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Through the Barbed Wire

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John had to take a sharp inhale of his cigarette - English tobacco, of course - to stop himself from physically gagging at the foul homophobic, anti-Semitic bullshit that spilled from his fellow soldier’s mouth. It left a stench in the air worse than vomit.

Have you been reporting the homosexuals to your superiors?” asked Otto. Shit name, even shittier attitude.

I have. Unlike you, I don’t routinely run into them,” John spit back. He smirked to himself at the way Otto curled his hands into fists at his sides and John tapped the cigarette intertwined in his fingers on the side of the ash tray. He watched the excess ash fall into the glass dish simply because he’d rather be anywhere but here. The swastika on his arm burned its way into his mind and self-hatred latched onto his stomach at the thought of some of the things he had done to earn his place amongst these monsters.

Otto murmured something uniquely German under his breath, which John was sure was directed at him, that even years of training for undercover operations hadn’t gifted him with the English translation for.

John rubbed his calloused and dry thumb against his temple, trying to ease the huge tension headache that was building in the front of his skull. He let his eyelids drift shut, and he most likely would have fallen asleep that way - slumped over in an armchair with a lit cigarette threatening to burn his fingers or set something alight - were it not for the gunfire and screams that were snuffed out as quickly as they sounded.

He opened his eyes barely in time to take a kind of pleasure in seeing the gigantic, yellow spiny Demon rip Otto’s spine out. The room filled with the recognisable smell of sulphur and burnt flesh. John couldn’t even reach for the vial of holy water he kept attached to his belt before the creature had its fingers wrapped tightly around his neck. It’s claws unsheathed themselves and dug tiny holes into John’s flesh.

“Bloody-fuckin’-hell,” he winced, gritting the words out through clenched teeth.

The Demon released his grip and stumbled back, as if the shock of hearing a British accent had paralysed him. Any other time John would have laughed. He gasped in a breath and then actually gasped as the monstrous figure before him distorted, turning in on itself like a giant sinkhole until finally it took on a human form. A handsome human form.

John pressed a hand to the small wounds on his neck which were beginning to coagulate, “John Constantine. English spy. And may I jus’ say, mate, I’m a huge fan of yer work.”

The stranger regarded him with a look of curiosity and blinked, as if he were trying to gather his thoughts, “You’re not a Nazi?”

“Oh, fuck no,” John said, ripping his armband off, “M’just gatherin’ intel. Who’s your yellow friend, mate?”

John picked up his fallen cigarette and took a drag. He pushed the smoke out through his nose and eyed the other; his gaze lingered in places that a professional spy’s shouldn’t.

“Etrigan. We’re bound together. Merlin, he— how did I get here?”

John took another drag and smirked to himself, “Well, I’d say your friend sniffed out some people needin’ a’slaughterin’.”

Jason folded his arms, “He is not my friend, I’d say it was merely chance he happened upon a Nazi stronghold in his quest for chaos.”

John shrugged and pulled his coat around himself, “Be grateful he killed the right people this time... I think you owe me a drink.”

Jason scoffed, “I most certainly do not.”

“Yes you do.”

“And why, pray tell?”

John gestured around them and then smacked Jason’s arm playfully, “You blew my cover, fuckin’ wanker. I need a drink and by the looks’ a’you, you need one, too.”

Jason groaned and tidied himself up, fixing his hair in the mirror, “What do you have in mind?”

“A small underground club. A place those bastards haven’t got their hands on yet.”

The man sighed and followed the eager John out into the streets. He didn’t need to worry about being caught with another man, he didn’t need to worry about the consequences. He was immortal and he had told himself he didn’t care what happened to humanity. He was constantly proving himself wrong.

“Alright, but I can’t promise I’m good company.”

The night was cold and the men stuck to the shadows despite this. The bar’s entry was disguised as an old, abandoned house and the people inside, while party-goers, were starting to look hunted. In a way, they were. Despite this, they danced and drank; men with men, women with women, and those who were both or neither.

“You don’t seem alarmed. Hang around with these type of people a lot, huh?” John asked as he leaned against the small bar.

Jason stuffed his hands into his pockets, “I’ve simply seen it all.”

“Mm, I doubt that,” John said as he collected their drinks in his hands.

Jason frowned at him.

“You only met me tonight, luv,” he added as he brushed past him to a table.

Jason followed yet again and growled in annoyance - also yet again. He had the feeling this Constantine fellow would force those sounds out of him quite regularly. Hopefully, other sounds, too , he thought, and then quickly pushed that one away and set it alight.

Jason sat down beside John and took long, slow sips of his drink. The edge his demonic friend gave him meant he could drink John under the table, however, he really didn’t want to start a competition and Etrigan might take advantage of his intoxicated state.

“You’re English, then?” John ventured as he lit up another cigarette.

Jason got the impression he was going to be doing that a lot.

“Yes,” Jason replied. He wasn't really, it was just where he'd spent most of his time and the accent seemed to suit him. He took another sip of his drink to emphasise the end of his answer.

“Nah, you’re proper posh English. Or at least that’s what you want others to think.”

Jason gave the other man a glare that told him to back off - John, as usual, did not care for it.

“Where are you from?” John leaned close to the other and batted his eyelashes comically, “Really?”

Jason sighed and scooted forward a little closer, “Camelot.”

John pulled back, “The actual place?”

“Yes,” Jason said matter-of-factly, “I was a knight.”

John smirked and his eyes began to sparkle with glee, “I’ve been lookin’ for my knight in shining armour, you know?”

Jason watched him with curiosity, a fascinated smile pulled at the corner of his lips.

“You certainly are unique. You have a background in magic, I presume, since you seem unaffected by Etrigan.”

John finished his drink before giving his answer, which was in a way, an answer in itself, “Since I was a kid. Lookin’ for me Ma.”

Jason pursed his lips in thought and found comfort in the smooth liquid at the bottom of his glass, “My condolences, John.”

John shrugged, “‘Course as I got older I realised its best not to raise the spirits of people who deserve to rest in peace. Ain’t good for ‘em.”

Jason nodded, “I imagine it isn’t.”

They shared a moment of silence as John admired the other and longed to reach out and play with his hair.

“Why are you lookin’ so sad, gorgeous?” John asked as he moved to rest his arm behind the other.

Jason looked up into his eyes, “I haven’t stopped to have a drink with a nice young man in a long time. It’s nice… to be able to enjoy how slow time moves.”

“‘M glad you think I’m worth it, luv.”

Jason smiled, which showed his teeth - they were beginning to become sharp from so many years bound to Etrigan. John leaned in for a kiss and jumped in surprise when his lips met Jason’s fingers. His eyelids sprung open.

“You don’t even know my name. Do you always kiss boys before knowing their names?”

John pressed a kiss to the man’s fingers instead, “Boys, girls, demonic entities... are you gonna tell me your name, then?"

“Jason Blood,” he said.

“Eh? Because of the hair?” John teased, pointing to the red hair on Jason’s head.

Jason rolled his eyes and let out a soft, breathy chuckle, "Sure.”  He finished his drink and tugged his coat tighter around his shoulders, “I should be going.”

“Do you have anywhere t’go?”

Jason scoffed, paused, and for some reason, decided to be truthful, “No.”

“Come back to my place,” he drawled, and then added before Jason could object to his offer, “No pressure t’do anythin’.”

Unusually, Etrigan didn’t stir in objection. It was possible he was simply too busy thinking of the many ways he could kill John, but Jason was full of bad decisions tonight, it seemed.

“Okay,” he agreed, “Considering I did blow your cover.”

John shrugged, “I was never too good at bein’ a Nazi, even with all the trainin’. Pretty sure they were gettin’ suspicious when I wasn’t bringing in queers for ‘em.”

“I should think so,” Jason said, patting John’s hand in pretend sympathy.

John did the buttons of his coat up and took Jason by the hand. They stood and moved through the crowds, “One day I’ll get you on that dance floor, Mister Blood.”

Jason shook his head, “I doubt it.”

Their hands separated before they left the club - intimacy like that was far too dangerous for anywhere except behind closed doors. And even then, it was risky. Jason felt a twinge of actual concern for John's safety, which came to him as a suprise, but he hid it extremely well from John, Etrigan, and himself.