lacewood: (Default)
Pei Yi ([personal profile] lacewood) wrote in [community profile] toxicskyremix2005-08-29 10:13 am

constantine - veil

For [livejournal.com profile] aefallen



"Stop the car."

It said something that Chas, who'd been scanning the street ahead for the address, hit the brake before he could even blink. He nearly hit his head on the wheel.

"Hell."

John, who'd been in a foul mood all morning (and that was saying something because John Constantine went through life with a personal vendetta against the universe), gave him a look.

"We're here," he bit out.

Then Chas turned to look.

If there was one job perk playing chauffeur to Los Angeles's most infamous exorcist, it was that you sure got to see a lot of town. Preferably the weird and unsavoury sections thereof, along with too many churches, an amazing number of temples, more new-age aliens than Chas wanted to ever see again and once in a while, a long walk in catacombs with rats that he bet could eat demons for breakfast.

And for today's special of weird, the building they'd stopped ten feet away from was... well. It wasn't oozing slime, which was always plus. On the other hand, it was built like a miniature pink church, decorated in white plaster like misshapen styrofoam, festooned in strings of paper hearts... He rolled down the window and distant organ music drifted gently out of the door.

Chas stared. Was that the wedding march?

"What the hell is this?" he asked.

John slouched back in his seat smoking his twentieth cigarette of the day and glowered at the offending building.

"What the hell does it look like? It's a wedding chapel."

Chas stuck his head out of the window. There was a billboard by the door; squinting, he read it.

"'Be eternally bound to the love of your life in fifteen minutes?' A quickie wedding chapel? The hell are we doing here? Didn't even know we had one around here," he asked, looking over his shoulder.

"It's new, been around seven months," John said. He'd bent over to dig something out of the ratty leather bag he'd brought with him; yanking something long and white out, he handed it to Chas.

"Here."

Curiousity made him take it the split second before his survival instincts could kick it. It was white and lacy and when sheer morbid fascination made him untangle the mess, it spread all over his arms and wheel and seat.

"It's a veil. Put it on," John said, then got out of the cab.

His bad mood was starting to make a suspicious amount of sense now. Chas stuck his head out and glared.

"What the hell?"

John flicked his cigarette to the pavement and ground it into the concrete. "It's a wedding chapel. They're only going to let couples in. Or couples with friends or relatives, whatever. They're not going to let me in alone."

"Why do you need to get in?"

"They've been offering a No Divorce guarantee. Henessey tells me he hears this is because most of their couples don't live past three months anyway."

"And... you couldn't find someone else to do this? Like a WOMAN?"

"I couldn't get Henessey drunk enough to do it. Beeman decided to go out of town on a conference about Egyptian scarabs." Pause. "Didn't want to give anyone else ideas."

Chas could have pondered the fact that John had exactly two people on his list, neither of whom were female, but he was too busy wondering if he had "SUCKER" written on his goddamn forehead. It was a wedding veil and he was wearing week-old jeans with holes in the knees and who the hell did John think he was going to fool?

He balled up the veil and leaned out to demand, "Give me five good reasons why I shouldn't just turn around and drive the fuck away."

Apart from the fact that John knew where he lived, and he wouldn't put it past the bastard to point a couple of soldier demons in the right direction... that still wasn't good enough.

John lit another cigarette and looked disinterested. "Beeman has a manuscript copy of Rasputin's Book of Dead Days. He won't sell it but I could probably get him to lend it to you for a week."

Chas twitched. He wanted to throw the bundle out the window at John, he really, really did... He really did have sucker written on his head.

"This is never going to work," he said and tried not to trip over the veil - it reached his feet and trailed in the dust behind him and he didn't get paid enough for this shit - hell, John didn't pay him at all, if you considered he didn't actually bother to teach Chas anything.

"It will. Just keep your mouth shut. You wanted in on the action, so stop complaining."

The lace was fine enough that Chas had no problems seeing past it. He muttered under his breath and trailed past John as he stalked up the steps to the chapel. They wouldn't have fooled a blind grandmother, never mind the two burly helpers standing inside the door waiting to welcome the newly-weds-to-be and close in behind them in before they changed their minds--

Or maybe they were just deperate for business.

And what the hell did a wedding chapel need guards for anyway? To grab runaway brides? A cheerful girl with a clipboard whisked them to a desk before Chas could do more than squint at the helpers.

"Names?" she asked.

"John Smith." A long pause. "Helen... Jones," John added before Chas's frozen mind could think of reacting.

He almost choked. The girl didn't notice. "Ah. You didn't bring anyone to be witness? That's not a problem, we can provide them. I'm afraid you'll have to wait a few minutes, there's a ceremony going on right now. If you'd like to take a seat? Your veil is lovely, Miss," she beamed at Chas who almost choked again.

"Another ceremony," John said.

"Yes, but it should be done in another ten minutes, and then we'll need another five to set things up, but then--"

"Sorry, can't wait," John decided and walked past her.

"Ah, wait, Sir!"

Chas tried to follow and almost tripped over the damned veil again. Hitching it up and swearing, he ducked through the door and slammed it behind him just as the guards broke into a run.

The chapel was bigger than it'd looked from the outside, or maybe it just seemed that way because it was surprisingly empty. A handful of pews, no red carpet, an altar - He stopped and squinted at the mosaic tiling on the floor. It was black and white and red and looked suspiciously like the sort of sigil he'd seen in books that came with detailed instructions on how to suck someone's soul out of their ears.

He hovered on the edge of the sigil, watched John calmly stroll up to the altar while the bewildered couple whose ceremony he'd just interrupted stared at him, bewildered -

He swore, skid into the sigil and grabbed them.

"Get out of here!" he yelled and dragged. The priest was shouting something, accusing finger pointed at John, hand on a huge, leather bound book - Chas wondered which one that was and if the altar was the genuine consecrated Black Mass one it looked like or just a very good imitation.

The guards broke down the door and burst in just as the priest's chanting reached a crescendo--

John yanked a lighter out of his pocket, flicked it.

Green fire roared and filled the circle; Chas felt it singe his eyebrows and yanked the veil off and threw it into the circle just before it started streaming green-blue flame too. A thin, reedy wail filled the air.

"Oh my god oh my god oh my god--" the groom-to-be was saying behind him.

Chas shoved his hands in his pockets and watched the flames die down. What had been two guards and a priest now looked like steaming pools of slime, and the tiling looked half-melted, mostly-cracked. John studied the scene from where he was standing on a miraculously untouched pew, and pulled another cigarette out of a pocket. It seemed to light itself in one of the blue-grey plumes of smoke still swirling around him.

"Oh my god," the man behind him said again before finally shutting up.

Chas gave the couple a wary look but it wasn't like John was going to explain anything and almost getting your soul sucked out and then almost getting set on fire had to be a hell of a way to spend your wedding day.

"I think you'd better find somewhere else," he suggested lamely, jerking his chin at the mess behind him. Someone owed them an explanation but Chas barely knew what the hell just happened, never mind trying to make it make sense to someone else.

"Ah... ah," the groom agreed (he still looked glazed) and took his bride by the arm. "Maybe we'd better..."

The woman looked somewhat less glazed. She shook her head slowly. "I... I think we'd better think about this..." she said.

Chas watched them stagger out of the chapel. Well, there went one wedding out the window.

John had finally stepped off his pew to cross the remains of the circle; smoke hissed from under his feet with every step. He ignored the imminent combustion of his shoes to stop at the remains of the wedding veil. He didn't look pleased.

"You dropped it," he said.

Chas wasn't in the mood for this. "Yeah, well, maybe if you'd warned me about the circle bursting into goddamn fire I would've stayed a bit further back, yeah? How the hell did you do that?"

He didn't ask the obvious: where the hell had John gotten a wedding veil in the first place?

John didn't answer, only poked the veil again with a foot then headed for the door. Chas watched him leave, studied the carnage around him, and eyed the remnants of burnt lace himself.

He was probably better off not knowing.

end

August 2005