Calling All Angels
Buffy didn't end up in heaven, but in HELL itself. Unfortunately, she endangers the balance. Now, both sides have to give in to gain the help of the one man who can walk into Hell and back out again - John Constantine.Disclaimer:
BtVS belongs to Joss Whedon and Constantine is the product of the James Delano and Garth Ennis comic books Hell Blazer, and produced by Warner Brothers Entertainment.Author's Notes:
It takes place before the Constantine movie; I've taken a poetic license with this story. So please no flames. It will interface with AtS and BtVS, but they are more as the back-story. This story focuses on Buffy and Constantine. Nothing that happened in Season 6 and 7 will take place, so please don't expect it.
Please, understand I am not Catholic. I've done numerous searches into Archangels, angels, and the like. As a final note, I'm in no way disregarding or promoting any religious belief. No insult is meant by this story and its content.
Buffy kissed Dawn good-bye before jumping into the swirling vortex that led to the hell dimension Glory called home. Pain more intense than anything she could imagine wracked her body, as the ground sped up to greet her rapid descent. Her small body hit with enough force to leave an impression on the solid rock floor.
Something landed beside her with the soft tinkling sound of metal. It was the knife Doc had used to cut Dawn.
Gazing up at the platform, they witnessed the vortex snap shut. Spike crawled toward the structure, intent on reaching his Niblet. He sighed with relief when he saw her slowly walk down the steps. Dawn silently sat down beside him. His dark blue eyes searched for the Slayer. Spike turned to Dawn, unable to believe what he saw there; he turned to the others and saw the same shell-shocked look on their faces. He felt his heart break, knowing his promise to watch after the Niblet was all that kept him from greeting the sun.
Giles walked over and picked up Dawn, while Tara and Willow helped Spike. Silent tears fell down their faces as it slowly soaked in that the person who protected, befriended and gave their lives meaning was gone.
Buffy slowly crawled to her hands and knees. Her fingers landed on the silver knife, and automatically wrapped around the hilt as she shakily got to her feet. Trying to see her surroundings better, her eyes squinted in an effort to adjust to the darkness. A circle of light directly above her head provided the only light in the otherwise pitch-black surroundings. Buffy took a tentative step, and the light followed her. She looked up, but couldn't figure out where it was coming from.
Shrugging her shoulder, she started walking over the seemingly endless rubble. Buffy clasped the knife ready to respond to an attack from any direction. The journey to find information began with shaky steps that continued to grow stronger with each one that followed.
A hellhound watched the new arrival from several yards away. Saliva dripped from sharp canines. Its mouth appeared to turn upward into a hungry grin. Red eyes gleamed in the dark, soon joined by several others. The pack followed their leader's stance by hunching their legs, ready to attack the latest victim of their portion of HELL.
Buffy stopped when her fingertips started tingling. Strong legs bent slightly at the knees while muscles flexed then tightened throughout a small body created as Earth's ultimate weapon against the darkness.
The pack leader pushed off the boulder into a giant leap, landing before the strange creature. Its head titled as it sniffed the air. The scent was strange to this world. It emitted a deep growl, which elicited a laugh.
"What are you, Frankendog? Looks like the Doctor forgot to put in the rest of your brain."
The hound wasn't sure what to do next. The very sight of him should cause this being to stink of fear. The pack sniffed the air as if they were a singular entity. The leader looked over its shoulder, and one thought went through their minds - ATTACK! Before the others could join him, the leader pounced. Buffy’s lips curled into a feral grin. Smoothly spinning out of the way, she brought the knife up to meet her attacker. A clean slice took off its front paw, causing the hound to howl in anger and pain.
"Ooh, the poor doggy got a booboo. Maybe, you should go find someone else to play with."
Buffy slowly advanced on the wounded demon. The other pack members growled, moving forward as a single unit. Baring their teeth, a rumble emitted from their chests.
"I guess your friends want to play too. Don't die on me, I'll be back to finish the job."
She kicked one beast in the head, while she used the knife on yet another. The blood sent them into a feeding frenzy, which caused them all to jump at her. Their speed and pack mentality impressed Buffy. Her stray thoughts coalesced into one thought – kick ass. Adrenaline spiked her powerful blood.
She punched, kicked and cut whatever came near her. Buffy felt as if she moved in slow motion. Every move the hellhounds made, she easily countered. She saw them move before they actually did so. Her senses were always at high alert when she fought. This was different. It was almost as if she moved seconds before them. Her thoughts distracted her enough that her opponent got in a lucky strike.
Claws raked her arm, and Buffy winced as she waited for the pain to hit. It never came. Howls filled the air, and the demon jumped away from her. Buffy whipped around, following the beast's retreat. It sent her blood outward in scarlet arcs. The drops glowed as they scattered about her like rain drops. Her blood melted anything it hit, the broken ground or demonic flesh.
Buffy didn't notice their plight as she sliced through them like butter. She paused barely even breathing hard, when only the injured leader remained. She strolled over, crouched down and simply slit its throat. Her eyes widened as she watched the carcasses fade from sight.
"Way freaky, I wonder if they come back like Dracula. "
With no other choice, she continued in the direction she was previously heading. Buffy tried to slide the knife in the back of her pants, when she realized she wasn't wearing any. Looking down, she found some strange golden material wrapped around her body. It barely reached mid-thigh. Her fingers immediately did their own search. They traced the material to her chest where it barely covered her breasts. It was the first time she was thankful for her under abundance. Her continued search found the "dress" held on by some type of beaded choker. Buffy reached over her shoulder, and felt bare skin beneath her fingers. So involved in discovering her current clothing or lack there of, Buffy hadn’t noticed her other adornments.
Buffy slowly lowered her arms. Her eyes grew wide at what she saw. An intricate gold bracer wrapped around her right wrist. It reached halfway up her arm. She brought it closer for inspection. Swirling symbols curled into each other to create a beautiful design. It didn’t represent anything she had ever seen before, and wished she had Giles here to tell her what it meant.
No, she knew thinking about him, or the others only led to badness. Buffy had to accept her fate, and ignored thoughts of home as she continued her inspection. She racked up more strangeness on her Buffy scale – her skin. Who knew going to hell included getting a suntan? It was deep gold, much darker than her normal golden tan. Buffy stretched her arms out to admire her new skin tone. Her eyes almost bulged out of her head, when she noticed the strange tattoo on her right bicep. It resembled a Chinese character and was the same shade as her 'dress'.
"This place is giving me the wiggins."
Buffy turned around, searching her surroundings. She looked up then down, grumbling under her breath.
"Is this dress supposed to embarrass me?"
She shrugged at the outfit; she had worn shorter, though not as sheer. It would probably keep her cool in the Hell, she now called home.
"The tan is cool, but I'm not crazy about the tattoo."
Buffy had no way to know her hair had paled until it was almost white, and that the strange light followed her. The Slayer couldn’t conceive the changes landing in HELL would cause her.
Lucifer looked at the creature who had invaded his world and wasn't happy. He wasn't sure how it had happened, but he damned sure planned on finding the answer.
This could cause the balance to tip too far, and his army wasn't ready, yet. No, the End of Days would come when he was stronger. As abhorrent as it was for him, Lucifer sent Balam, one of the last kings of Hell, to request a meeting.
This must stop before it caused him to play a hand he knew he couldn't win. Losing wasn't an option, not this time. He would win the battle and rule over Hell and Earth.
Archangel Michael watched as one of Earth's protectors sacrificed her life to save the world. He waited at the pearly gates to welcome her home. She never arrived.
After quickly searching the cosmos, shock resounded through Heaven to discover she was in Hell. How could this have happened? The Chosen Warriors were destined for paradise as their final reward.
Michael worried about the repercussions, not only to the Slayer, but also to the balance. He had watched over this particular girl from the first moment of her calling. Her exceptional skills and giving heart were a powerful combination that had led her to victory when others would have failed.
Now, with this latest development, she became what all Slayers held within their power to become - a Warrior Angel. Michael wasn't sure how to proceed. He must ensure the Chosen One's release from Hell. Any from the nine choirs of angels was unable to enter Hell. Laws created upon its inception forbade either side from venturing into the other's boundaries.
Half-breeds, Guardian Angels, or sub-level demons, were the soldiers placed on Earth to influence man towards Heaven or Hell. Archangels could interfere in certain circumstances, and even then, the boundaries were clearly marked. Each player had specific roles to fulfill within God's plan. Slayers held a special place in this army. Their service kept the balance after the last true demon left Earth to reside in one of Hell's dimensions. They fought the hybrids created when true demons fought to keep their foothold on Earth.
Michael moved swiftly to meet with Gabriel. He appeared beside his fellow archangel in the blink of an eye. The Angel of Resurrection and the Messenger of God, Gabriel was tall with a slender build, the palest of skin, golden hair that curled to frame her face and deep-blue eyes. She could have passed as human, except for her eyes. They glowed with an internal light, letting everyone know she was - an angel.
"Gabriel, you must arrange a meeting with one of Lucifer's Generals. The Slayer has somehow landed in Hell. We must retrieve her before she tips the balance. "
Papa Midnite stepped forward, after overhearing the last statement. Papa was a tall black man whose magical powers surrounded him like a cloak. He ran a club that represented Switzerland for the representatives of good or evil. Only people with mystical powers could gain entrance from an extremely large doorman; others left frustrated.
The two archangels turned to see the powerful witch doctor standing there. Gabriel's eyebrow rose, while Michael's face didn't change one iota.
"What brings you here, Midnite? Aren't you afraid you will disturb the balance?"
The Angel of Protection didn't approve of Midnite ignoring the atrocities demons perpetuated on Earth.
"Balthazar brought a message that Balam needs to speak to Michael. "
Gabriel glanced at Michael, wondering what would cause the commanders of Heaven and Hell's armies agree to meet. The situation must be dire.
Michael bowed his head, understanding what was happening. Things move differently in the upper and lower realms. A day in Hell equaled one Earth year. It was imperative that the Slayer left as soon as possible.
John Constantine fought the soldier demon trying to come through a thirteen-year-old girl. The demon continued to scream and curse at him, while several men positioned a large mirror over the bed.
"Close your eyes, whatever you do, don't look!" he ordered the helpers and audience crowded in the narrow hallway.
After performing the exorcism, the demon tried to escape, but found itself trapped in the mirror. John pulled on the rope only to discover the mirror wouldn't fit through the window. The soldier demon pounded on the glass, and John was quickly running out of time. He pulled with all his might, finally feeling the mirror shoot through the window. An unholy scream filled the air as the mirror plummeted to the ground. It shattered into a thousand pieces effectively sending its prisoner back to Hell where it belonged.
The girl's mother rushed into the room to kiss John's hand. He never knew what to do in situations like this. He could save someone from dying of unimaginable pain, but he couldn't save himself. Shaking a cigarette from a crumpled pack, John lit it and inhaled the first puff as if it were nirvana. He walked down the hall where people parted to allow him to pass. This reaction was normal. People either considered him cursed or blessed. He knew the answer; his gift was a curse.
John could see what lay beneath a person's skin; demons, and angels alike. He saw his first half-breed, a demon, when he was five. Riding the bus with his parents, he saw an elderly woman's face change to a decayed mask. His parents didn't believe him. They tried to get him help, which eventually led to his suicide at seventeen. John slit his wrists, unknowingly sentencing his soul to Hell.
They say he was dead for only two minutes, but that was a lifetime in Hell. Now, his mission centered on killing enough evil to balance the scales. The problem was that once Hell marked your soul, Lucifer didn't let it go. John talked to Gabriel regularly, hoping his status had changed. The Archangel never said the words he longed to hear.
His good friend Father Hennesy, better known as Ether, stood waiting in the lobby. The portly priest fought his own demons. Born with a psychic gift, Hennesy turned to liquor to drown out the voices that screamed at him daily. He joined the priesthood; hoping divine intervention would help him. Ether was wrong. Constantine found an ancient amulet that caused the voices to stop. He would do anything for John, well, anything within reason.
"I found you a good one, didn't I?"
Ether had a sweet, round face that only looked right when he smiled.
"We have problems, Ether. I just exorcised a soldier demon from a teenaged girl," John told his friend, in his straightforward way.
"But that's impossible! They can't cross into this realm. Are you sure, John? Of course, you're sure, if anyone knows, you do. What can I do to help?"
Ether would do whatever he could for John. At times, he felt Constantine was his only friend. John stared at the charm around the priest's neck causing Ether to pale. A shaking hand clasped it like a lifeline.
"I need you, Ether. I need you to listen to the voices, to find out what's going on here. If more soldiers try this eventually one will get through, then we're all fucked. He walked outside, climbed into a taxicab and lit another cigarette. The mystical warrior couldn't go for more than two minutes without lighting up.
"You could have warned me you planned to launch a huge mirror at me."
The driver a young man in his early twenties, complained at Constantine constantly keeping him in the dark. He wore a leather beret over shaggy blonde hair, thinking it made him look dangerous. It didn’t. A book on arcane occultism lay open on the dashboard. The front seat held tarot cards, and other supernatural paraphernalia.
"When are you going to let me help, Constantine? I've read the books, and know what to do. Come on, Constantine, give me a shot."
His baby-faced features begged John to allow him to follow his hero's example.
Closing deep brown eyes and releasing a long trail of smoke, John sighed. "There aren't enough books in the world to prepare you for the real thing, Chas. Just drive to where I tell you."
He barked the orders then leaned back against the seat to stare out the window. Chas frowned at once again being turned down, before following Constantine's directions. He pulled to a stop front of a club that he never even knew existed.
Buffy fought toward the building she saw in the distance. Every step brought more demons ready to turn her into kibbles. She wasn't sure what she had expected Glory's home to look like, but this sure as hell wasn't it. Why would the hell goddess fight so hard to get here? Buffy had imagined she would face different demons than those on Earth. She also thought people would inhabit this world, well, some type of people.
A scream caused Buffy to stop in her tracks. It sounded decidedly human to her. She took off running in a blur of silver and white. Burnt out cars littered the sides of Hell’s highway. Demons fought, while fire shot from the ground. The demons stopped to turn as she zoomed by them. They sniffed the air, trying to determine what had come to Hell. It didn't smell like anything they remembered in this pit of hate, fear and despair.
It smelled like - HOPE.
Buffy rushed into a scene, which stopped her cold. Demons of all shapes and sizes were torturing, raping and, well, eating people. Her fingers clenched the knife when she saw an especially large demon raping a small, blonde woman.
When the woman lifted her head, recognition dawned on Buffy; it was Veruca; the werewolf Oz had killed to save Willow. Buffy didn't wonder how she got here, the Slayer in her simply responded to the cry for help.
The knife's silver edge slashed into scales and skin. Fist and feet followed it as she moved everywhere at once, only to disappear from the path of claws and teeth. While still gripping the blade, Buffy took a demon's head and twisted it until a loud snap echoed in the air. The crunching bones caused the remaining tormentors to run.
Veruca glanced up to see what her new tormentor looked like. Surprise showed in her large brown eyes. A small, golden hand reached down to help her up, and Veruca hesitantly took it.
Deep green eyes searched for any serious injury, and she sighed in relief to find none.
The AI team bubbled over with excitement. They finally made it home. Pylea was an experience, they were happy to leave behind them.
A huge grin spread across Angel's face. "I want to say it, let me say it."
The normally broody vampire was acting like a schoolboy rather than a man over 250 years old. His friends tried to hide the temptation to laugh at him. Cordelia nodded at her former boss. Angel's grin grew even larger.
"There's no place like…"
He threw open the front doors, only to come to a standstill. The last word came out in a deflated sigh, "…home. "
Willow sat there alone in the dark looking pale and somber. The usual joy that sparkled behind her large green eyes didn't show on her face.
She stood up, still unsure how to tell him the most important person in their lives was gone.
Angel slowly moved forward as if his feet were lead. Once he stood directly before Willow, he fell to his knees. Angel looked up with dark, expressive eyes, begging to hear the lie that she was still alive.
Willow answered with the tears silently falling down her cheeks. She didn't think it possible to cry anymore. The redheaded witch thought she had cried until her body couldn't produce any more moisture to sustain tears. Willow gathered Angel into a hug.
He wrapped his arms around her slender waist and wept.
The other team members looked on, shell-shocked. Cordelia joined her friend and even wrapped an arm around Willow. She never liked Buffy, especially after the way Angel gave back his humanity. Of course, the fact that Buffy didn't remember and lashed out in pain escaped the seer, who only saw her friend's side and no other. No, Cordelia didn't really like Buffy, but she respected what she did.
Fred timidly glanced up at Wesley and Gunn. The emotions swirling around the room were starting to become overwhelming to the previous cave dweller. She slid her hand into Wesley's for comfort. He turned and looked down at her with kind blue eyes, before pulling her close and wrapping an arm around tiny shoulders.
In a soft whisper, Wesley explained. "Buffy was the Vampire Slayer. More importantly, Angel loved her very much. She was the reason he started helping fight back against evil. "
Fred's active imagination created an Amazon with large muscles and flowing locks. Everything seemed so strange and new, but she knew this was her world. The one a portal stole her from five long years ago. Fred admitted that Angel's handsome face caused her heart to flutter. He was the dashing hero who rescued her, but with Wesley's quiet ways, she felt safe.
"I'll show you to your room, Winifred. You should clean up then get some rest. Buffy was my charge for a short while, and I would like to know more about the circumstances of her death.
Fred smiled shyly at him and nodded her head. She hated that he had lost his friend, and couldn't help but think about the people she knew before Pylea.
Gunn stepped up, saying, "I'll take her, English. You go ahead, that way no one has to tell it more than once. "
"Is that all right with you, Winifred? "
"Y-yes, Wesley, I'll be fine."
She reluctantly stepped away from the shelter of his arms to wait for Gunn to lead the way. The men noticed she didn't get as close to the street fighter, but understood her reasons.
Wesley walked over to join the trio huddling together. He quietly asked the question on everyone's mind. "What happened, Willow?"
She took a deep breath before explaining about Dawn, Glory, the Knights, Tara and the outcome.
"Buffy jumped to close the portal. From what Dawn said, it needed her blood to close, and since the monks created Dawn from Buffy's blood…"
"Buffy knew hers would have the same effect."
Wesley finished the sentence. He remembered another time she freely gave her blood to save a loved one. Catching Angel's eye, he knew the souled vampire was thinking the same thing.
"We're already trying to find some way to get her back. My magic's gotten better, and Tara's is even stronger. We're close to having the right spell. The thought of leaving Buffy in a hell dimension is unbearable."
"You can't do that!"
Everyone turned to stare at Wesley. Shock spread across their faces. They knew Buffy hadn't accepted him as her watcher, but they thought he had surely forgiven her.
"Why? How can you even say that? I know you didn't like Buffy because she fired you and quit the Council, but that's no reason to wish her in hell."
Willow's eyes started turning black keeping pace with her anger. Magic rushed into the room, causing goose pimples to dance across suddenly cold skin.
"Willow, take a chill pill. And, what is with the whole black eye thing? Buffy wasn't my favorite person either, but I wouldn't wish her in a hell dimension, and neither would Wesley," Cordelia said matter-of-factly.
She wasn't certain what happened to the little mouse she knew in high school, and wasn't sure she wanted to know.
Wesley turned large blue eyes brimming with knowledge and sadness to Willow.
"I don't hate Buffy. In fact, I owe her a large debt of gratitude. The Council firing me was the best thing to ever happen to me. It forced me to learn how to think for myself. Buffy was an exceptional person. My deepest regret is that I never took the opportunity to get to know her better."
Anyone listening could hear the sincerity in his voice. Willow shut her eyes, and took a deep calming breath. She slowly reined in her magic. Willow decided to listen to what Wesley had to say. She could always curse him later.
"If there was a safe way to open the hell dimension and acquire Buffy, I would be ecstatic. Unfortunately, the power needed to do just that would end up ripping a hole in our dimension. There are also numerous hell dimensions. The chances of opening the correct one, and then closing it again are astronomical. Although, I hate to say this, time moves differently on each one. Angel explained that in the four months he was gone over five hundred years had passed in the hell dimension Acathala sent him to. The other repercussions could not only be what comes through in Buffy's place, but also, what about Dawn?"
Breathing heavily from speaking quickly, not sure how long his audience would listen to him; Wesley paused hoping she would take his words seriously.
"What do you mean? What does Dawnie have to do with this?"
Confusion clouded Willow's expressive eyes. Her stomach fell to her feet, and she knew she wasn't going to like what he had to say.
"If it took Buffy's blood to close the portal, won't it take the only other person who had the same blood to close it once you open it?"
Willow paled at the thought of getting Buffy back by sacrificing the sister she died for.
"No, there has to be another way."
She collapsed back on the rounded sofa where she had waited the long hours for Angel to return.
"I'm sorry, Willow, but it's too dangerous. We should honor Buffy's bravery along with her life. Cordelia and I'll leave you two alone."
He put a deceptively strong hand on the seer's arm, and all but dragged her from the room.
"Wesley what is your damage? Angel needs his friends right now."
She struggled against the insistent Watcher. He ignored her as he pulled her across the lobby, and started up the stairs, unmindful to her struggles to keep up with him.
"No, Cordelia, he needs to share memories with someone who loved Buffy almost as much as he did."
"Angel, she left us letters. Somehow, Buffy knew she might not come back."
He took an envelope with his name clearly written in Buffy's elegant writing. She had addressed it simply to "My Angel."
His fingers shook as he opened the last communication from the person who gave his life meaning. Dearest Angel,
I'm about to face the fight of my life. I didn't want to face it without telling you one last time I Love You, and I'm sorry we couldn't share these last few years together. Willy keeps me up to date on the latest news from LA. I know I shouldn't, but it's a guilty pleasure, and I have so few of those. I want you to know I understand now. You had to leave to find yourself, and because you thought it was best for me.
I'm facing a similar situation, concerning Dawnie. She's beautiful, bright, a brat, and everything I could ask for in a little sister. The monks created her from me, from Summers blood. Dawn only got the good things, or at least I like to think so.
Look on the last page my love; I had hoped to deliver this personally, but unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. Take my last gift to you, with all the love it was given.
Always your girl,
Angel turned to the next page to find an old parchment written in Edwardian Script. Removal of a Curse, Circa 1900, W.C.
"She asked me to deliver this last gift for her. Buffy loved you very much and wanted you to have a full life, even if she wasn't in it," Willow explained, patting him on the shoulder.
Pale pink tears streamed down his face, Angel gave Buffy's gift an uncommon honor, tears of blood. Vampires wept blood only as tribute to their sire or the head of their clan. In both his personas, Angel and Angelus had never offered this gift. The only other time was at Buffy's graduation.
"How did she get this?"
"The Watchers Council came to Sunnydale because they had information on Glory. They wouldn't give it to Buffy, until she passed some stupid tests. She finally got pissed off and told them without her, there wasn't any Council. Then, she informed them if they wanted her to handle Glory, they were working for her from now on."
Willow gave a small grin caused by the memory of Quentin Travers' face.
"They gave us everything they knew, which wasn't much, except Glory was a hell god. Buffy took them for all they were worth. Giles was reinstated with back pay. The Council put in writing Slayers get paid equal to their Watchers, with bonuses for each year they stayed alive. We're even on the payroll, with benefits and everything. Buffy hit them up for the spell, and we all thought she was crazy. You could have knocked us over with a feather when they produced this along with the folder on Glory."
Angel couldn't comprehend what he'd just heard. "You mean they had this all along. Why didn't they remove the curse? Even the Watcher's Council isn't stupid enough to chance Angelus' return.
"They figured the next Slayer would take care of the problem."
Willow shrugged, not caring to think about the next Slayer. Her mind was filled with thoughts about Buffy, and now what to do with Dawnie.
As if he read her thoughts, Angel asked, "Who's going to take care of Dawn?"
Willow wasn't sure what the answer was. "Tara and I plan to move into the house with her until it's all settled. The Council agreed to help with any legal matters. We've discussed it, and Giles will petition the court for legal custody until Dawn's eighteen. Mr. Summers is in Europe, Spain I think. The memorial is tomorrow, just after sunset. There are quite a few demons who want to attend. Willy is even closing down the bar. We've tried to contact Riley, but he's in Belize on a mission. I was hoping you'd return tonight, otherwise, you'd have missed it, and I know Buffy wanted you there."
Angel nodded, thankful he didn't miss the chance to pay his respects and say good-bye to his love.
"I have to warn you, Angel. Spike will be there. Please listen to me before you protest. He can't harm humans. The Initiative put a chip in his head. The truth is he's devoted to Dawn. He promised Buffy he would protect her. There is one more thing…"
Nervously wringing her hands, the redheaded Wicca wasn't sure how to say this after everything else Angel had suffered tonight.
"Spike fell in love with Buffy. He knew she didn't return his feelings, but they were friends. Buffy depended on Spike to help her when she needed back up. Angel, he's crushed by her death, and Dawn's the only thing keeping him going. I just needed to tell you, because we won't let you upset him." Willow's resolve face slipped firmly into place.
Angel couldn't believe his wayward grandchilde had created a place in Buffy's life. Now, in her death, Spike, not Angel, stood entrenched with the family and friends. He didn't think he could speak, and simply shook his head in agreement.
"We'll be there by sunset. Thank you for coming in person, Willow. I know this was hard for you."
Angel turned to go to his room, but stopped turning back when Willow called out to him.
"Angel, I'd like to do the spell now, if you don't mind. Everything's in here and I really need to get back to help finish up the arrangements. I don't want to leave Tara or Dawnie for too long."
She didn't wait for his answer, just turned her back to start unloading candles, herbs, and incense from a large satchel Angel hadn't even noticed.
"Could you get Cordy and Wesley? We need their help," Willow talked over her shoulder, while she set the candles down to create a circle.
Constantine walked through the club, ignoring the stares and whispers that followed him. Not bothering to knock, he opened the door to Papa's private domain.
"Midnite, I need to use the chair. There's something big happening." He stopped talking when he saw who stood in the room.
Gabriel smiled at him, while Balthazar glared, causing his eyes to flash red. He cringed when he heard an angry growl from Balam. He aimed the growl at his companion rather than the famed demon hunter. If this half-breed caused this mission to fail, they would have 'Hell' to pay - literally.
Constantine looked beyond the strange pair to the two standing beside Midnite. The ex-voodoo priest seemed perfectly at ease between a King of Hell and the commander of the Angels.
"What the hell is going on here? Is this some kind of a set up?"
He shook out a cigarette immediately lighting it up and taking a long drag. John blew out the smoke. He rolled his shoulders to release the tension, and shifted his stance, unsure what to expect from this crowd.
"John, calm down. This isn't a set up. I promise," Gabriel tried to reassure the tormented man.
"Sure, Gabe, why would you be here together? You can't tell me it's your poker night. Did you put that Soldier Demon in that girl on purpose? You did, didn't you! You knew it would have me heading to see Papa for answers. What's the matter, Luci tired of waiting on my soul?" he snarled at them, shaking out yet another cigarette.
Michael took charge, seeing Gabriel's feelings for Constantine were getting in the way. Constantine couldn't move as Gabriel came up to gently close the lighter for him.
"You are right, there is something going on, but it isn't about you, not really. Someone landed in Hell who shouldn't be there. They're threatening the balance to dangerous degrees, and we need you to go and get them out."
Michael didn't ask, he ordered fully expecting obedience. Balthazar, Gabriel and Papa Midnite rolled their eyes at the Archangel's approach. They knew Constantine wasn't one for blind obedience.
Constantine answered with a bark of cynical laughter. "Sure thing, Mikey, I'll just rush right down, grab this person, have a few laughs with ole Luci, and be right back."
No longer held under Michael's will, Constantine started for the door.
"Constantine, it isn't a joke. This person is destroying the balance, which will cause the End of Days," Midnite called after him.
Turning back from the door, he stared at the powerful sorcerer. They weren't exactly friends, but Midnite believed in the balance.
"Who's this person, and why don't y'all just send them where they're meant to go?"
"You know it doesn't work that way, John." Gabriel turned to Michael, pleading showed in her eyes. "He isn't going to do anything unless you're honest with him."
Michael knew time was of the essence. In this situation, he cursed free will. "Very well, her name is Buffy Summers, and she was the Slayer."
He threw a hand up to stop Constantine from asking questions. Why couldn't he do as asked without question? Humans always wanted the wheres and whys of everything.
Michael found it rather annoying.
"This Slayer wasn't any ordinary Slayer. Buffy Slayer Summers far exceeded her predecessors, and freely gave her life to save the world. The problem is she doesn't know she's in Hell proper. She thinks she's simply in some hell dimension. The Slayer is systematically destroying the entire demon population within the outer circles. If she stays much longer, Lucifer will have no choice but to start the final battle."
Michael sent Constantine an almost feral smile. He thought he knew exactly what to say to get the stubborn man to do what he wanted.
"You, more than anyone, don't want that to happen. As you know, time runs differently in Hell. In fact, she arrived just after you left."
"But that was ten years ago!" Constantine's normally expressionless face showed shock. "What took you so long?"
"Searching the cosmos for her took time. It was only afterward we realized what had happened. Do we need to talk about the space-time continuum between Heaven, Hell and the cosmos? Are you ready? Balthazar and I will get you as close as possible to her current location."
Michael reluctantly stepped beside the King of Hell about to take his hand.
Constantine had paced the room while Michael talked. His mind ran through scenarios to see what they weren't telling him. The pacing stopped when Michael stopped talking. Ignoring the people in the room, he headed for door.
"John! Where are you going? We need you to take care of this. NOW!!"
Gabriel's normally peaceful expression was quickly replaced with panic. She should have known John wouldn't comply so easily. The man had no concept of easy. It was always the hard way for John Constantine.
"After I check on some things, I'll get back to you with my conditions."
Before anyone could stop him, he was gone. The two Archangels turned to each other, as did the high demons, wondering what had just happened.
Papa Midnite couldn't stop the deep laughter from rumbling up from his chest.
"Constantine is going to make you sweat. He'll come back when he gets enough information, and knows you're desperate enough to give him what he wants."
"No, absolutely not. It is bad enough I have to work with them." Balam pointed at Michael and Gabriel. "Constantine will receive nothing else from me," he shouted at Papa Midnite.
The powerful mage simply leaned back in his large chair and waited for what came next. He didn't have to wait long.
A fire circle appeared on the floor, surrounding Balam. He sunk through the middle and disappeared. As one of the last reigning Kings of Hell, Balam felt true fear for the first time.