Until It Gets Us Both Killed
Roleplaying Log: Until It Gets Us Both Killed
IC Details

John gets Barbara out of the chaotic remains of Councilman Jennings's Ball, and the two have a more serious talk about choices, and other matters of the heart.

Other Characters Referenced: Zatanna Zatara, Frank Castle, Dinah Lance
IC Date: December 23, 2018
IC Location: The Belfry, Gotham
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 28 Dec 2018 21:30
Rating & Warnings: R (for language)
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: None
Associated Plots

The Belfry's alarm goes off the moment John and Barbara are inside. It is hard to say what triggers it, beyond perhaps that ATHLENE has immediately taken notice to the fact that Barbara Gordon is in a serious state. If left too long, it will alert the rest of the Bat Family or the Birds, or anyone else in Barbara's contingencies — which means John is about to get a text message from ALTHENE reporting that Batgirl is in critical condition. To stop this cascade of alert and alarm, Barbara steps forward with a limp and touches the edge of her desk.

"ALTHENE," she says, voice hoarse and bloodspattered. "Stop protocols. John is here." That seems to be enough; someone who Barbara has denoted as safe is here with her. The AI gives a sound of gentle acknowledgement, and then silences. Barbara stands there for a moment, hands pressed against the desk with her head bowed. She had started so lovely tonight, and now she's certain it is hard to find the beauty behind the scarring of her dress and new bruises and marks on her skin.

She turns slowly toward John, blue eyes lifting to meet his, to read him… to make sense of him…

"Jesus, Blue." John muses, tiredly, quietly, following her through the door into the belfry and then to the desk's edge, slipping an arm next to, rather than around her, for support. She can cling to him if she needs to, much as the warlock's head is -ringing-. "Is that computer the only other friend you've got who knows when you're full of shit?" The little display back at the museum, worrying for Dinah over herself, certainly didn't fool John.

He sighs deeply, and lifts a hand to stroke across blood-matted tresses of red-stained red. Her beauty's not at the forefront of his mind right now— but it'll always take more than a nasty set of injuries to dull. "So I'm on your emergency contacts, huh?" The first text, no less? He draws another sigh, this one at once more and less aggravated than the last, and leans to press a kiss to her forehead.

"How badly are you actually hurt? Why the hell didn't you go with them to the healer." It's right in the title. It's what she's good at. Even Zee passed the buck. Constantine knows the answer though, the minute the words are out of his mouth. He kisses her brow a second time, even gentler. "You just wanted me to get you out of there." He observes softly. The fire behind -what- the hell she was thinking is pushed aside for the moment in favor of what she needs /now/ that the damage is done.

Full of shit indeed. Even as John calls her out, she breathes out a hard breath that includes some blood on her lips. She wipes it away with the gentle swipe of her hand, only looking up at him after a heartbeat. "She takes a scan the moment I come inside. If I'm injured — " Her throat tightens, choking back the words as she works those raw, damaged vocal cords. She gestures, finishing with a croak. " — she lets someone know." Lets John know, and others on her ally list. People who would get her S.O.S. and know that something is wrong.

The kiss to her forehead softens her a bit, and he can just feel her exhaustion settle in. She's raw, threadbare, and hurt. She presses in closer to him, though she is uneasy and wishes she could just keep leaning into the desk. Finally though, she clings to him instead. She nods mutely at his assessment, no longer trusting her throat to tell him what she needs to. When she finally looks up to him, she just shakes her head.

"Would you like me to run an analysis, Magician?" Those words are the soft, gentle alto that speaks from Barbara's computer console. ALTHENE is disembodied, but there's still a warm sense of care to her voice. Something that Barbara would have paid attention to — to make ALTHENE steady, confident, and almost maternal in her regard to those she addresses.

"Just — don't try to talk right now, alright luv?" Damn her. John had a good righteous mad worked up, flailing like the ducked date he was, agitated that he almost got killed, that she almost got killed, that Zatanna was there just to spite him and — ugh!

All if it's back burnered for the moment as the unnerved and irritated magician shifts gears. Mostly. He keeps her as upright as possible, leaned straight into him. "Fuck yes I want a scan, luv — computer. Lady. Whatever. I need to know how badly she's hurt, and whether she should even be fucking moved around under someone else's power."

That Babs shouldn't be standing, John knows already. "While you're at it, go ahead and read aloud everything she told you not to read to people." Beat. "Do you listen to all the shit we do in here?" Is he ashamed, or intrigued? Either way, he's the one leaning some weight into the desk, now, so that he can take more off the redhead's bare feet.

"ALTHENE, if you please." The AI's voice continues in that soft, even tone before there's a slight change to the light above them. Then one of the computer screens brightens, and begins to show John the damage done to Babs. It isn't all that bad, to be fair. She has seen worse. There's a couple fractured ribs, the damage to her throat, a twisted tendon in her knee, but the worse damage is to her liver where it looks like she took some serious impact. Being thrown into a hard, professional grade prep table will do that.

"I'm afraid that I am still bound by Oracle's protocols. But, to answer your question, I am constantly monitoring the Belfry, but I do not place any feeds into long-term storage unless flagged to do so." ALTHENE is polite, sincere, and if there's a hint of amusement in her voice, it might be confused for just some characteristics in her programming — ways to make her sound human. Though, she is the result of Barbara and Stark's work, so let's not sell the AI short.

Barbara just looks up at John at his concern, head lolling a bit. "I would like to lay down now," she croaks, defying his polite shut up from moments before. She tries to step out of his embrace, but just sags a bit when out of his immediate support.

"Oracle's protocols are a bunch of bollocks." John retorts, with some authority. Of course, the AI is also showing him that Babs isn't about to start hemorrhaging out her life, or bearing injuries that make even moving around all the more threatening. The internal damage is a concern, but one they can see to. "Thanks." He offers the computer. John sags just a bit into the desk, but the redhead's making her assertion, and immediately trying to head in the other direction.

The warlock catches her as she stumbles, and draws one arm up and around his shoulders properly, squinting to pick out an accurate course past the subtle distortions in his own vision as he dutifully, stubbornly walks her to the comfy cot stashed near the back. The magician lays her down carefully, brushes her hair back from her face, and leans down to press a gentle kiss to her cheek. Then it' a quest for all the blankets and pillows in this place, some of which are tucked around Barbara,some of which are piled next to the cot, for easy access— and for the Hellblazer to sink back into, tiredly, settling right next to the half-bed and resuming the slow pet of her hair.

"I know how you want to fix this — " John muses, she might even still be listening. He's definitely on board. " — but probably a moment's rest first, yeah?" For her, or for him? It's equally likely John is just checking in; this is no more a familiar situation for him than the party as it was intended, really. Hurting her -more- seems like a bad idea, just now.

The comfort, and connection John provides Barbara is enough for now. He collects her, drawing her in closer to him, and she leans heavily into his side. Her body aches when he secures her, but she makes no defiant sound against being lead to the bed beyond using her own feet and making soft murmurs. She gently lays out across the count, sprawling with a deep exhale that keeps her eyes closed.

The stroke of his fingers and hands along her hair draws her eyes open finally, a confirmation that she hasn't actually drifted into unconsciousness. His mused words are met with a low, almost half-smile. Then she shakes her head. "Okay," she croaks again, this time without putting up a fuss or trying to deny his assumptions.

She reaches for one of his hands, fingers touching his gently, fondly. She looks up to meet John's eyes after a moment longer, and her lips part to speak. "I — " Then she licks her lips, spreading a bit of blood across the soft tiers. "John — " But the words just can't manage to come out, not the way she wants them to.

Her eyes open, her words form, and John's already regretting saying anything about it at all. Not for the content of either act, just for the simple fact that she's hurting, she's drained, she doesn't need to be pushing. He slips onto the cot then, near the top, drawing Barbara's head into his lap in replacement for her pillow, and drawing blankets once more properly about them both.

Her hand is given a soft squeeze, and left to rest in his own. "Shhh." He encourages. "Shut the fuck up long enough to close your eyes." It's impossible to keep the warmth out of the insistence, "Anything you've gotta say will keep." Which might not be strictly true — but it's close enough.

"I'm not going anywhere." In fact, he's already relaxing into his softer seat, gently toying with locks of her mussed hair with relaxing reflexivity. It's as much to center him as to ease Babs, truth be told. John watches her through half-lidded eyes, both their wounds going momentarily untended, but sharing something unexpected through them, nonetheless.

Her lips curve with a small smile at his encouragement. Her eyes close at his insistence, but it's a slow and weighted sink back into the darkness of the room around her. She reaches for his hand with her own, and when her fingers twist around his, he'd find small nicks on the inside of her knuckles, along the webbing between her fingers. She brushes her fingers with his in a need for connection.

It pains her for a moment before she swallows down another hard lump in her throat. Her fingers brush back along his knuckles in a soft, hypnotizing touch. Her touch slows, her breath slows, and then she's sleeping quietly with her head pressed in his lap, still in her ragged gold gown, thigh holster of recollected batarangs, and bare, bloodstained feet.

She feels her pain relax, let up, and it just helps with the ease into that dreamlessness. Her brain spares her that much, more worried to let her relax into her aches and wounds and comforted by the safety that John gives her.

It's hard as fuck to sleep with freshly broken ribs. Ever tried it? Impossible to get comfortable, constant stabbing pain with breath, plus all the other nerves vying for her attention just now. She slips away relaxedly— exhaustion helps. The tender connection helps. More than she knows: the concussed warlock quietly passes his rest to her, urging sleep and recuperation wordlessly, magically, -unfairly-.

It means that when he falls asleep next to her, or works only perhaps half the magic /it's/ supposed to — not that Constantine is complaining. No, he's up periodically anyway, just to watch her, to make sure Babs is still breathing easily, his own attention entirely on seeing to her — even as he quietly kicks himself for it, just a little bit.

He's glad for — almost required to — rest there with her, though, drained and stinging from his own bad night. Like many other things before them, it can wait. There's substantial relief despite the dark circles and dried blood when she does open her eyes anew, hopefully after some actual time has passed.

Quiet, heavy sleep is what Barbara earns. She sleeps without stirring against John's lap, and he's reassured with each breath that she's breathing and still alive. When she finally opens her eyes to the world once more, she immediately seeks his gaze. Her eyes meet his easily, and she's smiling a bit wearily. Her lips move, but no voice comes with them. It's a voiceless, 'Hi.'

She is unaware of the unsettling around John because of choices she made at the ball, not yet aware she has consequences to face. She touches his leg beneath her head, and then his hand wherever she will find it. She feels his strong, narrow thigh under her head, the way his lap has become a place of quiet comfort.

Swathed in blankets, the weight is more comfortable than she wants to admit. After a bit more quiet settles around them does she try her voice. It's rough, rasped, but no longer croaking harshly. It just sounds tired and overworked. "John… Are you alright?"

The idea that he's an appetizer, deep friend and unhealthy, gorged upon before being forgotten during the meal proper? It seems a lot more distant, a lot sillier now, all on its own. Maybe it has to do with the injuries they took, the reminder of the real threat of loss.

Maybe it's the fact that he was the one Babs trusted to take her home, to tend to injuries she was uninclined to admit to anyone else. Or at least, anyone present. All the perfectly destructive paranoia over suddenly abandoning him with the appearance of his ex for her gun-nut crush, all the bitingly worded retorts… it's lost a few levels of volume.

"I got clocked in the head and dragged into a pile for mass sacrifice." John observes, a bit more gently than accusatory. "… and I'm still pretty sure I got out of it better than you, Blue. What the fuck happened out there?" He asks quietly, just the slightest tremor creeping into the addendum. "I thought we had each other's back." That was like, the sum total of the plan, wasn't it?

She can't quite muster sitting up, perhaps because every part of her body is clearly, plainly saying that sitting up right now is how she passes back out. She wants to though, wants to look at him fully beyond this angle with her head in his lap, and her eyes turned up to him. She hears the emotion in his voice — buried, perhaps, but still there. That slight tremor tells her all she needs to know about the mistake she made, the ill-timed step.

"We do." The words feel inadequate, not strong enough. Then she is reaching for his knee, and she grips at him gently. "We always do." Her breath escapes in a soft exhale, and she closes her eyes as she rests in his lap. "I… don't… Frank." She bites softly at her lower lip before she looks up at him. Excuses be damned, all she can really truthfully muster is a soft, "I'm sorry, John. I didn't… think. I just saw Frank go back, and needed to check-in." Then her words soften. "He's family."

Then her hand tightens on his knee, grounding him in that tight grip that is surprising for such a wounded bird. "But you're my family too, John. I shouldn't have left your side. We were there together." Together. She means it by the soft rasp of her words.

Sitting up is the last thing John expects the redhead to do. She may not be able to find the eye contact and assurances she wants, but she's more comfortable, and he's anchored there on the cot, held to his spot by that same comfort; and her touch. "This wasn't about checking in or confirming purpose; any of us is smart enough to see he was there doing the same fucking thing we were, just nobody bothered to send a text." Exactly what it is about is a little murkier to John, though.

"You're all wrapped up in trying to create this set of terms and lines to let that guy do what he does without stepping on or getting stepped on by the -rest- of your family, but we both know a man like that one is gonna do what he thinks he ought to, moment to moment, based on what bouncing from 'Anger' to 'Bargaining' like a ping-pong match between grief and wrath." There's more bite than he's had before for the Punisher — but it's not about looking down on the man. John's been in a similar place, or at least he -thinks- he has, close enough to know the magnitude there is nothing anyone can reliably manage. There's resentment there for exactly what he said before: shit like that gets other people hurt. It gets Babs hurt.

"I don't know if you bolted because of your feelings, your feelings, or your feelings…" there's three distinct and obvious impetuses John sees for Babs choosing to suddenly beeline from the room and tell him to sit tight, and probably several others besides. "— But fuck yeah you should've." Who else is going to do it? "Everybody else in that room would be just as happy I was out of the picture. 'cept maybe Matt." It's not really a revelation, or necessarily one hundred percent true, but it's certainly a weighty add to the magician's natural paranoia. As close as he came to being gutted before snapping to and doing serious damage in return, it's hard not to resent his date-slash-bodyguard for running after a man he knows she crushes on.

Or is he irritated that -she- got hurt doing it and he couldn't do anything about -her- getting fucked up one of those rare times maybe he -should- have? Had to stop to do 'right' John— should have just chased the redhead down. He's returned to a gentle course of stroking her hair, and the look that peers down into her lighter blues is equal parts longing and sad, with just a touch of doubtful. "Am I?" Family. It's a loaded word, a dangerous one, a thing John longs for but barely knows well enough -to- long for. "I'm not looped in. You're trying to figure out where I even fit, as I shake up what you had so neatly organized, luv."

There's a soft amusement alongside the conflicted emotions, and the warlock wets his thumb and lightly clears some dried blood from Barbara's lips. "And even your friends who know -me- best are telling you I'm good for exactly two bloody things." It's a subtle difference from the disapproval of some of her other connections. Barbara knows Frank better than the people telling her he's dangerous and off, even John. It's unnervingly inverted in a case or two here, and John takes a moment to be bitter about it; and realize it has to be eating Babs.

There's a quiet moment in the wake of his words with just her blue eyes looking up into his while he cares for her in this aftermath. The brush of his thumb, the grace of his hands through her hair, the weight of her head against his thigh. It is all a comfortable, soothing moment that is marred by the hurt that John feels, the way the pain and bitterness resonates through that pain. Then she closes her eyes, breathing out a slow breath that settles her deeper against him.

When she opens her eyes next, they meet his once more. "You talked to Jess." It has just taken her a few moments to realize that, to put the conversations together. She reaches up to gently touch his cheek, feeling the stubble that has thickened there into its normal roughness. Her knuckles and fingers glide up against his cheek and jaw. "John, you're complicated." Her words would be better if they weren't so roughened by extended trauma. But, she says them all the same. "The only boyfriend that anyone is ever going to like is this young Lieutenant who works for my dad. And that's not even a definite guarantee."

Then she curls her finger slowly behind his neck, brushing the fine hairs on the back of his neck. It's a comfort, a gentle touch that is meant to reconnect them. "I really wish you weren't so far up there. I really want to kiss you." Those words are murmured gently up at him, and then she rubs softer at his cheek once more before her hands collect at her chest once more. Her breath comes out slowly now, exhaling once more to sink her further against the Magician's legs. "Where do you want to fit, John? I feel like we edge around it, toe it, but don't actually talk about it. You've talked to Jess… I messed up our first real job together in a mixed setting. Maybe… this is the talk we need to have."

She hesitates just a heartbeat longer before she prompts him gently, "Do you love me, John?"

"Yeah." John talked to Jess, the day after he and Babs got back into town. She lured him in with free beer, and making him irritated she hadn't just called and asked to talk. It works. "Though she seemed to feel a little bad about it after we talked." Which is sharing a noteworthy chunk of information unspoken, really, if one knows Jess Jones.

"But ain't that the bloody truth." He's complicated. The magician knows it. He doesn't bother to pretend otherwise, at least not with her. Depending who you are, John might even apologize for it now and again. He relaxes subtly into her touch, muscles releasing some of their tense hold that outlasted the warlock's mediocre sleep, eyes closing a moment as he leans his head back into the wall— or rather, into the pillow that's smooshed back there that he'd been napping against. She cuddles in against him, and Constantine lightly strokes her cheek in turn, trailing down the smooth angles of her neck.

He doesn't immediately look back to Babs as she drops that bomb. Is that even a question you're supposed to ask someone? It's such a loaded one, for him. "If I don't, I don't know what I'm fucking doing here." Certainly not trying to use her up, as exhausted as they sometimes get. Certainly not just selfishly getting his jollies, because for as intense as all that is— he's certainly not lying any more to call her trouble than she is to call him complicated.

Still, there's half a smile when he leans forward, looks back at her, despite the lingering bitterness tinging his affection. "It's not that simple though, is it? Love can be a great or terrible thing, and both too fucking often, at that. I want to fit somewhere I fit, luv. I want to not rip it all apart just by being there." It's possible this alleged space does not exist, given the sad truths of the warlock's nature and lineage. "I don’t want you to hate me as much as anything else.” What does love matter when its very existence spawns resentment in turn? “I don't want you to turn on your heel the minute you glimpse me, a year or two from now, after I've loved you so hard it'll never stop bloody hurting."

That only sparks her interest more about the complicated topics that Jess and John covered, but she doesn't push it. She's already pushed it far enough. While he looks away, head tilted back into the wall, she continues to watch him with those soft blue eyes. She knows she's asked the wrong question, but there's no taking it back now. Part of her needs to know, in some ways, whether or not this is just an albeit long-term fling or something deeper, more meaningful, more meant to last.

His initial response is so John, and it actually makes her smile a tired little smile until he looks back down at her, meeting her gaze in that quiet moment shared between them. Now she really does start to sit up. It's painful, and the agony is nothing compared to her need to be on the same level with Constantine — literally. She gets herself propped up, leaning against John as she finally is resting comfortably, but easily against him.

"I don't want to take Jess's advice… and maybe her advice has changed now that she's talked to you. I don't want to just enjoy you and then get out." Her eyes search his for a long moment, closer now to him and able to really captured and read each of his features. When he mentions the pain of loving someone who then just… turns away… and she breathes a soft exhale. "I know that's what happened with Zatanna…" Or at least she's pretty sure that's what happened. The love that the two still share for each other is there, but it can't seem to win out against something else, something that may have poisoned the waters.

"I'll always make space for you, John." Those words are perhaps more powerful at the moment than any reciprocal profession of love. "Always. You don't have to try to find a place to fit, because I will make the space for you to fit." She ducks her chin slightly. "Loving me isn't easy." But that's something they have in common, isn't it? "That anger you're feeling… that we were there to back-up each other, and I made a call to go help an ally who didn't have that back-up… I'm going to make that call again." Her head dips slightly, leg and hip pressed up against him. "Is that going to be okay?"

In this case, John was being quite literal in crafting his metaphor: Zee had seen the pair of them at the bar, and booked it. While a hyperbolic characterization, it's not without aptness. At least in terms of how John felt about it. He slips an arm about her lightly, carefully, tracing the small of her back and kneading softly into one hip, avoiding her cracked ribs entirely.

His initial response is to tilt his head and press a brushing kiss against her forehead, and then her lips, the notes of the kiss tinged by the blood on her lips and tongue, undertoned by bittersweet sadness and inevitable pain. "No matter how much damage it does, eh?" Constantine isn't sure how he feels about that. Where -is- the line? "Always is a big promise." The dubious currents are evident in the magician's voice as on his tightly knitting brow. "But it's not really relevant either, is it?" John chuckles darkly at himself, a single beat.

"I can pretend all day I can make that call, be useful instead of a bit of a shit and step back when I'm wrecking things— but I'll always be too selfish for that. Too late to let go, too harsh clinging on, too goddamn difficult all the bloody time." It's not an unfair assessment, good work John. "You're gonna make your own calls and priorities, I'm not about to pretend otherwise fuckin' there, either. Just be nice if you'd actually let me look out for your ass." Such a nice ass. "Might have been able to skip all this." His smashed head, her everything else. It's not so much the decision to back Frank up that John has an issue with, as the decision to cut the warlock loose.

She did ask a question, though. "It's gonna be okay right up until the day it means one of us gets the other bloody killed." It's harsh, but definitely not pointed at her: it's an indictment of the both of them, and their unending efforts to die alone. "Jess said to make sure you knew it— do you?" That he thinks they have something worth keeping. "I damn well don't want you to get your jollies and be done with me." How often do you feel -that- way, John? It's usually more convenient. "I could get used to fitting into whatever spaces you make for me." Still incorrigible.

The first brush of the kiss warms her, and she tilts into it. Her own lips brush across his in a kiss that is not as satisfying as she wants it to be; she would rather melt into a kiss that speaks the words she's struggling to find. So, she leans her head back a bit to meet his eyes in this short, quiet space. Her mouth sets into a small frown, her brow furrowing slightly.

"It's my promise, and I get to make it." There's that touch of fire — a little burn that just lashes lightly against his self-doubt and uncertainty. Then she sighs and leans her head back against the pillow again. Her eyes search his from this new angle, and she is quiet for longer than she intends, longer than she should. He asks if she knows it, if she's aware, and she breathes out a breath that sinks her deeper into the pillow. "It's nice to hear," she says softly. "Without the metaphors or vague you knows."

Her body aches, her heart aches a bit, too… but then he goes incorrigible, and her smile blossoms back — soft and gentle. "John, next time… I promise… I will take you into the kitchen with me to get your ass kicked by a bunch of gangers wearing demon skeletons like body armor." There's a lightness there, but also something anchored in deep, honest emotion. Now she looks at him anew, eyes searching his.

"How hurt are you?"

"Alright." It may only be a shade or three less dubious, but it's certainly not because he doesn't sound -hopeful-. He meets her fiery gaze for the duration of the promise and response, reading the emotions behind her fatigued eyes with his own. There's a subtle spark of off-kilter amusement to it, as well— some things are so difficult for Babs to articulate, or even reason out. But the heartfelt promises, the romantic declarations of intent and zealous connections she definitely manages better than the magician.

As she settles back into the cot, he settles in beside her, gingerly conforming to the line she sets and pressing his body to hers. He's still wearing (most of) his bloodstained tux, the shirt half undone and tie hanging loose, askew. "What do you think was happening /everywhere else/ luv?" He nuzzles in lightly against her face, slipping an arm under her head and neck and snuggling in closer.

"I took a good crack to the head from— somewhere." John doesn't quite recall. "Got drug out into the gallery, they were… mauling everyone to death." Ritualistic, is John's suspicion. Either the terroristic depravities of mankind, or a cult in service to something worse. "Guess I was last in line." John shrugs. He's so very lucky. It all leaves a twinge of nausea in the back of his throat, the depths of his gut. "So were you right? Did you save his ass from certain death by only not-quite-fucking-dying?" Because John didn't save shit.

Her eyes close briefly, and she breathes out a soft, steadied breath as they settle together. Her fingertips trace along his jaw again, and then start to take in the sight of his tuxedo. She has to admire it a bit, it definitely doesn't look as unrecoverable as her gown. His question about everywhere else draws her eyes back up to his, and she releases a wearied sigh. It's apologetic without her saying those words, and her expression is a touch reproachful. "I know." She leans in close, and her lips touch his gently, conveying her apologies in those soft moments.

Then she starts to look over his head, touching gingerly along his hair. Only then does she hear the rest of his story, and her mouth tightens. "John — " Her regret is profound then. Her head sinks down to press her brow to his. There's a weight to that connection. The question he asks though… and she slowly nods. "There were eight of them back there. He needed the back-up." His slightly more barbed comment about not-quite-fucking-dying has her smiling a bit more wearily. She almost detects that unspoken clause. "You stopped them from doing what they did to more people, John."

Then she sighs out another breath, lips close to his. "Come on… let's go shower. I need to get out of this dress… and just… wash some of this night away." She brushes her nose across his. "You'll come with me, right?" It's the barest, honest moment where she feels insecure, uncertain that perhaps John needs space, that they aren't done, that there's more to unpack.

He squeezes her close more in the stiffening of arms than the actual press of that muscle around her, closing his eyes as Babs sets her forehead to his, and caressing her affectionately along hair and hip. He regret, remorse, it's not the same in him, but similar is there, twisted through a fun-house mirror of nature and circumstance. "So did you." Maybe John did save someone else by taking out those particular gangercultists— he's not sure. Either way, he'd have definitely prioritized skewing Barbara's odds, truth be told.

She murmurs her question, nuzzles his nose, and John's first response is to press his lips to hers for a lingering, passionate kiss; slow, deep, and endlessly intense. "Anywhere." It's whispered against the redhead's lips in turn, and John's extricating his arm from around her to push himself up off the cot— as usual, he more rolls off it than tries to actually support himself on the thing. It works.

A hand forestalls Babs from rising, and assuming she listens, he scoops to just pick her up where she curls, trying not to jostle her midsection too harshly, doing his best to keep her bent about the same angle. He's careful maneuvering the tighter squeezes either way, supporting her to the bathroom and guiding her to a seat on the toilet before he messes with getting the water just right— something he's watched her do and done himself a number of times, now, thinking about it. "You're still gorgeous." He remarks with a wry, fond smile to the blood-spattered, battered redhead in the tatters of gold.

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