The baby was born crying, alone, and covered in blood. Truly, a Constantine, despite taking the name of her father. John prays on the long drive across London to the hospital that the Constantine bloodline had been diluted enough that she does not suffer the same curse as him. She is wide-eyed, helpless, and far too innocent. Her mother, Cheryl, holds her close to her breasts and strokes her bulbous cheeks. Tears of relief race down her own red and exhausted face. The baby’s father is just as perplexed at this new life as the baby, but he reaches out tender fingers for her little hands to clasp anyway.
The baby will never know her maternal grandparents. It is probably for the best.
John arrives to his sister’s hospital room late, as always. She had decided to stay overnight in the maternity ward due to a long labour and Tony, her husband, had gone home. John is glad when he’s not greeted by him - Tony tended to get on his nerves.
Cheryl’s face lights up when she sees her little brother and she urges him closer. Only once he’s close can he see the bags under her eyes and her chapped lips. He hopes the bundle in her arms was worth the pain - he hates to see her in pain.
“This is Gemma, our John.”
‘Our John’ - a nickname she had given him when they were just teens. John had been upset because no one would respect his new chosen name. Cheryl held him close, let him cry hot, angry tears, and told him ‘no matter what, you’ll always be mine and Mam’s. Our John’.
John smells of cigarette smoke and chicken's blood from his last ritual covered with cheap deoderant and aftershave - no way to welcome a new life into the world, he thinks to himself. His sister holds the small buncle out to him and John, confused, startled, and wide-eyed, steps back.
"Are you crazy? I might drop the thing, Cheryl. Or curse it."
Cheryl rolls her eyes at him, "Christ, John, just hold her. You'll be fine."
"I'm tainted, you know that. Look at what I did to Ma and Dad and..." He shakes his head and his coat seems to cover his anxious, trembling hands, "I ruin enough lives, luv. Jus' came to make sure you were alright."
Her initial anger at him fades and turns to immediate concern. She scoots over in her slim single hospital bed, patting the space beside her, "Sit."
John sulks, but obeys, perching half of his arse rather uncomfortably on the bed.
"Are you taking care of yourself, John?" she asks, "No bullshit."
The corner of his lip curls up in annoyance at her meddling with his personal shit, but rather than argue, he pushes his sleeves up to show her that no new cuts or burns had joined the menagerie of scars on his arms. "Thighs are the same."
"Good boy," she praises and ruffles his hair affectionately, but also because she knew it would make him pout and he always looks like the little kid she remembers before all the black magic fuckery when he pouts.
On cue, John bats her hand away, fixes his hair, folds his arms across his chest and pouts.
"John. I trust you, I do. But you know how you get. I worry. Lord knows somebody has to worry about you."
He grunts appreciatively and casts a hesitant glance at the tiny, fragile lump of blankets in Cheryl's arms. Before he can object, she pushes Gemma into John's chest; far too large for him to be able to look down at it without feeling like dying and bound tightly with a binder one size too small, but old and stretched out. He wraps his arms protectively around her and without even realising what he's doing, he bounces her softly to ease her cooing.
"Hi, Gemma, s'uncle John. I, uh, m'gonna do my best to keep you safe, alright?"
Cheryl smiles at the pair and brushes the top of Gemma's head gently, "She's beautiful, inn'she?"
"Mam would've loved her," John admits.
"She's watching over her. And us, Our John."
He's seen too much to dispute the fact that his Mother could very well be watching over them, although whether she'd want to watch all the things John Constantine has done is debatable. Normally, there's something evil watching over him. Although, in this moment, with the quiet hum of the hospital air-conditioning, the beep of distant IV pump alarms, and the new life in his arms, John swears he can see his Ma. She's there in the dust caught in light beams, in the warmth that kept little Gemma dozing comfortably in his arms, in the way the evils of the world seemed to stop to allow him this moment of reprieve. If he weren't such a stubborn asshole with the knowledge that The Creator was just as much as a bastard as him, he would have thanked God for the peace. Instead, he thanks his Mum and lets Gemma hold tight to his finger, calloused on the tip from metal bass guitar strings.