Tangible Schizophrenia


Demons III: Man in the Long Black Coat

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: PG-13. Gender-switching.
Pairing: John/Balthazar, some Dean/John.
Feedback: Good lines, typos, etc.
Disclaimer: Neither the SPN characters nor the Constantine characters belong to me.
Notes: AU begins right before the end of Home. Supernatural/Constantine crossover. Loose sequel to Snap, from which you only need to know the following: 1) John and Midnite resurrected Balthazar as a human and 2) John and Balthazar have acquired the ability to change into female forms of themselves.
Summary: Sam has a little accident. Dean gets a couple eyefuls.


The walk down to the car was uneventful, though Dean had that uneasy feeling that he was being watched from every dark little corner. He popped the trunk and nearly caught his chin on the lid because he was checking out movement across the street.

“That’s just a stray.” John finished lighting his cigarette and glanced at the inside of the trunk. He whistled: short, but still impressed. “Okay. Guess I don’t have to explain the ‘kill them first before they kill you’ principle.”

“You have to tell people that?” Dean incredulously asked.

Half-shrug. Then John turned around. He pulled his cigarette from his mouth at the same time so Dean had to flap a hand to keep from choking on the smoke. “Yeah, well, when demons look like people, some idiots think that means they are people.”

“I never understood what was the difference. You kill each other at the drop of a hat. Or less.” Balthazar was playing around with his coin again, but Dean was beginning to suspect it wasn’t just a nervous habit. For one thing, Balthazar was way too bad-tempered to have a problem with his nerves. “Have fun ogling their toys, Johnny. I’m taking the first floor.”

“Try not to get everything bloody again. It’s hell on the wood,” John called after him. Then John nodded at the trunk. “All right, rifles good, crosses are kind of a joke…hey, keep the shotgun. What do you load it with?”

Sam had been swapping shotgun for rifle, but when John spoke, he handed the other rifle to Dean instead. He was edgy about something and kept glancing up at the sky. Occasionally he’d suck in his breath hard, like he was going to give warning, but he never did. “Rock salt.”

John coughed. He took his cigarette from his lips again and coughed a little too hard the second time. Though by the time he straightened up, he was pretty composed. “Forget what I said about that. Got anything else?”

“That’s usually enough for ghosts. You know, we exorcised a demon a couple weeks ago, but it didn’t have a body. It was like this traveling spirit,” Dean said, poking around. He turned up another bottle of holy water, which he handed to Sam, and dug deeper. If he remembered right, there was a blessed sickle somewhere in the back that Dad had picked up from a Mexican priest. “And okay, fine, we haven’t expressed ourselves, but shouldn’t we have gotten a tingle if we’d passed by your kind of demon? There’s supposed to be a lot around, right?”

“It’s not like we spent half our lives climbing ceilings and spitting on priests,” Sam muttered.

The sigh John let out sounded like he would’ve preferred rolling his eyes, but was trying to restrain himself. He could almost be a guy Dean could relate to when he didn’t pull that ‘I’m so much older and wiser than you’ routine, but he didn’t seem to give too much of a shit about whether people liked him or not. “Like I said, till eight months ago you weren’t allowed to. Not many tried it because then exorcists like me could boot them back to hell and they’d get smacked around for it. And you guys don’t spend a lot of time in big cities, do you?”

“Please don’t tell me you’re going to start up with the hick jokes. I might have the accent, but you know what not much civilization really does to people? It makes them really, really creative.” There was the damned sickle. Only the handle poked out because the rest was beneath a pile of spare ammunition and the bullet-making kit…and it was pretty damn stuck. Dean dug his heel into the ground, braced himself against the trunk edge, and tugged harder.

“It’s not that, kid. It’s what everyone wants: your soul. They’ve got quotas to fill, and it’s a hell of a lot easier to pick up souls fast in downtown than it is out in farmland, where you’ve got what, five people every fifty miles?” John laughed, dark and sarcastic. He must have finished his cigarette, because Dean heard the click of a lighter. “The real demons stay close to the cities. Not many of the important ones go past the suburbs.”

The sickle finally came free and nearly set Dean on his ass on the ground in the process. He caught himself at the last minute and handed it to Sam. Except Sam was staring worriedly at the roof-tops and didn’t take it till Dean poked his arm. Dean swallowed a sigh, grabbed his rifle, and took out a few extra rounds of silver bullets. Probably was about time to start moving; Sam usually calmed down once he had something to do besides think too much. “So you’re an exorcist? That’s what you do for a living?” he said to John.

“Yeah.” Something of Dean’s skepticism must have shown, because John lifted an eyebrow and narrowed his eyes. “Really, Dean. What, do you guys do your stuff for free?”

“Well, it doesn’t seem all that fair to charge people for something they couldn’t help.” Sam stepped back from the car so Dean could shut the trunk, still staring up around them.

That laugh of John’s was really starting to get on Dean’s nerves. The other man walked back up onto the curb, digging inside of his jacket. He pulled out a little cylinder of metal, maybe brass, and glanced at the top before flipping it around. “People can’t help getting things like cancer, but you still get bills for that, don’t you? They want me to help them, then I’d better be alive and in good shape and have the right tools, and for that I need money. It’s not like my profession lets me hold down a day job.”

The idea still didn’t sit entirely right with Dean, but what he’d seen of John said that the man had been in this city for a long time, and that did require a different lifestyle from the way Dean and Sam had been living on the road. Anyway, he didn’t think John’s interest was entirely monetary. Not with the way he’d been checking out the trunk; he liked what he did on some level, and Dean had a feeling that John freely acknowledged that.

“All right, let’s go clean out my roof.” John ground out his cigarette butt with his heel, then walked towards the alley at the side of the building.

“Doesn’t he want anything?” Sam whispered.

Dean made a face. “If he did, I think he would’ve asked. And if he doesn’t think he needs one…well, then I don’t have to worry about him messing up my rifle.”

That got him another face from Sam, who really shouldn’t have considering how he got about things like his college friends, which Dean promptly ignored in favor of going after John. They ended up by an old fire escape that had weird little bundles of ribbons and hair and dried stuff tied to the railing every couple of feet. Dean accidentally grabbed one and instantly yanked his hand away, swearing: that shit had tingled.

“Oh, yeah. Don’t touch that,” John said. He’d climbed right up to the top without so much as hesitating to make sure nothing up there was going to take off his head. Either his demon-sight was incredible or he really didn’t give a shit about anything.

“Any other pointers?” After making sure his rifle was loaded, Dean swung from the ladder to the roof. He helped Sam over the edge before turning around.

It was a big roof. Most of it was flat as Kansas, but there were a couple stacks of crates and one end of it had a big shack that Dean guessed held the air-con system, given that it had large vents in it and occasionally belched steam. At least, he hoped it was the air-conditioning stuff. Someone had built a drying rack to one side of it and the…things being dried were…weird. Yeah, weird. Weird was a good word.

Sticking out of the other far corner was some kind of antenna, which looked normal enough. Still, Dean wasn’t feeling like taking any chances. He’d peeked into some of the crap John kept in his fridge—the ones not in the take-out boxes—and he and Sam had spent the next good five minutes discussing whether to ask John if he hired out props to horror-movie sets. Sam had said it might get Balthazar upset, and Balthazar badly wanted them gone so that would have been a bad idea. According to him, anyway. His logic didn’t quite make sense to Dean, since John obviously had ways of reconciling Balthazar to unpleasant truths.

Dean winced, then shook himself and went off across the roof. Not that he had anything against that sort of thing, but he didn’t really want to dwell on it. He concentrated on thinking about the great ass of that woman from the bar.

They spread out over the roof. In a manner of speaking. The manner mostly being that John wandered around and once in a while stopped to stare significantly at things without offering an explanation, and Dean and Sam gradually circled towards the air-conditioning shack so they weren’t targets on all four sides. Sam was getting twitchy again; once he started at a fluttering piece of litter and almost whacked off Dean’s head.

Something thudded and Dean ducked again, but it only took a second for him to realize that it’d come from inside the building. He stood back up and checked on John, but John was just grinning sourly at the ground. “Prissy little son of a bitch,” he muttered. “He’s having fun and he’s still going to whine about getting his nails chipped later.”

“What’s down there? Come to think of it, what are we doing up here?” Since Dean hadn’t seen or felt whatever the hell the others had, except for that one thing at the window. And for all he knew, that could’ve just been the wind blowing trash up against it. “What are we supposed to be looking for?”

“I saw this…these things went past the windows,” Sam said. He shouldered his rifle so he could make little wiggling motions with his fingers that were absolutely not descriptive in the least. He did seem to get this and scrunched up his face in frustration, which reminded Dean a lot of the time he was twelve and Sam was eight and the time with the swimming pool…never mind. Sam was talking again. “They were shadows, but they moved like they were flying.”

Dean resisted the urge to grind his teeth. He’d wanted to get out and start doing something about what was going on, but that didn’t exactly work if he didn’t know what was going on. “Like birds?”

“They weren’t birds. And no, I didn’t see them, but I just—know. Trust me on this one, okay?” Just then something startled Sam and he whipped around, jerking his rifle down so fast that at first Dean thought his brother was shooting somebody.

But no sudden bang, so that wasn’t it. “Yeah, sure. Hey, John—”

And then Dean stopped, because John wasn’t there anymore. He frowned and spun slowly around on his heel, scanning the roof. Concrete, concrete, building, man…man.

“Jesus Christ,” Sam called out. He’d been looking too, but when he spotted John, he jumped again. “You could warn us if you’re going to sneak around like that.”

John, who was probably having yet another smoke, stood too deep in the shack’s shadow for his expression to be shown. He still managed to make his opinion known with the derisiveness of his follow-me flip of the hand. Then his silhouette turned so his back was to them and he started to move off behind the air-conditioning shed.

“He’s worse than you,” Sam muttered, stalking after John.

Dean was about to do the same, but Sam’s little remark made him pause. Then a flicker of the lights to the right caught his eye, and he turned around to see…

John. John walking from behind a stack of boxes into a pool of light that was dim, but not so dim that Dean couldn’t clearly see the man’s face, cigarette and even a glimpse at a scar on his inner wrist when he flicked the ash off his cigarette. For a second, the implications froze Dean in place.

“What the…” John’s eyes darted past Dean, then widened. The other man lunged forward at the same time that Dean whipped around, screaming for his brother.

He didn’t see the other bastard, but he did see Sam’s rifle fall and Sam’s hand clamp onto the corner of the shed like behind it, someone was trying to drag him away. The fingers clenched and Dean actually saw one nail scrape to the quick on the concrete blocks, leaving behind a thin bloody line.


Everything happened at once and separately, like time had shattered and a giant hand had tossed the moment-shards into the air. Sam’s rifle went off when it hit the ground. Instinct threw Dean to the ground and threw him forward so hard that he did something to his ankle and it exploded on him. He willed the pain to throw him farther forward. A chip of concrete flew up to his left: it’d been knocked out by the bullet.

He got to the shack and grabbed onto its corner, using that to swing himself around. The shed wasn’t that big and even if doing that meant he’d swing wider, it’d still make him move more than fast enough to compensate.

He would’ve gotten there a second before Sam’s fingers suddenly ripped off the edge if a heavy weight hadn’t tackled him to the ground. Maybe Dean wasn’t all that up on the urban demon, but he knew this like nobody’s business; he was rolling even before they hit the ground and his swing with the rifle butt nearly caught John in the temple.

John ducked so it just ruffled his hair instead. He wasn’t too bad himself—he didn’t make the mistake of trying to shift his grip, which would’ve let Dean twist free, and instead used his hold on Dean’s shoulders to bang them into the ground. Promptly flattened himself out on Dean so silver flashed above them instead of through John’s head. It turned into the sickle and went skittering across the ground.

“Get off—” Dean started.

An elbow in his stomach knocked all the air out of him before he could continue. Dean hacked, felt pain rattle through his ribs, and braced himself. Then he shoved hard at John.

Who was already off and…and his skin was melting. But only for a second. Then he was…

It could have been a concussion. Except a second later something big and dark reared up into the air from the other side of the shed, and when Dean rolled and shot at it, he hit it without any problem. So no concussion. John had breasts. And an ass. Specifically, he had the breasts and the ass and generally the body of the woman that’d shoved past them in front of Midnite’s bar.

God. L. A. was just plain fucking weird.

Whatever the hell was up in the air—and had taken his brother, Dean smacked back into his brain—should’ve come down, but the bullet only made it dip a little. That still was enough time for John—Johanna? Whatever—to scramble on top of the shed, pull a little packet from the inside of his—her—his coat and fling it at the monster.

It soared through the air. By then John was holding that little metal cylinder in front of him. He clicked it like a pointer and a fifteen-foot flame shot out to blast the packet, whereupon the flame turned ice-blue and engulfed the top of the monster. The heat was so intense that Dean had to look away; he ended up rolling to the side before he looked up again. Where the hell was Sam? The thing in the air was huge, but it looked flat, like an all-black stingray. It didn’t have anywhere to put a full-grown man.

John was shouting in Latin now, and Dean vaguely identified parts of it as coming from the Catholic prayerbook. He wasn’t sure about the rest, but it seemed to be an invocation to banish evil. Anyway, he was busy getting up on one knee and getting ready to take another shot. He swung up his rifle, aimed, and—

--damned near shot Sam, who was suddenly spit out of the bottom of the flying ink splotch. “Sam!”

“Dean—fuck!” Sam had been trying to flip around when he hit the roof. He hadn’t fallen more than ten feet, but if he’d hit wrong, that still would have been far enough to break bones.

Dean dropped his rifle and ran forward, falling at the last moment so he skidded the final foot on his feet. He hit Sam palms first and immediately started searching the other man for injuries. “What happened? What was that? Are you bleeding? Inside, outside?”

“Is he possessed?” somebody called. It took a second to realize that had to be John because of the change in pitch.

“No, I’m not possessed. I’m really tired and sore and pissed off, but I am not--what the hell?” Sam had been working himself up to one damn impressive fit, but he suddenly broke off and fell back on his elbows, eyes huge. “You!”

John’s feet stopped beside Dean, and Dean looked up in time to get a short-range look at John switching genders. “Yeah, me,” John casually said, like they were discussing a new haircut. He dropped down and grabbed Sam by the chin; Dean tried to block him and John elbowed him aside, then backed off before Dean could punch him. “Okay, not possessed. Then what was the point of that?”

“Of what? What was that?” Sam snapped. He’d quieted down a little bit, but he still shoved Dean off of him like they were the ones fighting. “You just—”

A grimace passed over John’s face. “Changed into a woman. It comes in handy sometimes: the body’s more flexible and a couple spells are more powerful if they’re said by a woman.”

“Were you born like that?” Dean asked. He was starting to get a queasy feeling in his stomach.

Shaking his head, John rapidly walked in a circle around them with his eyes on the sky. He whipped out a cigarette and smoked it fast, mind obviously somewhere else. “No, I just drank the wrong bottle at Midnite’s a couple months ago. I was born and still am a man.”

“Oh.” Oh, great. Suddenly Dean felt…well, really stupid. He wanted to bang his head a few times against the concrete and oh, maybe shoot himself. Maybe John hadn’t noticed.

“Johnny?” Balthazar was calling from the edge of the roof.

John put out a hand and gestured that he’d be back in a second. “Sorry to dash your hopes, Dean. I know you were really into my chest,” he tossed over his shoulder.

Well, so much for that hope. Dean sat down on his ass and rubbed his hand against his head. He hated to admit it, but he was long past starting to think that they were really in over their head. They should’ve kept on looking for Dad instead of checking out the card Missouri had given them. “Jesus Christ.”

Rustling and groaning as Sam sat up behind him. “Dean?”

“I should’ve guessed.” Smacking his forehead didn’t make Dean feel much better, but at least it distracted him from how completely humiliating this was. “I should’ve guessed, damn it. I mean, we know about shapeshifters, and this is just a limited form of that.”


“And she was so hot. That should’ve been a clue.” After that should’ve come a crack from Sam about how Dean never took that clue, but nothing. Which was a little weird, but Sam was okay and Dean was still struggling with this whole…gender-flip. It was really unfair, and that was a completely irrational thought to have, but hell, it was. “God. I need to scrub out my brain, because it still remembers how hot John looks as a woman, and now I know he’s really a guy—she’s really a guy that’s him…Sam? This is so messed up.”


Balthazar and John were involved in a pretty heated conversation over by the roof, Dean idly noted. He wondered if…no, Balthazar had to know. John wasn’t exactly the kind of guy to keep something like that under wraps. And Dean not only needed to scrub out his brain, but also needed to mindwipe the damn thing too, because it’d immediately gone to wondering whether Balthazar and John just fucked as men, or if they did the man-woman thing as well. It had to be the adrenaline still in his blood that was making his crotch a little too tight.


“What? Sam, I’m having a slight issue here and—” Dean turned around with his own fit-of-rage speech on the tip of his tongue, but it died right there. He opened and closed his mouth a couple times and all that came out was a strangled croak.

Sam was very pale. His eyes stayed fixed on Dean, but they kept twitching to the sides like he wanted to look but couldn’t quite work up the nerve. He made a limp gesture with his hand. “They just…came out.”

Dean looked at the wings coming out of his brother’s shoulders. They had had their share of strange happenings, but this evening definitely took the cake. His mouth opened again without him telling it to. “Okay, you win.”

This didn’t make Sam all that happy. At least he got some color into his cheeks. “Dean!”

“John?” Dean called, not looking away from Sam. “You might want to come back here for a second.”

Well, they weren’t leaving town any time soon.

* * *

They were back in the apartment. Between the roof and it, Sam had managed to figure out that he could make the wings disappear, which was a good thing because John’s door definitely wouldn’t have been big enough.

Balthazar had claimed the couch, and now spoke from a position lying belly-up on its top edge, hand over his face as if he just couldn’t bear to gaze upon the dirty world. “You’re sure you didn’t die.”

“Yes,” Sam said. He was rapidly getting over his shock and moving on to serious enraged blow-up.

John was perched on the couch arm. For the first time since they’d met him, he had dropped the cock-of-the-walk act. Now he was pressing at the side of his face with one hand and looking very unenthusiastic about the recent developments. “Really sure? Because if it was a snapped neck, that’s over like that--” snapped fingers “—and you might’ve just thought it was a cramp.”

“I didn’t die. That thing dragged me around the corner and then…ate me, but I was still alive, okay? Though I really appreciate the concern here.” Sarcasm dripped off Sam’s words in spades. The effect was pretty good, though it was ruined a second later when something fwhooshed behind him and Dean, then turned solid enough to knock Dean off the table. “Shit! Sorry! They just—”

“—popped out,” Dean muttered, sprawled out on his ass. He rolled over, bit down a wince at all the bruises making themselves known, and slowly climbed back onto his feet. By then Sam had pulled the wings back in, but Dean figured it’d be safer to keep standing. “Yeah, what is the deal? Why is it important whether or not he died? I mean, isn’t the answer to that obvious?”

Balthazar sighed and swung himself into a sitting position. “It’s important because as far as John or I know, that is the only way a person can turn into an angel.”

“Angel?” Sam and Dean repeated in disbelief. Sam made an elaborate cough. “Uh, no offense to them, but I don’t suddenly feel all saintly and full of God’s light.”

“They usually aren’t.” John managed a bitter half-smile, then went back to thinking. “You saw it go off, right? Did you recognize the thing that tried to take Sam?”

The expression on Balthazar’s face could best be described as ‘hassled.’ Beneath all that hauteur, he actually seemed to be pretty worried. “No. But if they’re high-ranking enough to be capable of importing a pack of scavengers into the first floor…damn it, John. You should have told Midnite to shove his request up the smallest bodily orifice he has.”

“I don’t think he knew this was going to happen. No, seriously. I’m in the middle of that job for him—I die or am otherwise indisposed for too long, and he’s got an Archduke of Hell setting his front door on fire,” John said. He glanced at Sam again, then back at Balthazar. Balthazar wasn’t looking at him, which was probably the only reason John didn’t get his hand bitten off when he reached out and pulled at Balthazar’s tie. “Anyway, I’m not so sure that Sam here’s an angel per se.”

At first Balthazar batted and shoved at John, but not as hard as he could have. In short order he ended up hip-to-hip with the other man, reluctantly letting John mess around with his hair. “Prophecy.”

“What?” It’d been so quiet that Dean wasn’t sure he’d heard right.

“Prophecy,” Balthazar repeated more loudly. Now he was downright preening, arching so his head slid up and down against John’s shoulder as John did something to the back of his neck. “When nothing else checks out, assume some crazed fanatic predicted this a few centuries ago and look it up.”

Sam made a face. “Isn’t that…kind of cheesy?”

“Hey, I never said this job was cool. Or logical.” John was scratching behind Balthazar’s ears now, as if the other man were a gigantic cat. He was smiling with his lips tight together, but not because he was upset. More like he was trying not to snicker. “That’d fit better with Midnite’s usual M. O.”

“But what about—about the wings? And that thing out there? It’s not dead. What if it comes back?” Sam asked. He leaned forward as he spoke like a dog straining at his collar. The glitter in his eyes worried Dean, who stepped back towards him just in case. “What am I supposed to do?”

Balthazar snarled in irritation and abruptly twisted free of John, then whirled around to stalk towards the bedroom. “Just go to sleep. It couldn’t get to you till you went outside. In the morning we’ll go visit Midnite and you can watch me tweak him into little painful pieces.”

Sam and Dean looked back at John, but he just shrugged. “What I was going to say. You haven’t changed any more, so you probably aren’t going to.”

“So why didn’t we stay inside in the first place?” That was damn near a shout, and after it, Sam hopped off the table like he was going to come at John.

Though that didn’t seem to unnerve John any; he just sat back and narrowed his eyes. “Look, Sam. I’m doing the best I can, and I’m not even charging you, so shut up and be grateful. I thought it was just going to be a regular demon, and in that case you want to chase them off because if you don’t? They stick around and make your neighbors commit murders and jump off roof-tops. I happen to like this neighborhood free of criminal investigations.”

“Be grateful—” Sam growled.

Right about then, Dean figured he’d better step in. Even if John and Balthazar were holding back, it was obvious by now that frontal attacks weren’t the way to make them cooperate.

He grabbed Sam’s arm and pulled his brother back. Kept pulling him back till Sam stopped actively resisting and just threw his weight forward enough to balance out Dean’s force. “Come on, Sam. He’s got a point—we should be yelling at that guy Midnite. And we should get some sleep first. Come on.”

“Sweet dreams,” John muttered, getting off the couch and heading for the bedroom.

Sam stiffened up again, but Dean dug in his heels and held Sam back. There wasn’t any way John could know about those, and they might as well let John go. Then he and Balthazar could go…occupy themselves, and if they were doing that, they weren’t pissing off anyone.

“I’m okay.” When a sharp shake didn’t dislodge Dean from his arm, Sam sighed and slowly relaxed. “I’m okay. You can let go now.”

“You sure?” Dean leaned over and checked Sam’s face. When he was sure, he leaned out of the way and bent over the couch to feel the cushions. “Pretty nice.”

The sound that came from behind him was a cross between a cough and a laugh. “Uh, Dean? They’ve probably…on there…”

“Oh. Oh, shit.” Dean jerked his hand back so fast he almost fell on his ass again. He stared down at the innocuous cushions. Then he shook his head hard because he really hadn’t needed that mental image. Hell, it hadn’t even been anatomically…well, okay, it could be. If they were into that.

He really was having a hard time getting the fact that John was a man into his head. Then again, it was slightly less worrying than thinking about the fact that Sam had wings and something was trying to get at him. If Sam was an angel, did that mean he had to get into all that heaven versus hell fighting that John had mentioned? Because all right, Dean had no problem with going out after monsters, but what John had described was a holy war. Those were huge enough to make Dean feel…small. Which wasn’t a feeling he liked.

“It’ll probably be okay if we fold it out,” Sam quietly said. He sounded a little shaky. “I don’t think they’d go through the trouble. It should be okay. Right, Dean?”

Sam looked up and everything was not okay, but Dean smiled the best he could. “Yeah. Yeah, it will.”


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