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Not A Virtue

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"I thought angels were punctual." John Constantine grumbled as he stood in the dark cemetery. Although one of the oldest and most architecturally beautiful cemeteries in the world, Calvary really should be viewed during the day, not the dead of night.

In the old days he would have smoked 15 cigarettes by this point, but now a days there were no Lucky Strikes for him. Instead he'd chewed half a pack of Chicklets. Probably got held up singing God's praises or something.

"Come on, Chaz. Time's wasting here." John walked another quarter circle around the tombstone that bore the name of his one-time apprentice. Gabriel had killed him, smashed Chaz like a rag doll, while Constantine was trying to prevent Mammon from crossing planes of existence. Lucky Chaz had been born again into Heaven's bosom and made a half-breed.

Lucky, lucky Chaz Kramer.

"Patience is a virtue, Constantine. Remember?" Chaz crouched slowly on top of his tombstone, as John turned back to look. The giant wings folded back with soft whispers.

"It's about goddamn time. I mean, you're the one who made the appointment and then you're late." Constantine jammed his hands into the pockets of his black trench coat.

"Things came up." Chaz folded his arms as he took a seat on top of the stone. "I knew you'd get the message."

"But of course. It's hard not to notice when the two dimensional ink drawing of St. Elizabeth of Schonau starts talking to you like it's an every day occurrence." John popped another Chicklet into his mouth and chewed hard.

"You've noticed what's been going on." Chaz stated.

"What's going on? You mean how Los Angeles has become the revival capital of the planet? Churches are filled to capacity twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week? How movie production ceased, then studios started churning out pictures based on everything religious, including short films based on Jewish mythology? Movie stars, rock musicians, self-proclaimed Satanists, all finding Jesus and repenting, now shilling Christ on TV." John raked a hand through his hair. "Christ, even the porn industry up and folded. Jenna Jamieson became a born-again virgin!"

The headlines screamed the changes: fifteen hundred souls re-born at a church service in Beverly Hills, a revival at the Staples Center attended by twenty-five thousand people. Disneyland opening its gates for prayer meetings and baptism services. Marilyn Manson, himself the once self-described Anti-Christ, had repented and taken a vow of celibacy, effectively ending his musical career. It all seemed a little nuts and over the top, but this was the City of Angels.

Chaz waited silently for his former boss to stop. "You've seen him."

"Who?" Chaz gave Constantine a look.

John really wanted a cigarette but his vow held. "You mean Andrew. Yeah, he's hard to miss on TV. I think his company owns every major network affiliates in LA now. You can't watch TV, read a newspaper, or listen to the radio without hearing about him. What the fuck about him?"

"He's a Cherubim. Higher then the Archangels..."

"I saw the double wings Chaz. I know."

"And the highest of God's attendants below the Seraphim."

"Yeah, yeah, God's personal cheerleaders. It shows. The guy never shuts up about how awesome God is. I do have a subscription to the Times."

"He's misleading all humanity." Chaz said nonchalantly.

"...what?" Constantine nearly choked on his gum. "Wait a minute."

Chaz nodded. "At first it wasn't tipping the balance of influence. But it grows, his influence. His ministry is becoming more powerful by the second, beginning to rival the influence of the Church herself."

"Absolute power corrupts." John nodded.

"There are shady dealings within the ministry, seeds planted. No one knows why God let Andrew leave, granted him this course of action. The power is going to Andrew's head. He's grown an ego."

"I thought all angels had egos. Being all holy and close to God." John's deadpan had not lost its perfection.

"A sinful ego. He's still connected to God, at this moment. The line is but a thread, no more. The attention, the praise, the worshiping is being turned towards Andrew, as though he were the Holy Father, the shepherd of mankind."

"You want me to take him out."

"You couldn't, not in the conventional ways. He's not tipped the balance yet." Chaz slid off the tombstone and padded around his human grave. Both man and angel saw the ghosts that walked the cemetery; the ghosts saw them. Constantine tightened his shields up. None of those ghosts were his problem.

"Then what has to happen?"

"He has to commit a sin."

"Oh yeah, that'll be easy. 'Mr. Cherubim, please, take the name of God in vain!'" John scoffed. Why were these problems never as simple as he wished? "Any hints on how I'm supposed to go about this?"

"You're already on the right track." Chaz smiled.

"One of the commandments. Break one of them. The holiest of God's laws."

Chaz's wings spread before John could blink. "Time is of the essence." A mighty flap and the half-breed vanished into the dark sky. John looked up at the faint stars, barely visible above the bright lights of the city and the haze of pollution.

"I love time constraints. Working under pressure always makes me feel better." John turned and headed towards the cemetery gates.

He hailed a cab on Whittier Boulevard. As he slid in, he let his mental shield slip a bit to see what was driving the cab. Refreshingly, it was human and not demonic. Would wonders never cease?