By Angelfirenze and ChiaraStorm
Summary: That, and Midnite figured that Constantine owed him. Like always.
Disclaimer: Nothing is ours, particularly not Constantine or House. This is a source of constant sorrow.
Notes: Major thanks to iminsanehonest for letting us borrow a not-so-minor plot point, and also to all the people who assured us that this idea was not completely crazy…
Chapter I: Conduit
Great. Just...fucking great…
Constantine stubbed the butt of the cigarette, now reduced to mere embers, into the beaker that would have to serve as an ashtray. Everything around him was so fucking sterile, so clean and pristine that it almost felt like an obligation to smoke, just to get the bitter taste of antiseptic and bleach out of his nose. At some point a nurse or someone would come in to tell him to stop it, but at that moment, he would have a hard time caring.
He lay back against the cool hospital pillow, feeling the hot smoke disappear down his throat. Better. He was sick of staring at this wall, this ceiling, being surrounded by so much cleanliness and sanitation. He'd seen things from Hell that would turn this place into a cess pool in five seconds. All the cleanliness and antiseptic in the world wasn't going to sort that out.
It wasn't just that that was weighing on his mind though. This place, all of the hospitals he'd ever been to, had merged into one. Psychiatric as well as ordinary. Hardly happy memories. Just electric shock therapy, priests performing exorcisms on him and the sheer bitter frustration of being able to See and not being able to communicate it to anyone else.
Don't get into that, he warned himself. Think of something else. Anything else.
Helpfully, the only thing that was coming to mind was the recurring question; why the fuck did I have to wind up in New Jersey?
He didn't particularly have anything against the place. It just wasn't where he wanted to be right now. Ideally, he'd be back in LA, and he'd also have a leg out of traction. But, you reap what you sow, right?
Oh, fuck that.
It wasn't even as though he'd really wanted to come. Trust Midnite to call in a favour now. Of all times, now. But Midnite had a lead on a relic. Something rare and valuable and that totally wasn't meant to exist outside of history books. And for some reason, he'd decided to ask Constantine to go pick it up for him.
"So why are you entrusting the fucking job to me?" he'd asked him after a second of deadpan silence, where he'd stared at Midnite, wondering whether this was some big joke by someone with a lousy sense of humour. Sadly, it wasn't. Apparently there was no-one else with enough psychic ability to go and get it for him, to dig it out of its hiding place. That, and Midnite figured that Constantine owed him. Like always. It would be more unusual for Midnite to admit that Constantine's debt was paid off, that he really hadn't known that that dodgy relic from India wasn't authentic, or that he didn't owe him for using the chair. But, always generous, Midnite had offered him money. And that cinched the deal.
That, and the fact that he wanted to get out of LA. It was too difficult now, what with everything that had happened at Ravenscar, and Angela. It was all getting too complicated, too involving. So, though he wasn't going to say this to Midnite, he probably would have gone to pick up the relic anyway, just to have an excuse to leave. It had seemed easy. Get in, grab the relic, and get out. A simple enough mission.
It would have been so much simpler if Midnite had warned him that the damned thing was in a church. And that it was protected by half-breed angels. And then he realised why he had been sent there. Midnite was neutral – painfully so – and it would take someone who was already damned to do something like steal from the angels.
Fuckwit. With friends like him, who needs enemies?
So, it was time for a hasty exit. Unfortunately, it's really hard to see when you've got angel feathers flying into your eyes. As he found out. So it was really the combination of feathers, bad timing, the road outside, the heavy rain and his sheer fucking bad luck that meant that that SUV had rammed into him. And he hadn't even seen until the thing had been right on top of him. Slick. Very. Especially now that his left leg was in traction, and he was stuck in a fucking hospital. The paramedics and two nurses to date had told him that he was lucky, and the next person who did…well, he wouldn't be accountable for his actions. Luck was a relative term.
And so now, now that he was just feeling like crap, with pain shooting down his leg and annoyance and cynicism eating into his brain, he decided to fuck it up royally. Like the cherry on top of the cake. The pain was like a knife in his lungs, willing him to pick up that little, seemingly harmless white stick and take in the hot smoke that seemed so very life-giving, ironically.
So he was stuck here, in Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital – Christ, what a name – with one leg in traction, possibly a few dozen pissed half-breed angels after him and with a lot of time to kill. Which was part of the reason for the cigarettes, he told himself. But inside he knew that that was a crock. It was addiction, plain and simple. And that was a little side effect of the Devil's plan. He removed his cancer, left the addiction for him to deal with. Torture. Pure, exquisite torture. But, hey, he was Lucifer, that was his job.
A gaggle of people went by his window – white coats, just more doctors. He wouldn't have paid any attention to them, except that he sensed something from one of them. Not something on the human spectrum of emotions, although there was some of that mixed up in there. But underlying that thin façade was something else. Something he'd sensed far too often before. Something demonic.
The group of doctors rounded a corner, and slowly the influence faded. But it was there, unmistakably so. Which meant that there was something in this hospital that interested the half-breeds. Which couldn't be good. Which meant, more fucking trouble, the kind that only he could avert.
John lay back on the hospital bed, staring at the ceiling with a mixture of bitterness, cynicism and his own personal brand of emotion, which was called 'fuck-it-all'. It all had to happen at once. Especially when he was hundreds of miles from LA, and knew absolutely no-one here who could help him.
Great. More fucking trouble…