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Waiting Up

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John hadn’t come home.

This was nothing new; Chas had spent many a sleepless night worrying about what demon might have taken John down this time, or what tree the truck might have found itself wrapped around after a good night’s drunk at John’s favorite watering hole. More often than not, however, it was just John being John, picking up some pretty bit of flesh and following them home for a tumble because really…there was no way John could bring anyone back here. There would either be too many questions of else his expected conquest would run screaming for the hills.

Chas couldn’t blame him for not coming home, but sometimes he wished the man would call.

Zed, however, had less experience with the wiles and ways of John Constantine, and after the day she’d had, haunted by a series of drawings that frankly made Chas’ skin crawl, she had been unwilling, unable, to bring herself to leave the millhouse until she knew John was alright. So Chas had offered her the obligatory distraction, finding movie after movie on the telly, movies that had nothing to do with monsters and mayhem. They had talked of anything other than John, they had laughed, and they had bonded over popcorn, pizza, and more than a few beers, the remains of which lay scattered across the table before them as Chas cracked his eyes open to the distant sound of an engine and a morning talk show host droning on in a too chipper voice about the upcoming day’s weather.

He didn’t remember falling asleep. His last memory had been Zed sprawled across the sofa dozing with her feet upon his lap as he rubbed them. She had wanted to remain awake until John came home, though try as she did, exhaustion had eventually won the battle. Now however, as keys fumbled in the lock of the door above, he found Zed curled up against his side, clutching the hand of his arm that was wrapped around her shoulder and tucked securely beneath her arm, a smile on her face as if she was listening to the beat of his heart beneath her ear and finding comfort in the sound. She looked like an innocent angel, a lovely lost creature who did not belong in this world, and he wondered how he could possibly protect her from it.

“You here, Chas?” John’s voice echoed loudly as his footsteps began to clatter down the stairs.

Chas frowned, looking at Zed, afraid she would wake.

Zed peeped up at him through one cracked open eye, pressed her finger to her smiling lips as if to bid his silence, and then she closed her eyes again and snuggled deeper against his side.

Chas smiled too and feigned sleep as John reached the bottom of the stairs. From the way the man continued to talk of his night’s misadventure, Chas doubted very much John even noticed the night’s clutter…or that they were both there waiting for him curled in each other's arms.