Jason leaned into the rough-skinned hand that slid from his shoulder to his chest. He let out a sigh and closed his eyes, his open laptop gave off a harsh white glow and he swivelled in his chair gently as if he were rocking himself to sleep.
“I thought you weren’t due back from League business until tomorrow,” Jason said, “But I’m glad you’re here.”
“Parts of me are here,” the voice replied.
It was unusual for John to be so cryptic and Jason frowned, “Which parts?”
The hand squeezed itself around Jason’s neck without warning and lifted him into the air with inhuman strength.
“The bad parts,” growled the Demon Constantine, as its eyes burned a deep red.
Etrigan roared at the deception from Jason’s mind and he did well to keep his counterpart in check as he began to see through the Demon’s form to its natural state. Long, twisted nails protruded from flesh which seemed to be falling off in some parts. The stench of the other being filled the room and mixed with John’s usual stink of cigarettes and old trench coats in such a way that it made John’s - the real John’s - familiarity fade into disgust. Jason hated the imposter for it.
“How did you get in here? The House is secure,” Jason choked out. He could last much longer than regular humans with limited oxygen, however, he would very much like to continue being in control, at least for the moment. It was such an inconvenience to die.
“True, but ol’ Johnny has demon blood. Gotta cast an exception spell for it. I’ve been in here quite a few times,” it sneered, “I like your kids.”
Jason’s lips curled into a snarl of revulsion and he brought his elbow down onto the other’s arm, which loosened its grip enough for him to pry himself free. He whirled around to grab the ceremonial knife from its wall mount in a flurry of braids and cape. His heart raced with the potential of battle.
The Demon Constantine tutted and rolled an oily sleeve of its trenchcoat up to reveal a brightly glowing sigil. It grinned wide and showed its teeth - blackened around the edges with nicotine gunk.
“Bastard!” Jason exclaimed.
“Bonded our bodies,” it beamed, “Wouldn’t wanna hurt your husband now, would you?”
It pushed one of its grotesque fingernails into its skin and John, wherever he was, screamed in pain. The noise pulled itself out of the Demon’s throat like a bad megaphone.
Jason gritted his teeth, his jaw cracking under the sheer pressure.
“No, no, but that’s just it, isn’t it?” Jason began and he stood up, his confidence growing.
The Demon tilted its head in confusion and assumed a defensive stance, preparing to rip the man’s throat out.
“You are my husband. You are. Just the bad parts. His grief, his anger, his intrusive thoughts, his violence, everything he deemed unworthy of love, everything he wished to rid himself of.”
The Demon pounced and pushed Jason against the wall with so much strength it knocked the breath out of him. He could hear the build up of mucus rattle in the other’s chest as it breathed- filled with cancer, no doubt - the reality of what smoking can do if you can’t die and can’t heal.
“Faggot!” It snarled, as if it didn’t know what else to say.
“I see he gave you his internalised homophobia. I’ve no doubt transphobia is in there, too.”
The Demon’s fist hit Jason square in the jaw and he stared back at the figure’s form with nothing but love.
“But, it’s okay, Johnny. It’s okay,” he soothed, “I wasn’t lying, you know? When I said for better or for worse in those vows.”
“Shut up!” It screamed and it shoved him into the wall again which left a dent, “I’ll beat the living shit out of you!”
Jason’s vision was slightly blurry, but it might have been from tears, “You think you have to hide these things, Johnny, that no one will ever love you if they’re a part of you. But I already do. I love you, sweetheart, all of you.”
The Demon glared at him with all the rage of Hell as Jason marched forward and latched onto it. He embraced it in a hug.
“I’ve got you. It’s okay,” he said. He pressed a kiss to its neck as he usually did. If their bodies were bonded, he hoped that John could feel it.
The Demon thrashed and screamed, it yelled abuse, and it tore holes in Jason’s clothes and flesh with its nails and teeth until, finally, it stilled in his arms. It was still his John, to a degree.
“I’ve done so many horrible things, love,” it said, or John said, Jason wasn’t sure, “You wouldn’t love me if you knew.”
Jason shook his head, “Try me, you stubborn bastard.”
It smirked and then said sadly, “M’scared. I don’t want to feel like I did before I made him. It. Me."
“You’ve got enough good in your other self to balance it out.”
“S’not a bloody scale," it groaned.
Jason brushed his fingers through greasy, knotted hair, “Shh, you know what I mean. Remember our talk about accepting our faults?”
“M’scared,” it repeated.
Jason pulled it as close as he could, “I’ve got you.”
The Demon began to cry into Jason’s shoulder and he held it tighter. I ts form shuddered and twitched and all life left it as it became a pile of damp clay on the floor. Jason blinked at the empty space where it had been and grunted in annoyance at the clay.
“Damn. That was new carpet,” Jason muttered to himself.
He changed clothes as quickly as he could. Eddie, I can feel you huffing about, he thought.
Etrigan stirred, Though I would have preferred a fight, why must we journey into the night?
Jason let out an anxious breath and spoke, “Because John just absorbed the worst parts of himself that he had given demonic form. Most probably the memories, too.”
Hurry , Etrigan urged.