Just a little something I felt like banging off. I've been reading Hellblazer lately, and really there are not enough stories out there, so I thought I'd try my hand at a one-shot. Feedback is much appreciated.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, but you already knew that.
It was the jostling that got to him. He was happy to skirt on the edges of consciousness, but the constant motion kept him from doing that.
He tried to remember what had happened, and why he was moving while he was sitting still, but nothing came to mind. His attention was forced elsewhere when a very large bump caused his gut to scream in agony.
"Ahhh" he cried out.
"Easy mate, easy" he heard through the haze. "We're almost there, hold on."
Alright he knew that voice, as strained and panicked as it was, and he decided that as much as he wanted to drift away again he had to take a look at what was going on. He pried his eyes open and saw what was unmistakably the inside of a car, but seen from an odd sideways angle, facing the front passenger window. He was sitting up against something warm, which was nice enough considering how chilled he was. His feet were propped up on the car seat and resting against the passenger door. Alright, all of this he could deal with, but when he looked down and saw the blood all over himself and the seat he could feel the bile rise in his throat, not to mention his sense of panic.
"Oh shit" he managed as his breathing came faster and he tried to move away from all of the red and ended up pushing against whatever he was lying on.
"Come on John, don't move, it's important. Stay with me mate, not much longer."
Yeah, that was Chas. Why was Chas telling him not to move when he was clearly bleeding everywhere? He tried to pull away but something held him in place.
"It's alright mate, stay still, I'm here." He could see now that an arm was wrapped around him, coming down over his shoulder and chest and pressing a bit of cloth on his stomach, holding him down. Trying to stem the bleeding he realized. He recognized the sleeve of the arm as Chas's jacket. It was that grey one he wore to…
Their meeting with Riggs Constantine remembered. And he went on to remember the tense stand off in the alley, the fight that had occurred. The gun…pointed right at Chas…and he dove…and heard a bang, and that was it. So they now seemed to be racing along in the cab, with Chas holding onto him and keeping pressure on the gun shot wound while driving. Constantine had to admire his friend's tenacity, or at least he would if it didn't feel like his gut was being ripped apart with hot pokers and instead he bit his lip to keep from crying out again.
"Chas?" he asked shakily, feeling weak and cold, and just looking for some assurance.
"Yeah, I'm here. You're alright, just stay with me."
He wasn't sure if he could. He was feeling lightheaded, with blackness tugging around his vision, and all he wanted was to escape the pain. "Chas?" he asked again.
"What is it mate?" He couldn't talk for a second, his brain refusing to make the connection to his lips. "John?" the agitation in Chas's voice began to rise. "Come on, don't do this, talk to me, tell me you're alright."
He focused on keeping himself from vomiting, but at least the connection in his brain finally came through. "Wasn't there…a movie we saw with a scene like this?" He wished he could see Chas's face, but he heard the chuckle, and felt it reverberate in the chest he was lying against.
"You wanker" Chas said, trying to push a little, to keep the spark burning. "What have I told you about bleeding in my car?"
"Don't bleed in the car" he answered automatically, and thinking of that he had to laugh, no matter how much it hurt. "How fucked up is it" he asked through painful chuckles, "that you had to come up with that rule?" Chas was laughing too. It was a release of tension for both of them. Besides, it was pretty funny.
"That is pretty fucked up" Chas agreed.
Constantine grimaced as the laughter subsided. "Still, how often…have I managed not to…all things considered?"
"Not often enough. What about the-"
"Ahhh fuck!" He cried out suddenly as Chas took a turn a little too fast and inadvertently moved his stomach sharply, causing even more pain to course through him. He pushed off the door with his feet, just barely coping, wanting desperately to black out.
"I know, I'm sorry" he could just hear Chas saying reassuringly, holding on to him tighter. "It's alright mate, keep it together, please. Where is that fucking street?"
He could feel his eyes watering. Fuck it, who cared if he was crying? He'd been shot in the gut, for Christ's sake! But this was serious, because he had a sense of being pulled away from his friend, no matter how hard Candler held him down. "Chas" he said with a breaking voice, "I'm not doing too good here."
He realized he may as well have lit a fuse once he heard the driver's reaction. "Fuck off John!" Chas yelled, the enclosed space of the car amplifying his words. "We're nearly at the hospital, and you are not pulling this shit now! You are not quitting on me, you hear me?! Say it! You are not quitting on me!"
Biting back the bile and pain yet again he managed to force out "I'm not quitting on you."
"Damn right." Well, that was settled. Again, very cinematic; what was the name of that movie? Giving up on guessing, Constantine took a moment to breathe and leaned his head against his would-be rescuer's chest, letting Chas's heart beat bolster him and keep him grounded, not caring how ridiculously sappy that made him look.
"I got you mate" Chas told him gently, breaking through the clouds rolling through Constantine's brain. "Look, there's the hospital." The relief in his voice couldn't be hidden.
"Yeah?" Constantine took the little strength he had left to raise his head and try to look. Sure enough the building in question loomed into view and the cab came to an abrupt halt outside the brightly lit emergency entrance.
He heard the door open and felt Chas move away from him, and experienced a moment of panic; "Chas!"
"Easy John, I'm not going anywhere but we've got to get you inside." Constantine felt Chas's arms loop around him, under his arms and around his chest, and begin to pull, which was excruciating to be moved like that but he tried to focus on what was happening, trying to stay with it.
"Hey, you can't park there!" he heard a voice say.
"My friend's been shot, I need help!" he heard Chas reply sharply.
By this point Constantine had been pulled out of the car. He tried to get his feet under him, but found that wasn't going to work and he sunk to his knees on the pavement, Chas going down with him. "Come on John, stay with me, we've got help."
Right on cue a whole group of figures and hands crowded around him. He was still focused enough to watch Chas toss his keys to an orderly, insisting that he wasn't going to leave to move the car, so they'd better do it. Constantine realized this must be serious, if Chas was giving up his keys and letting someone else drive his cab. A stretcher appeared out of nowhere and he was lifted onto it, causing more agony to jolt through his abdomen. God, the pain, he couldn't take much more of this. More than anything he wanted it to stop, but he'd promised; he had to hold on. So he kept his eyes open, watching the ceiling as he was wheeled down the corridors, vaguely listening to the doctors and nurses shout out his vitals, nothing that sounded good. He knew Chas was there, could feel his hand on his shoulder. But then they were at the operating room, and he heard one of the doctors tell Chas he had to stay out, and they both knew they had to part ways.
"I won't be far away John. You fight, you hear me?" his friend managed to get out just as he was wheeled through the double doors. Constantine felt that panic again, but then had to focus on other things; being lifted onto the operating table, having his shirt cut off and the anesthetic mask slipping over his face while the medical team barked orders at each other and tried to comfort him. Things got hazy and disjointed then, and as the drug took effect he couldn't help but wonder if he was going to wake up after this, and what would happen if he didn't.
The darkness was engulfing, suffocating. He couldn't move, couldn't speak. Off in the distance he could just make out this incessant beeping noise.
That was odd, but what would that have to do with-?
All of a sudden he felt very hot. He tried to find the source of the heat, and found a small flame in the darkness suddenly getting larger and brighter, spreading quickly around him. He felt like he couldn't breathe, that there was something lodged in his throat, but he couldn't reach it or tell what it was. All he could do was whimper. Voices seem to be joining in with the flames, taunting him, frightening him, pulling him deeper. As his fear increased he could hear the beeping noise change, growing faster, sounding more erratic, and that didn't reassure him any.
Other voices joined the demons and ghosts. These new voices sounded gentle, encouraging. Were they angels, trying to bring him back up? He couldn't see, and the screaming, angry cries of the damned seem to be overpowering his saviors. He felt hands on him, but couldn't see who was holding him down, and he tried to fight them off.
His stats are going haywire. Bring that friend of his in, the one who's been waiting, maybe he can calm him down. Never mind trying to prep him, just get him in here.
That came from one of the gentle voices. They were still here. What friend? He had friends here? Oh God, why wouldn't the screaming stop?
Another voice joined in the fray, this one clearly scared but also encouraging, and somehow familiar.
John, John can you hear me? Come on mate, you have to calm down.
Calm down? How could he calm down? He couldn't breathe, he was being attacked by monsters that seemed to have his number, and he couldn't see what was happening. All he could hear was the screams and the taunts and see the fire all around him. He managed to get a hand up to his throat, feeling something lodged in it.
You've got a breathing tube in John, it's okay. Come on, you're okay.
What did the disembodied voice know? He wasn't okay. This was it, this is what he'd been dreading ever since he'd gone down this path. He'd been swallowed up by the inferno, laid waste to everyone who had it in for him. The beeping in his ears became more erratic, the darkness seemed to enclose even more and the screams grew louder, the taunts more vicious. He groaned loudly, the closest he could come to screaming. Oh God, make it stop, it hurts!
Then he felt something brush his hair, and a moment later a hand came down on his head, and things seemed to stop. He should be afraid of it, but he wasn't. The hand was big, rough and calloused, a little hesitant, but surprisingly gentle and recognizable. The fingers worked their way through his hair, against his scalp, and brushed along his forehead. He found himself focusing on that contact, on that touch, as it had a powerful effect, made the fear fade away, and somehow the fire and screams became more distant, as if he were rising above it all
It's okay John, it's okay, I'm here, I'm right here mate, come on, you're doing fine, just calm down, you're alright.
That familiar voice kept talking to him, kept repeating those same heartening words, until it drowned everything else out. The flames died down, leaving only the darkness, but it wasn't so engulfing anymore, and he seemed to be able to breathe again. The beeping noise seemed to settle as well, slowly becoming more rhythmic.
Good John, that's great, I knew you could do it.
He reached out a hand in the dark, trying to find the source of the voice that saved him. He brushed against something solid, and then rough calloused fingers closed around his, gripping firmly.
Hey mate…I'm right here, you're alright.
He felt safe, drowsy, could feel himself drifting off. Some of the angels were still around, he could hear one speak.
You did great Mr. Chandler. It would be dangerous to sedate him any further, but he could've gone into cardiac distress if he didn't calm down.
He didn't know what any of that meant. He could only listen.
We'll have to ask you to leave again the angel went on he'll have to remain in the ICU for a while longer. I wonder what set him off like that, the sedative should have kept him asleep through the night.
He felt the hand on his head run through his hair again, and the familiar voice spoke. He's always been strange when it comes to meds. And he's…seen a few things that would give him nightmares.
Nightmares? Was that all it was, a nightmare? He tried to protest, but only got out a small moan.
Shhh, it's alright John, it'll get better. I'll see you soon. Be good for the nurses.
His hand was set back down and the touch left him, but he wasn't afraid, and sleep soon took him.
That same rhythmic beeping was the first thing he heard as he slowly swam back to consciousness. He tried to ignore it, but it steadily became more bothersome. The feeling returned to his arms and legs, and he moved his fingers a little to make sure they still worked, which they did, so bully for him.
He soon became aware of another sound, a man's voice, talking, then pausing, then talking again. He was fairly sure this voice wasn't speaking to him, as it kept saying the name 'Renee', and as out of it as he was he knew that wasn't his name. He ignored the itch the tube in his nose was causing and tried to focus on the sound, hear what was being said.
"Yes, I know…yeah, I'll be home soon…I will…no, I know I've been gone a long time…I do have a watch…I know it's been a couple of days…Christ Renee, I haven't lost that much time…no, I haven't been drinking…I've been helping out a friend…what makes you think it's John, did I say it was John?"
He couldn't help but grin a bit…at least internally, because he wasn't sure if his face was working right now. That whole one sided conversation sounded so familiar, it was actually very comforting.
"That's not fair…I have been keeping in touch Renee, you haven't been worrying." the man went on. "Can't you just trust me that this is important?...Yes…yes I know…"
Alright, he had to see this. He slowly made his eyes open, as hard as that was. His vision was blurry for a moment, only seeing shadows, but things gradually came into focus. The room was darkened, a weak light coming from a bedside lamp. He could see the bed he was lying on and see the machines causing the beeping noise. Off to his right, he saw the source of the voice, a large hulking man with a phone pressed to his ear. Even though this hulking shape had its back to him, he knew that man straight away.
"I will let you know…I…look I've got to go, I'll call you back…yes, I will call you back…yes…okay…alright…I've got to go…" and the phone was placed back with a loud click. The man took an angry, frustrated breath and then sat down in a chair by the bed, lost in thought.
Constantine thought he should make his presence known. "Chas" he tried to say, but only ended up mouthing the word. He swallowed, trying to moisten his dry mouth and sore throat. "Chas" he got out.
That had the desired effect, as his friend's eyes snapped towards him. "John? John, thank God, you're awake." Chas pulled his chair up closer to the bed. "Are you okay? How are you feeling?"
"Oh, peachy; should get shot everyday." He grinned, and this time he was sure it showed, because the driver grinned as well. "How long was I out?"
Chas thought about it. "You were in surgery for ten hours. Then in ICU for about twenty-four hours; and then they moved you in here, and you've been here for another twelve hours."
He managed to add that up in his head; 46 hours, almost two full days. He looked back at Chas and saw the circles under his eyes and his unshaven face. "Have you been here the whole time?"
Chas stared at him like he couldn't believe he had to ask. "Well yeah, I wasn't going to leave you here on your own. You hit a rough patch while you were in ICU, it didn't seem right to leave. Besides" he looked away sheepishly "I was worried."
He thought about this, and then broke out in a weak laugh. When Chas looked at him questioningly, he said "Fuck…Renee must be so pissed." There was a pause and Chas started laughing as well.
"Did you tell her?" Constantine asked.
"Of course not; you imagine the gasket she would've blown? She would've marched down here and dragged me out by my nethers."
They both had a laugh at that until Constantine suddenly tensed up as the pain started to register. "Ahhh"
"Whoa, easy, easy mate" Chas soothed him. "I can call the nurse."
"No, it's okay" he replied, mostly so Chas wouldn't worry. "That was my first good laugh in two days, I should've stretched first." That didn't seem to have the desired effect, as Chandler's eyes darkened.
"Shit John, what in hell were you thinking, taking that shot?" The anger, though contained, was still surprising. "It was my fault everything went down like that; you shouldn't have taken that for me. You nearly…" he trailed off, not wanting to finish that thought. Finally, he shook his head. "I'm sorry. It was my fault."
"No it wasn't" Constantine replied. "It wasn't your fault. It was my dive to take, and I took it. You'd do the same for me." He smiled. "And you know I was just trying to get out of the way, right?"
That got them both laughing again, and they laughed until they had tears in their eyes. But then the pain shot up another notch, and he groaned loudly. "Ah, shit, I've got to stop" he said through gritted teeth.
Chas called the nurse in. She looked things over and before the patient could protest she turned up his morphine. The drug had an almost instant effect; things became hazy as the pain died down again, lulling him back to that comforting darkness.
He saw the nurse talking to Chas before she left, and then Chandler turned back to the bed. "You'll be going back to sleep soon mate. You need to rest. I'll be here when you wake up."
As fuzzy as he felt he managed to shake his head. "No, you should…go home… go see Renee…"
There was a moment of consideration, and then Chas took his hand and gripped it. "You took a bullet for me John. I sure as shit can take a yelling for you. Now go to sleep."
Constantine gripped his hand back and then remembered something else. "Hey" he said, trying to pull himself awake again. "What about…what about your cab?"
Chas just looked at him incredulously, then laughed again. "I think that'll hold for the time being. It'll be fine lad. Go to sleep."
He smiled and let his eyes drift closed. Later, there will be things to deal with; there will be angry wives, and recovery, and blood stained upholstery and probably police reports. But right now, it was just them, and that was always fine.
Sentimental? Probably, but there's always room for sentimentality. Cheers.