The last and final chapter of this story. Thanks to everyone for their support and lovely reviews!
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue. Do own, don't copy (without permission).
Author's note: in this chapter, there will be a LOT of Dobson-bashing. If you like Angela Dobson, I advise you to beware. I do not like her. At all.
Things were quiet for the next few weeks—John appeared to be regaining some of his old spirit, and the shadows under his eyes were fading.
One afternoon, John had left to settle some financial business, leaving Ember and I at home. I was reading a book on the battered couch when someone knocked at the door. When I stood up, Ember jumped into my spot and curled up for a nap. I mock-glared at my cat as I opened the door—
—and came face to face with an unfamiliar woman. "Uh, is John Constantine here?" she asked.
I glanced her over quickly—I had reflexively slipped my shades on, and I knew she was unnerved by not being able to see my eyes. A filmy white blouse, low-ride jeans, impossibly flimsy little slippers, and artfully disheveled hair—I took an instant and violent dislike to her. "He's not around right now. Forgive my bluntness, but who the hell are you?"
Taken aback by my brusque question, she tried to cover it with a bland, sugary smile. "I'm Angela Dobson. You must be Lia. John told me so much about you."
If you're really Dobson, I now have more than enough reason to utterly despise you. I glanced coldly at her offered hand—then noticed the engagement ring on the other hand. "How's Miami?"
She was clearly discomfited by how much I apparently knew. What if she knew I was taking potshots in the dark? "Oh, great. I ran into my college boyfriend and we're now engaged."
"Ah." I clenched my fists behind me, keeping me from punching her or I'd send her through the opposite wall. "So nice to be back, isn't it? Lovely weather we're having. Unbelievably nice. That blouse suits you." (A/N 1)
Either she was stupid or unused to sarcasm, and I was leaning heavily toward the first one. "Um, yeah. I was in the area to see a friend and though I'd come see John."
"He's not here." I told her curtly.
Dobson looked uneasy, but glanced past me into the house. "Can I—go inside and pick up something?"
"All right." She brushed past me—a sweet smell rose to my nose and I snorted, trying to rid my nose of the smell before I became too nauseated.
"I've read about your cases, Lia—you're famous in LA as an exorcist, but not as infamous as John." When I didn't smile at the feeble joke, her smile faded and she went on. "Where were you during the… uh… events of the last few months?"
"My father passed away in New York. I had to go to the funeral and take part in a treasure hunt to decipher his will." Walking toward her, I casually slid off my shades as I kept talking. "Did a few exorcisms and got a new outlook on life."
"Pardon?" She looked genuinely confused.
"These." I stared her in the eye and smiled mentally when she recoiled then did a poor job of disguising the recoil.
There was a long tense silence—to hide my growing irritation, I picked up Ember and began stroking him as Dobson tried to make small talk.
My temper finally exploded when she said, "I wonder if John would have been here if he had known I was coming."
"No, he wouldn't!" I snarled, advancing on her like an enraged tiger. "Do you know what you did to him? You make him feel like he's able to hold a non-psychic friend—I don't give a damn how much potential you might have, it's not worth shit unless you use it—you make him feel like maybe he's not cursed—and then you turn around and do a damned Mexican hat dance on his heart!"
"Lianon—" she attempted to placate me, but I was in full swing and there was nothing short of a nuclear explosion that would stop me now. Ember meowed, jumping down from my arms and curling up on the couch again.
"Why did you even come back? You left, you damned abandoned him, and now you come back and act like everything is OK and we should just accept you back? I came back a month ago and found my best friend trying to drink himself into oblivion! He hadn't eaten in three damn days! And as for sleeping, I don't know how much he did that outside of unconsciousness! I was the one easing him back to reality—I was the one who held him when he screamed or cried at night—I cried over his swollen eyes and thin body—what would you know about John?" I was yelling, my entire body trembling with rage.
Anger flashed in her eyes; I secretly hoped she'd give me an excuse to hit her. "I—I know John well enough!"
"Oh, you do? Do you know why he wakes up screaming at night? Do you know his expression when he's trying not to laugh?" I shot back.
"I know—" she began, but I cut her off coldly.
"You, my dear, know nothing about John. Don't pretend you do." I spat.
Dobson took a step backward. "Why do you hate me so much?"
The question took me by surprise, but I hardened my stare. "Because you gave John hope, and then you shattered his heart. You devastated him. For that, I hate you and can never forgive you."
She stepped backward again—I recognized the wounded-martyr look and spoke to squash it quickly. "Just go. You gave up your place here—you have no place here now."
"I'm sorry," Dobson said softly. "I understand how much you care about John…"
I barked a sharp laugh. "No, you don't. You're just saying that to have something to say. Get out. Just get out of the house. Get out of our lives."
"Goodbye, then." Instead of leaving, she still stood there, looking at me like a fool.
My fists were clenched so hard my nails dug into my palms as I fought to keep from punching her. "Are you waiting for a gilt-edged invitation?" I inquired in my most sarcastically sweet tone.
"I just—" she began—then I truly erupted.
"GET OUT! GET OUT, DAMN YOU! YOU NEVER BELONGED, AND YOU SURE AS HELL DON'T BELONG NOW! JUST GET OUT!"
She'd scrambled through the door when I'd started shouting, but gave me a long look. "Maybe we'll meet again."
I snorted, knowing it would ruin her dramatic exit. "God forbid. I never want to see your face again, in this life or any others that might come after it."
She opened her mouth to say something—then decided against it, closed her mouth, and left. I slammed the door, then stared fixedly at the wood, forcing my adrenaline to subside. Ember mewed questioningly—I petted him. "It's okay, little buddy. Just taking out the trash."
When John returned, I was calmly reading on the couch. "You finished?" Swinging my legs off the couch, I smiled up at him, closing the book and laying it aside.
He flopped down on the couch, closing his eyes and running his hand through his already-rumpled hair. "Yeah. Finally. I bought Thai, by the way."
I stood up, depositing a purring Ember into his lap. "You keep my cat happy, and I'll get us the food. Deal?"
"Done." He tickled Ember's ears—with a purr, Ember rolled onto his back, batting at John's fingers.
A few minutes later, I came back with the white takeout containers and settled in on one end of the couch. John was staring around the room, a slight frown wrinkling his brow. "What is it?" I peeled open my container carefully.
"There's a weird smell in here," he commented. "Do you know what's causing it?"
"If it's nauseatingly sweet—" I swallowed my bite of food, then continued. "—then it's Dobson's perfume."
"Angela was here? When?" His grip on my wrist was painfully tight.
"When you were out. Let go." When he didn't release me, I calmly pried his fingers off. "She said she came back to get something, but she was dressed like someone from the red-light district and smelled like a perfumery."
John began to yell "Why—" but reconsidered and spoke with forced calm. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because you didn't ask."
"No, seriously. Why?"
"Because—never mind." I wasn't about to break the news—and break his heart again.
He put down his fork and fixed me with a dark-eyed stare that was reputedly able to punch through concrete—however, when met by my gold-on-green gaze, it wilted miserably. Realizing he couldn't outstare me, John decided to try a different tack. "Tell me. Please?"
I closed my eyes, trying to find the words. "She…she's getting married. To her college sweetheart. I—I'm sorry, John. Now you know why I didn't want to tell you."
Wordlessly, he ate another bite, then tossed down his fork and headed for the bedroom. I warded our food to keep it safe from Ember, then followed him.
John was sitting on the bed, staring woodenly into nothing—I climbed on to the bed and pulled him to me. He had a two-inch height advantage, but many people (and demons) underestimated my physical strength. Even as he grumpily protested, I drew him into a comforting hug. "Oh, mon ami, I'm so sorry…"
"Why?" he whispered brokenly. "Why am I cursed like this?"
"Hush, mon ami…" I murmured, but he kept speaking.
"I think I am cursed. Why can't I hold a regular friend for even two months?"
"You've still got me, John." I gently ran my fingers through his hair, massaging his scalp. "I'll always be here when you need me."
"I know," he whispered, nestling in close. "I know."
"She's gone. I'm sorry I couldn't be here… I am so sorry."
John sat upright with a snort, dark eyes blazing. "It wasn't your fault, Lia, so quit apologizing." He wrapped his arm around my shoulders, gently squeezing. "You're too responsible, sweetheart. You always try to take responsibility for everything, even those things you can't change."
"Probably." I shrugged—as my best friend gave me a back rub, I leaned into his touch, purring like a contented cat.
He chuckled, continuing to massage my tense muscles. "You've missed this, haven't you?"
"Damned right." I shook myself, feeling the muscles ripple pleasantly.
"Look, Lia… we've both been through so much… can we go back to what we were before all this?" John's voice was quiet and slightly plaintive.
"Yes." I closed my eyes, luxuriating in John's familiar scent as he hugged me. "Of course. You and I—partners again and forever."
"Mm." John squeezed gently—I hugged him back, mussing up his hair, then climbing off the bed.
"Come on, partner mine, or Ember will have eaten both my food and yours by now."
Finis… for now.
A/N 1: Did anyone get this line? Hint: read the bolded letters… grin It belongs to Mookie, creator of the excellent webcomic Dominic Deegan ( This particular line has been modified; it can be found at: The comic's worth a couple hours.
And that's that for this story. Apologies for the horrible ending… Thank you to everyone who reviewed—I really appreciate it. Lia and John will return, I promise—but I need ideas on how to get the two of them together! (I am not very good at romance… sorry…) The idea that I like most will be maybe modified and then used for the next serious Constantine piece I do!