only frowned, "John, you've been redeemed. Only an act of the ultimate sacrifice could warrant that for you," she nodded towards him, staring into his eyes.
"Thanks," he scoffed, taking another sip of vodka. "Thanks a lot."
"I'm serious." She unfurled her wings menacingly, eyes aglow. "Lucifer, not John Constantine,had the last laugh. He wants you, more than any other soul on Earth." Her voice softened and she got up, moving so that she was now seated directly next to him. "He's the Devil, John. You're going to need some serious help to keep your place in Heaven."
John smirked slowly and sat back, "I'm guessing that's why you're here? To keep me out of trouble?" he sneered, shaking his head. The man finished the glass of vodka, pushing it towards the bartender. He didn't reach for it again.
"Trust me, Johnny," she pleaded, laying a hand on his arm. The golden glow in her eyes was bright, "With Beeman and Hennessy gone, not to mention Chas, you're-!" but John stood abruptly, knocking over his barstool. He clenched and unclenched his fists, his eyes livid as he stared at the floor. Sally knew she had crossed a line, but she didn't care. He needed to understand this. "John, please."
"I don't need a babysitter," he spat, turning away. But Sally had one card left to play.
"I saw Angela," she called after him, rising from her stool. He froze, his back to her and she could see the cogs turning in his mind. "She's not doing well," Sally said softly, watching John crane his neck at her. "She's not coping with the influences quite as well as you have."
He was silent for a moment, eyes now on the floor, "Did she see you?" he breathed.
But Sally shook her head. "No," she muttered, "I think that would be too much for her right now." The angel looked down for a moment, thinking of what to say, "I've been trying to help her best I could but-," her voice broke and she paused. "She needs you, John. You need to go to her."
John didn't turn back around, letting her words sink his, his face the picture of agony. He didn't answer her and walked towards the door, leaving Sally alone in silence with only her daiquiri to comfort her. Once he was gone, Midnite let his door swing open and he peered out at the lone angel at the bar.
"I tried, Midnite," she sighed, taking a sip of her drink sadly. "He's changed."
Midnite grumbled for a moment in reply. "John Constantine doesn't take well to orders," he said slowly. "You'd better get out of here before my regulars show up," he added, now looking her in the eye.
She stood, nodding in agreement and in thanks. It was not like Midnite to be this generous. He had changed as well.
Once she was outside on the street, she could see John in the distance, heading not in the direction of his apartment, but Angela's. Sally couldn't help but smile, spreading her wings. This was better than Italian soap operas.
Kind of random for me to post but whatever. Review!