For a week he thought he'd got away with it entirely. Then he came stumbling home in the small hours (singed, bruised and pissed off; nursing ribs he suspected were cracked and a god-almighty craving for a fag) to find a bundle of rags slumped across his doorstep. An edge fluttered away from the sharp lines of a face, the same colour as the stained and wrecked wrappings. The eyes in that face were still as clear, as deep, as piercing.
Constantine took the last step too hard, hit the wall with a hiss that turned satisfyingly towards obscenity. "Gabriel."
The pile of rags heaved, aspirated a mad chuckle. "Constantine."
"Fuck off," he said.
The loss of wings hadn't improved Gabriel's hearing any. He lolled onto his back, bared his throat. "The world, Constantine. How do you--?" He lost the sentence in huffing and puffing. Lifted a hand (his fingers were like winter-bare twigs, had he forgotten he had to eat now?) to press fingertips against the doorframe. The wood was rough. Gabriel's eyes were glazed. "Alleluia."
When he lost consciousness, his arm barely made a sound hitting the floor.
John's been to hell and back out again so many times that the euphoria of escape is familiar, limited to the time it takes for the first cool breath of the world to chill the desperate sweat on his skin.
He was barely even on the brink of heaven, but the hollow ache of leaving lingers still.
Gabriel weighed nothing at all, and still made Constantine's ribs creak and grate, his teeth grit. What was left of his clothes peeled and flaked off. The last useless stumps of his wings were coming off in splinters and chips, smearing charcoal on every available surface. He bumped and slipped around in Constantine's new bathtub, and beneath the dirt that sluiced grey and gritty into the bottom of the tub there were mottled bruises on his angel-white skin. When Constantine fit his own fingers over what was definitely a handprint on a bony shoulder, Gabriel came awake with wide-open eyes and a gasp, but he left again a moment later, slipping backwards out of Constantine's grip to splash water all over the floor.
Constantine left him there. Poured a double, strapped his ribs, poured another with fingers trembling to hold a cigarette. The clock ticked; Constantine stared at the tabletop, head in hands, and tried not to breath too hard against the constraint.
He didn't look up at the wet slicks and thumps of missed footing on the bathroom floor. There were animal sounds, teetering crazily between giggles and sobs. A clammy, bony grip around his ankle, a hand on his knee. In the corner of Constantine's vision, Gabriel crawled up him. He closed his eyes, and didn't know where that attention would land next. A press of a hand where strapping met skin, firm on the point of pain. Snuffling at his shoulder. Fingertips running the wrong way against the hair on his arms. Tongue on a spilt drop on liquor between his knuckles...
"Don't," he rasped.
"Look at me," Gabriel said, with such memory of heraldic authority that Constantine did.
Those eyes were still as clear, as deep, as piercing. As mad with the glory of God. All they reflected was Constantine's own face; there was not even the memory of heaven on Gabriel's breath.
He could have cried. That might have been the biggest surprise of all.
Here On Earth by dee
All stories are works of fan-fiction by Dee. "Fan-fiction" means that she does not own any of the core creative concepts and characters, but she does heap adulation, appreciation and awe upon those people who do hold the intellectual property rights to those concepts and characters. Further, any instances of real people are fictional, and the author does not wish to suggest any truth should be attached to the actions, emotions and words attributed to them in these fictional stories.