The Finest Medicine
Movieverse, pre-movie. Prompt: 'mirth: Keanu!Constantine', requested by syvia.

The papers are all over it when the story first breaks: apartment complex turned slaughterhouse, everything from women to children to pets eviscerated with their entrails garnishing the stairwells. Claw marks along the walls, bigger than any regular animal -- except if someone got real creative with a zoo after-hours or were keeping a pet lion in their basement. Outer doors locked. Inner doors bashed in. No emergency calls made it through.

The only survivor? A ten-year-old girl. Found tucked in a closet without a mark on her, and unable to answer any questions. The only responses she gave were broken giggles, probably from the trauma of witnessing the bloodbath. Police are still investigating.

Constantine's got a different opinion. He slaps the paper down next to Chas's morning coffee, nearly flipping the spoon.

"A Laughing Demon," he announces. "Great."

Chas looks at him like he's crazy, which maybe he is. Still could be right. Constantine's never let a small matter like insanity stop him before. "Say that again?"

Constantine slides into the booth across from him, stealing one of his pieces of toast. "Variation of a certain type of demon that likes to manifest its possession as uncontrollable twitching and dancing. You ever heard about those stories as a kid? Twelve girls that danced? Witches that died from their red hot disco shoes? Go as far back as the 11th century and you'll find reports of epidemics breaking out all across Europe. Pay attention to themes and you might learn something someday."

"Yeah," Chas points out, "except that none of those stories went on to mention how all the pretty princesses went psycho butcher across the kingdom."

Constantine gives him a mocking look; instantly, Chas wonders if he going to get ribbed forever about having a basic familiarity with Grimm and Anderson. Some things, you just end up reading while you wait for a fare to knock. Cabbies can't be picky.

He resorts to looking aloofly skeptical while Constantine takes the second piece of toast, and then the knife to apply jam.

"St. Vitus's Sickness," Constantine continues relentlessly, all brittle-brisk and humorless. "Medical science says the cause stems from diseases and fungal spores. We just call them Vitus demons now, easiest classification. Laughing Demons are like second cousins. They like taking girls for their hosts. Little ones."

That's when Chas knows the day's just gone from normal, to bad, to seriously fucked-up.

He's still thinking this when they're dodging attempts at vivisection later.

The kid's in protective custody, but because of her age and trauma, they've got her booked in a hospital ward. No relatives, but the cops are searching; makes security easier than normal to circumvent, what with everyone's focus still on the main scene. Early afternoon turns everyone sleepy at their posts from a post-lunch daze. Constantine gets in by claiming he's visiting some sick relative. Chas gets in by being the fall guy, balloons bobbing in his hands, fake nametag on his chest as he delivers comfort to kids with cancer.

By the time he makes the rounds to the appropriate wing and Constantine's handled surveillance, there's salt at the doors and windows and stinging Chas's eyes from where it's been kicked into the air from their struggles.

Surrounded by the remainder of Chas's balloons, Constantine looks like some twisted pedophile. His trenchcoat is pulled askew; his lips are set in a grim line. The girl's laughing still, just like a scene out of some cheap horror flick: scalpel in her hand, eyes wild, mouth wide and open.

Constantine gets a grip on the bedtray mutters a quick phrase that makes it light up like it has a ten-pack of batteries, and then flings the glowing missile towards the kid where she's perched on the sink. She darts to the side, lightning-fast. Her screech is as mocking as a harpy.

"How'd she dodge that?" Constantine pants.

"How'd she get a knife?" is Chas's bigger concern right now, which is a pretty damned good one considering scalpels are not exactly a major accessory in children's hospital wards.

Constantine swears and then the kid's off the sink and coming towards them. Constantine goes one way; Chas goes under the bed, scrambling, and hears another crash that sounds like one of the equipment stands got knocked over. His left pant leg gets caught on the rails while he's trying to get out. Balloons squeak and pop. They don't have much time before someone comes to check in on the noise, and on the top ten list of places Chas did not want to get caught doing questionable activities in, a pediatrics ward has got to rank at least a three.

By the time he untangles himself from the bed and squirms free, Constantine's got his hands on the kid's throat -- which is a sight Chas will take with him to his grave -- and the laughter's dying off slowly, in spasms of choking and giggles and hiccups. Constantine's whispering a mile a minute. There's a rip in his suit where the kid got him, high in the arm. Chas can't see the scalpel.

Eventually the kid bucks underneath Constantine's grip, and a reddish, rancid-smelling mist pours out of her mouth and nose and ears. Her voice whimpers to a trickle, and then falls silent.

Constantine lets go of her, but waits until the girl takes in a deep breath on her own before he gets to his feet. He scoops the unconscious body up in his arms and sets her gently on the bed.

"Laugh now, bitch," he whispers, tucking the covers back in place, and smoothing down the girl's hair.