Something about the set of the shoulders, the swagger he sees in the two steps before the figure ducks into the alley and out of sight reminds John of... "Gabriel?" John whispers to himself.
John turns the other way and walks fast. He's sure he's mistaken.
The second time, there is no doubt who it is. John's exorcising a nasty demon out of a thirty-something housewife, the Latin rolling off his tongue with the ease of long practice. He's on autopilot, at least until he gets to the serious work, and something tells him to look down to the street below. Gabriel is staring at the window, as if he's waiting for John to appear. His hair is long and stringy, looks like it needs a washing. He's found some shoes and a coat, which, if John is honest with himself, surprises him.
"Constantine," the husband of demon-lady yells, and John puts his mind back on his work. The demon is smirking at him, and John's suddenly tired of the whole rigamarole. He finishes the last of the Latin text, throws the holy water, and pushes the demon out by the pure force of his annoyance.
"No more Ouija boards," he tells the husband, who nods with relief and hands John a wad of cash.
By the time he's popping gum into his mouth back on the street, Gabriel is gone, and John wonders if it wasn't all a trick, but whether it's a trick of his imagination or the demon or his own fatigue, he doesn't know.
John catches Gabriel the next time, laying an elaborate rune and glyph trap that leaves Gabriel stuck in an alley with nothing to do but wait for John to saunter over to him. Gabriel's androgynous face is looking rough and tired, and judging by the smell and the still unwashed hair, he assumes Gabriel has been living on the street. Not hard to do in LA, not as hard as some other places.
"John," Gabriel says, the haughtiness in his voice sounding forced.
"Why are you following me, Gabriel? Waiting for forgiveness?" John sneers and for the millionth time since he'd quit wishes he had a cigarette.
"No," Gabriel answers. "I'm drawn to the forces of evil, John. My nature compels me. Why are you still doing God's holy work?"
John laughs, once, harshly. "I'm doing my job. Stay away, Gabriel. I don't want to see you around anymore."
"But John," Gabriel calls after him, mockery dancing in his tone. John doesn't wait for the useless kernel of wisdom Gabriel is about to offer. He ignores Gabriel, walking to the end of the alley and turning the corner into the light.
Gabriel stays mostly out of sight after that, though John sees him from time to time, and feels him more often. It seems even a fallen angel has a certain je ne sais quoi that ordinary humans do not. John knows Gabriel's around by the way the air seems to thicken and the light seems to extend farther than it should.
It takes months and ten or more near-sightings before John realizes that Gabriel's actions are a cry for help. He's never been good with that sort of thing; it's a lot easier to deal with demons - where there's something he's trained to do, something, hell, he was born to do. He's pretty sure it doesn't include catering to the angst of the fallen.
It nags at him now, so he reluctantly figures he has to at least talk to Gabriel to assuage his guilt. If he's lucky, Gabriel will still be an asshole and John won't feel bad about leaving him to eke out his human existence in the filth-covered streets of LA.
John invites Gabriel to breakfast the next time he sees him.
It's not even a real exorcism, just some kid who's watched too many horror movies and has an odd ability to pronounce words backwards. John gives him a good scare and takes his overpriced fee from the woman who makes sure he goes out the back door so she doesn't get questions from the neighbors.
John calls out an invitation from the window for Gabriel to meet him at the diner around the corner, and he's halfway through his second cup of coffee before Gabriel wanders in.
They speak haltingly over bacon and eggs, and John realizes that since Gabriel no longer has the moral high ground, it's fun to bait him.
"It's not about forgiveness," John tells him. "It's about repentence."
"I'm sorry," Gabriel says, testing it on his tongue, shoveling another forkful of pancakes in his mouth. "You have no idea how sorry I am."
"No, you're sorry you got caught," John says, waving absently at the kids in the next booth. "Every twelve-year-old kid understands the difference."
Gabriel blushes, then feels his cheeks in wonder. John picks up the check and leaves while Gabriel is speechless.
John figures he's done his good deed for the century and doesn't expect to see much of Gabriel again. Part of him hopes that Gabriel is miserable, but most of him doesn't think about Gabriel that much.
Until he shows up at an exorcism.
It's early in the morning - the sun hasn't even really risen yet. No one meets him at the door, and he doesn't worry too much about that as the demon is kicking up a ruckus loud enough for him to hear half a block away. It's a nasty one, a soldier demon; damn but they're tough buggers, John thinks, wincing. He picks up his pace a little and catches himself in the doorway.
Gabriel is there, standing dramatically silhouetted in the first rays of the sunrise; he's pronouncing something in the angelic tongue, but it sounds wrong without the weight and majesty of his angelic voice. The demon laughs at Gabriel, laughs and spits and vomits, and Gabriel continues his litany, even though it's clear it has no effect.
John comes in and starts the Latin, shoving Gabriel out of the way.
Crux sancta sit mihi lux
Non draco sit mihi dux
Gabriel joins in on vade retro satana, and the demon wails before it disappears, a deafening screech that ends on the young boy's sobs. John turns away and leaves the room, feeling Gabriel at his heels but waiting until he was out of hearing range of the mother.
"What the hell do you think you were doing?" John asks, unwrapping a piece of gum, then two, and shoving them in his mouth.
"How do you humans do this?" Gabriel asks, and John just laughs.
"It's too early in the morning for that," John says, walking away.
It takes a couple of weeks and an itchy feeling between his shoulders for John to notice that Gabriel has stopped showing up at his exorcisms. He supposes he should feel glad, but really it's just something else he doesn't have to take into account.
He doesn't think about Gabriel for another month and a half. He's staking out Midnite's, waiting for a half-breed marked for deportation, when Gabriel walks out, his head held high. John has to look twice to make sure it's even the same person - Gabriel is wearing a business suit, for Christ's sake, his hair is tamed into the sleek waterfall he prefers. He looks - kind of hot, actually.
John snorts and shoves open the car door as his real mark tries to make a stealthy exit. He feels weird, like he's just done something good.