The Exorcism of Alysia Yeoh
Roleplaying Log: The Exorcism of Alysia Yeoh
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Barbara calls on John Constantine when her roommate starts showing signs of possession.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: November 19, 2018
IC Location: Various Locations in Cobble Hill
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 26 Nov 2018 20:55
Rating & Warnings: R for language
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: Constantine
Associated Plots

Missing opening poses; will be added when found.

The knuckle-kiss redoubles her smile — even if it's a little crooked at the absurdity of John Constantine being courtly. She steps in close once he's done with the oh-so British greeting, and goes up on the balls of her feet to hug him. It reconnects the two old souls for a moment, and then she's back on her feet and stepping back to guide him toward the side door.

"I'm ashamed of you… letting your pesky organs get the better of you, John Constantine. It's embarrassing." Then she unlocks the door with a key on her heavy, muggers-beware keyring and holds the door open for him.

The library is dim, and quiet, and almost sleepy. The tight dark carpet dispersed across glossy cement floors only adds to the drowsy feel of the interior. She waits until he's stepped inside before she lets the door shut quietly behind him.

"Welcome to my library," she says, tone warm and affectionate for the space. It's an odd change, considering when her and John were a thing she was on the path to become a cop, investing her schooling into law and order. Now she's a librarian.

The absurdity, the humor— in this case, it's half the charm, isn't it? At least, that's likely the impetus to inspire the Hellblazer to transmogrify into the world's least well-dressed gentleman. There's a momentary pause at the embrace, and then it's returned, with paradoxical tension and relaxation— as if the simple gesture were at once welcome respite and alarming complication. He's a complicated man.

The reciprocated squeeze is somewhere between fierce and tender, eyes lingering on Barbara's a moment as she steps away, until she turns to that door. "Don't be ridiculous." He argues simply, "I'm gonna kick all 'a their asses." John steps inside the shadowed library with trusting ease— he's always wary for a trap, but for whatever reason, even with all the years between now and then? He doesn't suspect Barbara.

"A librarian, huh?" It's an oddly toned query. The Laughing Magician doesn't entirely buy it, and Babs might be alert enough to human nature by now to pick it up as he glances back over one shoulder and studies her in a rather different light. "Realized you couldn't associate with so many endearing miscreants on the straight and narrow, luv?" He was straight to business on the phone, but he takes his time now; there's catching up to do, and more than that… there's bearings to acquire.

That seems to be Barbara's normal — complicated men. Either she chooses them or she attracts them, and she really hasn't decided which it is. Maybe a little of both… see Frank Castle.

She can feel Constantine's eyes both before and after they are inside the quiet, dim library. The odd query turns her head toward him slightly, looking through the fall of her forelocks before she sweeps and tucks away the hair. "Are you labeling yourself as endearing?" Because she's not about to refute the miscreant thing. "And… my dad wasn't all that excited about the whole law enforcement career path, and even less so after I was in the precinct when a lockdown happened." All true, but there's something else going unsaid. She starts toward the monstrous stairs that lead up to the second floor, stepping through the stacks toward the open atrium at the heart of the library — and also the stairs and elevators.

It's always a little bit of both, isn't it? Conscious choice and instinctual compulsion, the complexities of what one thinks they want and what makes them think they want it. John hasn't puzzled it out yet, and truth be told, he's largely stopped trying. Some things, man wasn't meant to understand. Even amongst all the other deeper mysteries.

John's wry grin touches his eyes with a twinkle, "I have my moments." He compromises, trailing a short distance after Barbara for, well, the obvious reason. "If my shoddy-ass memory serves…" Constantine considers, and frankly, sometimes it doesn't— but the man's far sharper than some like to imagine.

".. much as you wanted to make the guy proud, doing what you wanted under the radar -anyway- was always the modus operandi, eh?" As mentioned, he's sharper than he looks. "… I -really- hope I'm here to get rid of an angry librarian ghost." He muses in afterthought, apropos of nothing much at all.

The wry grin is returned in kind as Barbara softens to it, relaxing into the moment with John. She looks at the stairs, and then to the lung-killer Constantine. "Can you hoof it, or should we take the elevator?" She teases him gently as she alights on the first stair, assuming he will gruffly tromp up the stairs with her to the second floor.

The recall of Barbara and her complicated relationship with her father stops her a moment, and she pivots back to him, now a step up and almost even with John now. She meets his eyes easily, head tilting slightly. "Do you know how irritating it has always been when you do that? Play all casual and never-you-mind, and then spout off something with Robin Hood aim…" Then she turns to resume up the next step, shaking her head ruefully at his afterthought. "No… if there's ghosts here, they mind their manners." She hesitates, glancing back over her shoulder.

"… I think my old roommate is possessed."

"I don't know— how many flights we talking?" Constantine inquires with entirely feigned uncertainty. 'Running the hell away' is an important artform in his line of work, more important than is strictly proud to admit, and he can definitely handle the alleged exertion before him.

When Barbara stops, John takes the next step, and stops as well. When she turns, his eyes have to rise back to hers despite the equivocal height. This, and her words, prompt a lopsided smile. "I do, yea." He admits, "But you're probably even more used to feeling like— if not straight up -being- the smartest person in any given room than I am." Arrow number two is loose. "Always a pain in the ass when that gets fucked up."

It's interesting, the man's artful ability to be at once self-deprecating and self-aggrandizing; even as he simultaneously zeroes in on a shared flaw -and- compliments Barbara in turn. He pauses a step or two behind once more as she resumes her ascent, though this time the glance draws his eyes more quickly. "Possessed, eh? More fuckin' demons. Pieces of shit never take a god damn holiday." See what he did, there?

Barbara just rolls her eyes slightly at the double-tap of self-deprecation and self-aggrandizing, and she glances away soon after his grumbling to continue up the stairs. "Lots changed in six years, John… because now I can outsmart you and kick your ass."

She doesn't speak again until she's a few more steps up, slowing a bit so he can join her on the landing halfway up the staircase. "I think this is all from New York… Alysia went to visit, and came back a little off… and that little off just magnified every day." She keeps up the stairs until they are on the second floor landing, and there she leads him back into the stacks, talking as she walks.

"Started with paranoia… then talking to herself…" Her voice tightens slightly after a heartbeat, and she looks back to John as they slip down between two stacks in the nonfiction section. "I went to visit her last night… she tried to kill me with a kitchen knife… before she climbed up the walls, and crawled across the ceiling to escape upstairs."

"Promises, promises." John teases as he joins Barbara on the landing. He moves up next to her and leans, settling his backside against the bannister and momentarily scanning over the floor below with a pensive consideration as he hears her out. By the time the story is told, Constantine's eyes are back on Babs, and he nods slowly.

"Lots of things love the chance to hang out in the right host." He notes softly, "Sometimes legit hellspawn, sometimes this spirit or that, some ghosts and wraiths even manage to work up the mojo for possession; depends on what they're after and how strongly driven they are to get their point across. … and how frustrated they've gotten by the rest of us not getting it."

Still, with the all but literal iteration of Hell-on-Earth that swept NYC? It's easy to jump to demonic conclusions— but these sorts of things stir up all sorts of metaphysical silt, metaphorically speaking. "Hell, maybe she's just the newest yet-another-Spider-Hero." He doesn't really believe that— John's a ridiculously lucky man, a ridiculous amount of the time, but seldom in -that- manner.

"Fought off a possessed lady with a kitchen knife, huh? Fancy." Constantine doesn't press the issue, he just asks the rhetorical question, and files it away right in the folder started with his prior observations.

As someone who nerds out with Spider-Man, she cocks him an amused look with a half-tilt of her head. "I thought at first that it might be this new street drug we're seeing in Gotham… but I checked her eyes… you know, while she was trying to eviscerate me… no blue glow. I think this is something… not natural." She actually sighs, the blissfully logical Barbara having to actually surrender to the next idea, "Supernatural."

It isn't that John didn't give her some insights on the other worlds, but she was a twenty-year-old college girl who was a vigilante-obsessed amateur journalist while she attended her criminal sciences courses. Sprinkle a bit of the weird, and she was right at home.

Still is right at home.

Barbara opens a door, and it leads into her tucked-away office at the back of the stacks. Once John is inside, she shuts the door — as if this empty library might have ears. She tucks a bit of hair behind her ear while she gestures for him to take a seat, or not… but there is a couch with an opened, upside-down book on the arm like she had been reading, and then was called away. There's a desk, and family photos, and a view of the neighborhoods of Cobble Hill. Some bobbleheads line the front of her desk — and they are all classic authors from Shakespeare to George R.R. Martin.

"I locked her in the bedroom… and added some salt on the doorway." She hesitates. "I saw it on Supernatural… probably doesn't work."

"Yea because designer street drugs that make you flip out and climb the ceiling with blue glowing eyes are the -definition- of natural order." John drily appends, because no situation doesn't benefit from sarcasm. The Hellblazer knew less of those other worlds than now, much as he felt he knew it all— but now? Now he's even less inclined to introduce anyone to that knowledge. It's dangerous. It's gotten so many people killed.

For a moment, as he settles slouchingly into the couch cushions, there's a distant melancholy to the eyes that study Barbara. He shakes it off by eyeballing the spine of the book-in-progress. "Salt's a purifying agent, lots of malevolent spirits can't stand the stuff. Any demon worth its salt" hah hah hah, John. " will break the line, though, without other safeguards. Temporary measure, at best." But, that's why he's here. Right?

Constantine regards Barbara thoughtfully, opening his mouth as if to add something, and then shutting it anew, and smiling a touch cheekily despite it all. Instead: "Exorcism of all stripes has become something of a specialty." Don't ask him why. "If there's a way to get her back, I'll find it."

"You have no idea," Barbara sighs out under her breath. She stands there for a heartbeat, awkwardly rubbing at the back of her head and neck now that John has slumped into her couch. She spots him eyeing the book, and half-wonders if he will judge her for reading Jane Eyre. It is one of those soppy Victorian-era romances that is in hot debate between feminists on its credibility as a 'first feminist novel.'

She hesitates, and then slowly — almost cautiously — approaches the couch so she can drop down beside him. She leans forward, elbows sinking into her knees and hands curling up around the back of her neck. His almost academic delivery of the information causes her to turn her gaze toward him, and her brows quirk a bit at the cheeky announcement of his newfound expertise.

"Well, I stayed over at her house… which was…" She closes her eyes as she looks away. "An experience I did not need…" Because sleeping in the same house as a possessed woman who tried to kill you means not actually sleeping.

"You might be surprised. It wouldn't be the first drug with mystical overtones; not by a long shot." Magi have been modifying and creating alchemical compounds and unusual herbal properties for quiiiiite awhile now. One fingertip traces the spine of that volume pensively, but if Constantine has judgements or derision to impart, they're not spoken. It's more absorbed as a curiosity; another piece of a new, old puzzle.

John's attention is drawn by Barbara's approach, along with a brief smile for the redhead as she drops down beside him. It's at once rather familiar, and entirely different— neither is who they once were. Or at least, who they thought they were, then. For his part, it's generally regarded as a good thing; if a definitive pain in the /ass/.

As she recounts the experience he lifts the arm closest to her to stretch around and offer a squeeze to the woman's opposite shoulder, somewhere in the intermingling web of tentative, supportive, and affectionate. "In fairness luv. That's true whether the woman trying to kill you is possessed or -not-." It's a clear interjection of levity— if also entirely accurate.

"Mystical drugs," Barbara repeats reproachfully. "I really hate my job." Those words slip from her in a hush, and perhaps reveals another little corner of oddness that is Barbara Gordon's life. Then she turns her head toward him, opening her eyes to meet his blue gaze as the weight of his arm is welcomed across her shoulder.

"It's been a long six years, hasn't it?" She smiles a bit weakly as she looks at the man.

Here, in a quiet moment shared between the two, the redhead turns toward him, pulling her leg up onto the couch and curling her arm around it. "John… I'm sorry… about coming back here… about leaving New York… and without any explanation."

"Librarian is a tough gig." John quips lightly. He's no idiot, outclassed here or not, but neither does he seem particularly concerned or offended by the secrets Barbara obviously keeps. Everyone has 'em, especially people who need -his- brand of expertise. There's a moment spent studying the depths of her mirroring gaze, and then Constantine nods once, slowly but surely. "It definitely has."

The apology just draws a bit of a smile. "I'm the last person with a right to judge someone for jumping where they thought they should jump, or walking where they bloody want to walk." He notes softly, "Especially -then-, god damn I was a selfish prick. … more of a selfish prick." This likely bothers him more than the former, but it scarcely shows.

"All my time spent on rock, drugs, fucking hot college girls— and other people over." When he wasn't causing -real- trouble. There's a trace of a chuckle that fades easily into the air between them, the arm around her tightening and more fully circling her shoulders as Barbara shifts towards him. "Besides— even /Gotham/ was probably a safer choice."

"You ever seen what some people do to books?" It's a pleasant quip that distracts her from her dark thinking about her night job. "It would give you nightmares. You would be surprised what ends up being written in the margins of the Twilight books."

Then the humor subsides as their conversation resumes with more serious tones. She curls her other arm up against the one wrapping around her shoulders, and the physical moment between the two seems to be something she needs. It has been a shitty forty-eight hours, and that's ignoring the shitty few months that came before it.

Her soft expression falters a bit, and she's frowning as he talks the past — a past she doesn't quite remember the same way, but maybe she missed the signs. When he mentions Gotham being a safer choice, she snorts and rolls her eyes before she fixes him with a serious look. "I liked you, John… I mean… not everything about you. But there were parts of you that I liked. Really liked." Barbara touches his shoulder gently, strong fingers squeezing lightly. "So, maybe don't be quite so hard on yourself."

"I'd argue with you luv, but I'm not sure even -my- nightmares match vandalized Twilight novels." Humor, weight, humor, weight. It's a dance he's pretty good at, ironic as it may be. "Parts of me are pretty damned memorable." He teases lightly, rather than fully accepting the implied absolution.

"But yea" the arm not pressed between redhead and couch rises, guiding a hand to do her favored fidget for her and brush those locks back from her face, fingertips lightly tracing down along cheek and chin in the aftermath. " I liked you too. It was good; simple… least by my standards." The note of laughter is more breath than anything, replaced with a deep inhalation after it passes, a relaxing effort accompanied by subconsciously recollected scent that similarly eases his own tension. She's not the only one having a bad few weeks; a difficult few months. A pain in the ass few -years-.

"Not gonna lie, I'm even halfway glad to be here to do what's bound to be a bullshit job." The corner of his mouth quirks, and John gently nudges Barbara's chin upwards and leans in, the proffered kiss gentle, even tentative after a fashion— but sincere and warm.

"I kept them… because one day, they might be the only thing I have to fend off a succubus." Beat pause. "Those exist, right?" It's easy for Barbara to engage in this banter with John — perhaps because they two are masterful at the back and forth.

When he tucks back a bit of her red hair behind her ear, she looks up at him with those steady blue eyes. The grace of his fingertips across her skin brings out the dimples when she smiles again. "It isn't so simple anymore, and it wasn't going to be… I didn't think I could keep up with it."

She would have protested more, but then he's bringing up her chin to so her lips can meet his. The gentle kiss is returned, and it's accompanied by her own warmth and sincerity. It relieves some of the loneliness that has been haunting her lately — human contact is good for that.

She ducks away after a moment, looking down after a heartbeat. She shakes her head after a moment, her lips folding together as a soft almost laugh is caught in her throat. When she looks up at him, she shakes her head slightly. "Just so we're both clear, I really do have a possessed roommate and this wasn't some awkward attempt to check in on an ex-boyfriend…"

"They sure do." Constantine could lie to her, but she'd probably know it. Instead, he speaks frankly if obliquely from a place of… well, some direct familiarity, let's say. Or maybe he's just momentarily addle-brained by the exchange. "Maybe just relative to all the -other- complex shit, then." John offers a half-hearted shrug with his free shoulder, lightly toying with a lock of red hair that falls over the other hand.

Half or so of a bemused smile creeps onto his face and John shakes his head once, "Didn't figure you were shining me on, luv." He notes honestly, words maintaining a quiet, subdued conversational air. It's a moment of relative peace despite the rest of the equation, and he welcomes it just as fully.

"Or is that just a roundabout way of telling me 'don't do that again, and get to work, y' bloody tosser'?" The bemusement grows into a momentary, moderately lupine grin— it's not something he entirely expects to be accurate, but it does seem more likely than the entire thing being a ruse. "Not that I -shouldn't- get to work on it, eh?" Even if it's clear that, in this moment, it's -really- not what he wants to do. Go figure.

"What a strange world we live in," Barbara murmurs more or less to herself. For all she knows, there's werewolves and vampires, and everything she believes to be fiction is not. The musing thought that Bram Stoker actually wrote Dracula as a guide against vampires has her half-distractedly wondering if she should re-shelf with other informative narratives.

Then John is bringing her back to the here and now, and she's forgetting the complicated matter of organizing the library in favor of admiring the disheveled Magician she has on her office couch.

"No." The word is said softly, and she smiles a bit ruefully at John. "I mean… yes… you really should get to work… and I want to help." She brushes the back of her knuckles up against his jaw and cheek before her hand curves up around the back of his neck before she leans in to offer a second kiss that lingers just a heartbeat longer than the first. "And then maybe we can get in some drunken karaoke."

"Babe, you do -not- want to know." It's not just a sardonic brush-off. It's possibly the most heartfelt warning she's gotten thus far, tonight. It's a good thing he -doesn't- know she's pondering rearranging the library to sell the public on true supernatural natures and tactics! What a terrible plan. John's life is rough.

Even before Barbara clarifies, Constantine reads the response loud and clear, smile easing into a simply warm, lingering remnant. Any response is forestalled by returning that more certain kiss, subtly deepened in those passing moments. Heat was never a lacking element, here.

John exhales a consciously tension-releasing note and the arm around the redhead squeezes her firmly against him for a moment, dropping his own weight back into the couch with the exchange. "Yes. Right." Where were they? Something something exorcism. "Your place then, luv?" Incorrigible even in vague professionalism, naturally.

"Here's the thing… I do want to know. Being oblivious is the worst state anyone in this world can be in. Look at how crazy things got in New York because people don't know or don't believe." She leans her head against his arm gently. "Knowledge is power, John. I think we can both agree with that."

Then she spends a heartbeat longer in this close embrace with the Magician — just the closeness satisfying a need that all humans have. Then she exhales with his firmer squeeze, and relaxes into it until the release comes, and she's unwinding from the man to alight back on the tight berber carpet of her office.

She pauses at the edge of the couch, looking over her shoulder back at him. The lopsided smile is more than a little amused. "Oh, hon… I'm not taking you back to my place… that's not the right environment to get any work done." Mostly because Dinah would probably be at a breaking point if Barbara showed up with John. "But I'll take you to Alysia's. She's been staying at her parents place while they were on an extended trip to visit family in China… so, let's try not to break anything while we're there."

"Most of the time, I'd agree with you." John acquiesces, but one doesn't have to be a genius to see there's a rather large 'but' in that equation. It's held as Barbara rises, arm loosening to facilitate an easy job of it, though not without a familiar tracing of fingertips on the egress. "This is different, though. The more you delve, the more eyes you draw. You won't see 'em until it's too late—" Constantine sure didn't.. and he's seen it play out way, way too many times since.

"— Magic is powerful, but it's power that always comes at a premium, and knowledge that signals participation in an ancient game of chess between the biggest assholes the universe has to offer, luv. What happened to New York wasn't because no one convinced the world demons were real, or taught 'em how to fight against them. What happened in New York was the result of someone delving too deep, getting corrupted by it… gaining too much knowledge, so much power that it overwhelms any other purpose. And that's assuming you aren't a finger puppet years before you get enough knowledge to cope with the fights you're suddenly picking."

John's face is a mask of pain and certitude, invisible scars etched beneath his scruff far exceeding his years. "Trust me— the less people know, the safer they are. Most of the shit that's out there isn't even interested until it catches you looking." John remains on the couch a few moments longer, eyes steady on the redhead. He's not kidding, and he's not selling her short. He's paid for who he is, and what he does already; he's paid a lot.

There's a profound sigh as he rises, already not expecting her to heed the warning as he cants his head eyeing Barbara askance and chuckles. "Ah, former roommate, right, got it." Somehow, an incidental or two might have gotten lost. Go figure. "I'll do what I can." He's definitely not promising not to break anything. As established, John's not a moron. "Take away." He whimsically appends, offering an arm.

"John — " She starts, only to be interrupted by the way his face changes. It sinks her heart. How many people does she know now that holds that deep, unsettled look… seen too much, done too much, didn't do enough. It's enough to make her want to sink back down onto the couch and give him a few more safe moments. Her mouth tightens a bit, and she worriedly tucks away her hair once more behind her ear.

"I'm not a Magician. I'm… a Librarian." The half-lie catches a bit, and she looks down as she slides her hands into the pockets of her motocross jacket. "I'm just looking to help, and I need knowledge to do that." She looks up at him after a moment. "I need to understand things." Her brows furrow slightly as she lifts her blue eyes back up to him as he rises back to his taller height. "And you'd be surprised how well I can take care of myself these days."

Then she steps in closer to him, fingertips casually fixing the collar and lapels of his jacket in the same casual way she has always done. Only once she's smoothed out a shoulder does her hand drift down to scoop around his offered arm. "Hope you like motorcycles." Then she starts to lead him back out.

'All of the above' in this case. John's acted recklessly when he should have refused, given in when he should have stood strong, failed to act when he should have, and above all— he's Seen Some Shit(tm). He doesn't bother to hide it, despite his strong desire to; it's for Barbara's sake, as much as anything else. Comfort is nice, but the Point of all this is far, far more important to him.

"As librarians do." He teases lightly, offering only fleeting objection by way of a "Tch." and a half-hearted swat at one hand as she smoothes out some of his ruffled edges. He has an image to protect; being presentable is tremendously off-brand. "Doesn't change a thing— let me handle this one, luv. Let me handle all this horseshit. Please."

There's a beat, just long enough for a hint of the plaintive to sink in. "But no… I wouldn't be surprised." He's half right. There's a playful shift of his weight abruptly against her as Barbara starts off, half a shove, half a hip-bump, as John falls in step. "Do I get to ride bitch?" He queries, shifting gears towards practiced, eagerly sardonic nonsense.

Barbara curls her arm tighter around his until her cheek rests against the ball of his shoulder. His scent has changed, just as he has changed. She looks up at him with a tilt of her head before she smiles gently. "Alright, John. I'll let you handle this one. Just this once."

They are stepping out into the dark stacks and then toward the stairs, and she starts to laugh at his light query. "Sorry, hon… I don't ride bitch, so someone has to." She gives him a tug. "Don't worry, though… I'm going to make you wear a helmet." Then she's leading him back down the stairs so they can retrace their steps out to the alley where her bike is parked.

Small victories. It's the immediate issue handled, and in John's life? That often has to be enough. It's clear he's not accepting the terms, though— just going with them in the moment, as he offers a half-hearted nod. There's no further resistance to the path back into the shadows and through the library to her ride, only a soft answering chuckle in return.

"Don't worry about it." He's not taking one for the team— Constantine authentically seems not to care. If such things were enough to be emasculating or upsetting? Well, he wouldn't have lasted this long in -his- life, that's for damn sure. "That's good, safety first." He returns to dry and sarcastic all too easily, like a compass resetting to its natural orientation. "Wouldn't want me to take any unnecessary risks."

"Yes. We only like you to take necessary risks."

They step outside in the cold Gotham fall night. She steps for her bike — a sleek, black motorcycle that looks like it could dominant the street by being nimble and fast. There's two helmets secured to the bike with a lock mechanism, and she unlocks both before handing one to John. Her loaner helmet is at least not terrible to look at.

"Alright. Do you need anything?" She looks at him more critically now. "Um. Holy water? Gigantic wooden crosses?" She shrugs a shoulder. "Whiskey?"

John laughs quietly in turn. "Touche'." he accepts graciously, along with the helmet. Really, the way his luck runs? He probably doesn't need it, but it's not a fight he feels like engaging. "Yea, luv. Might need a bunch of shit— but I live my life by the Scout motto." He doesn't— but it's also not a falsehood, entirely.

Constantine knows his art, and he came prepared. Right down to the flask he takes a deep swig off, and offers one to Barbara, before tucking it back into his coat. The Hellblazer uncomplainingly takes the seat behind Barbara once she mounts up, and really, who can blame him? Both arms wrap fully and firmly around her waist.

Barbara blinks slightly toward him, holding her own helmet. "I really hope we're not talking about literal shit, because I have lines, John…" There's so many ways that could be taken, but this is Barbara Gordon. She then taps her helmet down into place, and slides in her padded gloves. Motocross is not a new hobby for Barbara, as she rode plenty when she was in college. This bike just lacks the yellow Bat emblem to really put two-and-two together — though, seriously, who hasn't squinted thoughtfully at the red-headed motocrosser and not thought, 'Huh, Batgirl and Babs have a lot in common'?

She scoots up on the saddle to make room for John behind her. Then she's being offered a flask, and her blue eyes meet his with the visor still up. "Maybe after we get to Alysia's." She then rights the bike, kicks back the kickstand, and feels the weight of John on the bike. She kicks the throttle, and then zips out of the alley and into Gotham traffic to make the short journey to Alysia's.

"Literal shit isn't usually the best choice for purifying or banishing evil spirits." John reassures Barbara; after a fashion. After all, that does imply literal shit -is- the best choice for some other ritual purpose. Like he said: it always comes at a premium.

It's likely obvious by now that Constantine is aware, or at least suspects that the redhead hasn't so much given up her idealistic crusade as hidden it away beneath the semblance of normalcy, but direct association to Batgirl will have to wait. It's easy to instead hearken it back to the would-be hero cop he knew, the one who was simultaneously, paradoxically, as fed up with the whole system as John himself; almost.

It would be easier to savor the ride under other circumstances, but he manages a bit nonetheless, pressing into the closeness (for safety) all the way to their destination. Only then does he lean back, and pop off his helmet, setting it back onto its moorings.

"Let's walk the perimeter, make sure she hasn't busted out." He advises calmly, his voice shifting to near-stoicism— focused, intense. There was no unwarranted bravado in his earlier declaration of specialty. John reaches into his pocket and takes out what looks like a small container of lip balm, dipping one thumb into the oily tincture within.

There is no way in Heaven or Hell that Barbara ever wants to be in the position where literal shit is needed. Ritual or not. She doesn't voice that, but she probably doesn't need to based on her posture around the issue.

The ride is quick and painless, and she doesn't take any unnecessary side streets or short cuts with the trench-coat-wearing Magician on the bike behind her. When she pulls up outside the brownstone that houses Alysia's family apartment, she lets John dismount first before she takes off her helmet and shakes out her messy braid of red hair. She glances toward him at the seriousness that settles around him. It sobers her quick, and she shifts in her stance. "Alright, John. I'm following your lead."

Literally. She lets him lead the way around the building, staying just a step behind him. The sight of the container of lip balm catches her interest, and she steps in close with that air of curiosity. She doesn't ask verbally, but there's no hiding the question in her expression.

The brownstone is one of those old Gotham buildings that has seen a recent wash of gentrification despite its placement in Cherry Hill — a neighborhood painfully close to what everyone calls Crime Row. It's been washed and windows replaced and trim repainted, and it generally looks like it's ready to spread its revitalization to the buildings surrounding it.

There's a main entrance that has the line of labeled caller buttons, but then also three side-entrances that are probably just stairwells; each requires a keycard. One window is obviously off compared to the others: it's glass looks like it's covered in some kind of sickly yellow paper like someone is trying to block out the lights of the city and — if it was daytime — the sun. Otherwise, there's no odd signs around the building, no evidence that the demon has gotten out.

"Sanctified oil." Constantine explains simply of the obvious, unasked query. He tucks the container away for the moment, and begins a careful perusal of their destination. John paces the building slowly, eyeballing each entrance. He stoops by each door, tracing a fingertip along the ground and eyeing it closely, nodding to himself at the last of the side entrances.

The sigh that follows is half put-upon, and half-relieved all at once, somehow. "Looks like it's set up shop in there." Which is good— /and/ a goddamn pain in the ass. But less of one than tracking the potentially possessed girl all over Gotham. It's all relative, in this line of work. John stands upright once more after checking the last entrance and pulls a nondescript magnetic card from his spacious pockets, swiping it and opening the door as the indicator turns green.

Stepping through before Barbara has nothing, in this case, to do with lack of chivalry— John even half-politely keeps the door adjar with one foot for the redhead to follow, and then he's heading up the stairs, inexorably homing in on the unit bearing the covered-over windows.

When John breathes out his sigh of half-relief, Barbara is just off his shoulder with a tilt of her head. The assumption of where Alysia and her demonic half are draws her eyes up to the window and then back to John. "Alright, that's good…" Because she's not even sure how she would track a possessed girl around Gotham at this point… or at least without tracking for the bodies that might follow Alysia around.

When they get back to the door, she's reaching into her pocket for the keycard she swiped from Alysia's house only for John to produce one that… opens the door. She blinks. "John Constantine…" Her voice is chiding, but not enough to actually warrant concern. She catches the door from his foot, and follows after.

"Once we're in the apartment, she's upstairs… or at least I hope she is." Because, maybe Alysia got through the bedroom door and just not the apartment door…

"In and out, no one the wiser." At least, that's the theory. In practice there's almost always -some- enigmatic and fucked up marker for the processing of Constantine's professional tasks; but only some of that is rightfully on /him/. It's, again, just part of the job. A glitched entry in the access logs is a hard lead to follow, even for someone like the Bats.

The Hellblazer unhurriedly climbs to the proper point and draws another deep breath. "Here." He fishes in his overcoat for several items familiar to Barbara, if somewhat lower-end than she might be used to: reinforced zip-ties. "She's gonna be pissed off reeeal soon here."

Constantine uses his card once more to pop the inner door, and steps inside, his stance broad as he surveys the interior— largely to keep himself between the space and Babs. She can take care of herself, no doubt… but if this were a fight she was equipped for? The thing wouldn't still -be- here after she beat its ass.

A line on the door is one thing: there's nothing stopping a puppeteer from throwing her friend out the window and heading off, damage to the vessel notwithstanding. His left, non-oiled hand in a corresponding pocket, John strides farther into the apartment. Otherworldly laughter sounds through the halls, along with skittering passage along stairs and walls as Alysia approaches.

"Here we go…" John mutters. The demon obviously expected Barbara to return, and as it reaches the bottom of the stairs— or more appropriately, midway up the wall at the bottom of the stairs— the creature pauses, and cants her head. Then -charges-.

"You realize my father is the Commissioner." Barbara's tone is not all that threatening. In fact, she's quite amused by the fact that John just casually breaks the law. Does she know anyone who really keeps to the letter of it? Besides her father… mostly.

When they alight on the landing, the redhead turns toward him at his prompt. She blinks at the zip-ties that are given to her, and she looks over them. "They strong enough? She is a lot stronger than Alysia ever was on her own." Her words are almost reproachful, concerned.

Then she quiets, following after John in this strange, yet familiar place. She recognizes it, but not. Her eyes sweep the family photos that are mostly in shadow of Alysia and her family. The laughter breaks her reverie, and her mouth tightens into a hard line.

She must remember that this is only Alysia's body, not Alysia herself. How much would her roommate remember when this was all over? At John's words, her stance shifts — the graceful poise becomes a fighter's poise as she widens her steps and tightens her hands around the zip-ties. She's ready to dodge, not engage, staying to her promise: John will handle this one.

"Yep." John knows who Jim Gordon is. It's got the passive nonchalance of a man with much bigger concerns, just this minute, but let's be real— it's unlikely the Hellblazer would give a shit under any circumstances. Except maybe being arrested by the guy, that could be bad. "They're strong ones, they should hold long enough to do." It's not his first rodeo… and not-Alysia should have other problems to focus on.

Case in point: As she leaps half the distance towards them off the wall and lands on the floor in full sprint, John almost casually draws a hefty, jingling keyring that was previously concealed in his pocket. Constantine doesn't have a holy symbol— he has perhaps a dozen of them. Trinkets from every major religion, and then sigils someone like Barbara might recognize as relics of this or that increasingly ancient society. He holds the whole package up and jingle-jingles them before him in the instants before the possessed woman makes contact; she recoils as if physically struck, reeling momentarily.

It's only momentarily John needs. He steps forward and slaps the ring across her face with a visible flash of energy, and the artist formerly known as Alysia soars a short distance through the air to crash to her back on the hardwood.

The Hellblazer steps in over her and drops to one knee, pressing that anointed thumb firmly to her forehead, a sizzle complete with white smoke erupting from the contact point as an unearthly -screech- fills the living space. "You know who I am?" John asks through gritted teeth, anger seeping tangibly into the proceeding. It's clear immediately: he /hates/ these things. "John Constantine, asshole!"

Alysia's mouth opens but no English comes out, it's like the dark mirror of speaking in tongues, ancient and seemingly inarticulate… but one thing is clear. The entity recognizes the name. The entity is -outraged-. And perhaps terrified despite that fearsome rage. John begins chanting in his own ancient tongue, a low murmur of carefully enunciated verses tinged with ire of his own.

"Alysia, no — " it is a barely whispered plea before Alysia launches at them, but then there is that surge of energy from the relics on John's keychain. She is torn — reaching for Alysia and recoiling from the demon in the same heartbeat. Then she steps back, feeling the dark energy coming from Alysia like a stench that sends her stomach into a roil. This is different than anything she has ever experienced.

Wait, no. That's not true. She felt this before on the streets of New York City when she crossed paths with Frank. It's that same sickness that poisons her stomach, because it's touched her soul. There are things that need to stay inexperienced.

When John starts his work, she grabs for the closest improvised weapon she can find: a heavy metal cat that was being used as a bookend. It would brain someone without trouble. She hopes that she won't have to go to that place.

The words that spill from Alysia's lips makes her brain scrape for familiar words — she hears some familiar syllables, but they are nonsensical when strung together. Combined with John's chanting, she feels the tug of energy around her. She's felt this before — a vague sensitivity to the world around her.

She always describes it like someone walking across her grave.

Just this minute, trying to reach out to or negotiate with 'Alysia' is likely to get both she and Barbara hurt. The demon's had who knows exactly how long to put down roots, to create that peculiar dark resonance that it needs from her. John speaks several more verses as he maintains the mystical pressure, all but incapacitating the writhing woman. The screams continue, the outraged ranting, and then Constantine pauses, brow knitting.

A -shape- erupts from Alysia's chest— it's difficult to even call it an animal, malformed and unnatural. All flesh and teeth and formless fury. The wrathful laughter erupts again, and John is launched bodily upwards and back, skidding on his ass across the floor as he comes down, hard. "Fucking bollocks." He intones with the utmost class, once more wielding the blessed charms with one hand whilst the other digs in his trenchcoat.

"Motherfucker's trying to come through. To fucking /eat/ through!" He calls to Barbara without looking back to the redhead. "Ties!" His hand comes out of his pocket with… a very old strip of cloth? The Hellblazer speaks three more words— a tribal dialect predating what we know as 'Hebrew' today— and the cloth burns up in his grasp in a white-blue fire. The room -erupts- in a similar light, a pulsing brilliance that for a moment, is all one can see.

Unlike a more typical flash grenade, however, it does no lasting damage to either human's sight or hearing. 'Alysia' on the other hand writhes and falls to her knees mid-rise, clawing at her own eyes. "Nice try, shithead. But you're still small-time to me." The creature screams denial, blind and agonized as Constantine kicks to his feet and stalks forward anew.

"John," Barbara's voice sounds thready, fearful. It takes a lot to shake her, but this is doing its job. The sight of Alysia — writhing in pain, enraged by something that is not her, and being tortured by Constantine — has the redhead advancing behind him, torn between grabbing his shoulder and wrenching him back and turning away from him entirely. "John — " she repeats, voice choked and then silenced by his demand.

She fumbles with the ties before she is at his side, and reaching for one of Alysia's hands in hopes of grabbing the wrist in her tight grip. But then there's a pulse of light, and she closes her eyes tightly, turning into John's side with her hand dropped from Alysia and zip-ties spilling across the floor in a clatter of plastic.

She turns toward John and Alysia both now that the light has faded, and she scrambles back up to her own feet, grasping for at least two of the ties that are scattered about her feet. She advances with John — or a couple steps behind him.

In this instance, Barbara's impressive training works against her. She's used to mundane threats, military and martial arts tactics— but the rules of that ballgame are an entirely different affair. "Bloody fuckin'…" John trails off in favor of something productive, here, at last taking his eyes from the agonized demon for long enough to look the redhead squarely in the eyes. Not the soul-searching or sharing of earlier, but fiercely, firmly.

"You gotta trust me. If you want anything left of your friend…" He doesn't sugar coat it; he says exactly how it is. John grabs up one of the ties himself and throws himself into a lunging tackle, wrapping one arm around both of 'Alysia's' legs and, with a decidedly practiced hand, binding one foot to the other as the entity drives her to throw forceful elbows at him. He's clipped by one, wheezing out in a forced exhalation as his ribs rattle and the Hellblazer rolls clear. "… Then get your head in the damn game!"

A different incantation follows as he again presses his anointed hand against flesh, the energy he conjures and conjured clashing with the dark will of the entity within the woman, seeking to seal off the conduit feeding its power; at least momentarily. "We're gonna need that mirror. The big one, in the foyer." The old one, with the ornate frame; probably one of the more expensive items in the place. Under the circumstances, John doesn't even bother to couch it in apologetic tones.

This isn't Alysia, she tells herself. It's just her body. She will have to apologize once this is all done because Barbara darts forward with the zip-tie she has in hand. She hears John's words about the mirror, but she is taking an opportunity to get the girl by the wrist again. She's done this before, and so she relies on that instinctive muscle memory. She throws herself around Alysia, dragging the arm behind her to grab for the second. Then she has them both drawn together in a tight, sharp motion that might just dislocate the girl's shoulder before she secures the tie.

Then she looks at John over the writhing shoulder of Alysia as she realizes his request, and then she nods. "Alright. The mirror." If she had the time, she would think about exactly why he needs the mirror, but she promised him… his way. And her head is in the game.

The failed exorcism of a demon already partway transitioned into their world fully would be the point where most practitioners are, say, sent hurtling from a window to their deaths. But John is not most exorcists; he's not like most anyone, to be honest. There's a reason his name has weight and infamy straight to the heart of numerous hell-realms— actually, more like a bunch of reasons. There's nodded affirmation as Barbara acts, and acts with practiced precision, and Constantine rolls the woman over once more to rest squarely on her back, planting a hand forcefully over her eyes and pinning her head to the floor.

Three words are whispered, over and over, as Alysia's body is wracked by ragged breaths, writhing and thrashing but finding little strength to oppose her assailant, just this minute. It's uncertain how long John could maintain this hold without an alternative solution, but that solution arrives when the redhead lugs that towering mirror back towards the stairs. "Lean it up, make sure it's got her whole body in it, and then close your goddamn eyes until I say to open them!!"

The Hellblazer pauses his mantra only long enough to give the instruction, and trusts Barbara in turn to do her part— what other option is there, exactly? By this time the writhing is more a /vibration/, Alysia's entire body spasming like she were seizing, her skin bulging and distorting as what appear to be boils appear and recede, only to surge forth from a new pore. A time or three, it's a jagged-mawed, eyeless demonic visage instead, /roaring/ in protest.

The mirror is heavy and unwieldy, but Barbara has experience hefting along heavy and awkward objects. She's cleared debris several times before, and that's nothing to say of all she needed to do to set up the Belfry. She gets it against the wall, and she catches her reflection in the mirror — pale skin, wild red hair, and then she spots the reflection of John and the Alysia demon.

She finishes the directions, getting behind it and tilting the mirror just enough to get all of Alysia in its surface. Then she turns her head away, eyes closing tight as she prepares for… whatever is about to come. She wants to look, she wants to make sure that both John and Alysia are safe, but she's also not about to dare to defy John's orders.

Heavy, unwieldy objects— like John when he's way too drunk. The warlock doesn't check the situation until the clunk and clatter ebbs, all his focus on retaining control over the demon's desperate attempts to consume Alysia and fuel its escape, even prematurely. When the mirror settles, however, he does spare a glance— and then grins wickedly.

"Smile pretty, motherfucker." He advises, uncovering Alysia's eyes and rolling to the side, getting the hell out of the path between her and the mirror. The initial reaction as compelled lids open wide, eyes wildly dilating to saucers, is frozen shock. Then Alysia writhes upwards once more, and a shadowy swirl erupts from every orifice, blasting upwards and surging violently into the mirror, which suddenly begins to shudder in Barbara's grasp.

It's lucky she -can't- see the reflection— a malevolently shifting beast, its only consistent trait its ravenous maw, forming and reforming itself within the glass. Clawed appendages morph and strike, tendrils of fleshy shadow clashing against the pane as if the beast were, indeed, literally trapped behind it.

The mirror bulges outwards with each impact, reverberating through its posh frame, as John plucks the hefty kitty statue up from where the redhead dropped it— in a new dent in the floor, naturally. "Hey shithead." John addresses the beast in the mirror. "Give your fuckwit friends my regards." These regards, naturally, take the form of an extended middle finger. Before Constantine /smashes/ the mirror to bits with the decidedly solid likeness of an adorable cat.

Glass falls like glittering snow on a moonlit night, scattering everywhere around them. Alysia collapses backwards, her body going entirely limp— but not in death, in the sudden return of peace; relaxation. Barbara will no doubt immediately check— and find her friend breathing, slowly but deeply. Asleep. Utterly exhausted. John falls back into the nearest chair with a profound huff, and seeks out his flask.

Barbara hears everything, but her eyes are closed tightly at John's orders. She grips the mirror so tightly that her knuckles are white and she can feel the sharp edge of the ornate mirror bite into her skin. Then she feels the vibration start, and it only redoubles her grip. Then she recoils back at the sound of the shattering glass, and she drops her grip on the mirror. It clanks back into the wall, leaving a broad dent, and then everything is quiet and still. She breathes out a slow exhale, hands pressed into her thighs before she looks up, finally opening her eyes.

First she sees John, stepping back and leaving the bundle of Alysia on the ground. She steps forward quickly, dropping onto her knees and collecting Alysia's head gently in her lap. She strokes back her short dark hair, checking her pulse and feeling her warming skin. When she looks up at John, her smile is a bit watery and tired. She nods her thanks before she looks back down to Alysia.

There she stays for a few moments, just comforting her sleeping friend. Then she slips Alysia's head gently off her lap, and gets to her feet so she can get her friend a pillow and blanket, and make her comfortable now that peace has fallen around the entire unit. She gives John his space while also giving Alysia her attention until she's sure her friend is safe. Then she looks toward John, rising back up to her feet, and stepping his way. She touches his shoulder gently.

"You're going to explain that all to me later, but… for now… thank you."

John's happy enough to give Barbara however long she needs to see to her rather harried friend— he passes those moments drinking repeatedly, splitting his attention between his surroundings, and the two of them. He tosses her a lazy, haphazard salute with the initial small smile and thankful nod, his own expression softening as the redhead's attention returns to Alysia.

"Hard to say how much of this she'll remember. Different demons, different people— it varies." So she'll either be rather confused and upset about what the hell they did here, or need an awful lot of time and therapy. Still, it's better than being dead— the mantra that gets /him/ through the night, coincidentally. Constantine's free hand lifts to rest atop the redhead's, squeezing lightly. "I definitely ain't." He backtalks without hesitation— he explained all this earlier! "But you're welcome luv." Necessary risk, ladies and gentlemen.

"I'll wait to get the phone call from her tomorrow… it will either be her trying to figure out why her mother's favorite mirror is broken or to try to explain why she thinks she was… acting weird." Her eyes tick toward Alysia on the floor before she gently slips her fingers down around the flask that John holds. Her gentle touch has a coaxing quality that encourages him to release the flask to her, and then she brings it up to her lips to take a quick sip. She hopes he didn't catch how her fingers were just barely shaking when they touched his hand.

She returns the flask, and then gives his sleeve a tug. "Come on. I don't want her to wake with us here." She then starts to step back, giving him room to stand. She is careful around the dust and chunks of glass.

"Put it off til it resolves itself." John summarizes. "I approve." Of course he does. That Barbara was shaken by the experience is hardly news -now-. Not after she considered calling the whole thing off midstream… but the warlock's gracious enough not to mention it. Instead, he easily shares the liquor, and then rises just slightly shakily himself when bidden.

There's a nod of further agreement to the idea they should get the hell out of here, though Constantine linger a moment longer to kneel beside the spent woman and lightly salve the angry burn on her forehead with the scarcest amount of holy oil from his stash.

"Goddamn thing wasn't just looking for a finger puppet… it was going to consume her soul and body and bring its physical form into our world, Babs." The way he says it, John doesn't have to explain this isn't a common thing. At least, not for some centuries now.

Constantine lets out a deep sigh, still caught somewhere between relief and trepidation. "… the weakened barriers from that invasion are gonna be a problem for awhile." Unlike most freelancers, there's only a certain amount of pleasure to be had in -his- line of business booming. The Laughing Magician shakes his head and steps to the redhead's side, all too happy to follow her out of this place.

The care that John gives her roommate is noted, and appreciated, and she will make sure that she thanks him for that when the time is right. For now, though, his words have her frowning deeply at the Magician. She looks at Alysia past John, and all she can wonder is why her roommate was chosen for that.

She leads him down the stairs and out the door, not saying another word until they are out in the cool Gotham air. She steps onto the sidewalk, hands sliding into the pockets of her motocross jacket. She looks up at him once he's joined her. "John… thank you. For everything." She ducks her head a bit, tucking a bit of hair back behind her ear. Her braid is an absolute mess, half-undone and completely lopsided — a physical manifestation of how tonight has gone.

"Will this happen again?" She looks up at him, blue eyes serious. "Is she safe, or do you think they will come back?"

Wrong place, wrong time. Might just be the demon's type. Might have just been the first opportunity it had. Constantine doesn't bother verbally guessing why she was chosen, Instead, he's silent in turn as they walk the course back out to Barbara's motorcycle. There, her words, or perhaps the redhead's disheveled condition, prompt a small, somewhat tired smile.

"You're still welcome." The warlock reiterates, couching it in lightly teasing tones. "And yes— almost certainly, I'd wager. But probably not to -her-." There was no indication he picked up that Alysia brought this on herself, or was targeted for something beyond delicious-to-demons blood sacrifice.

"Any resentment for this little shindig should land right on my tally. And believe me luv, tonight's a drop in that bucket." He steps the last distance between them sidelong, and slips one arm around the redhead's waist in an affirming squeeze. "Told ya my path had some brambles." Profound understatement, John Constantine.

It's quiet at this hour — well after midnight when all is said and done. Gotham City actually does know when to sleep, and this appears to be it. She stands beside the motorcycle as John gives her just enough information to satisfy her, but in reality it only prompts more of her curiosity. The secrets they keep, and she feels a bit of a tired smile tug at her lips.

When his arm slides around her waist, she steps up closer to him. In that embrace, she drops her forehead to his shoulder and just breathes out a slow exhale.

"Was life like this when we were dating?" Her words are soft. "Did you go pull exorcisms at night when I was studying for a final?" She looks up at him after a while, barely a breath away from him now. "Or is this part of the life you've lead since then?"

The best time in a city like this, risks notwithstanding, in John's book. There's a certain peace to it; at least when it remains unbroken by gunfire or sirens, as just now. A brief kiss is pressed to the top of her head, and for a lingering moment after the questions renew, there's no answers offered. It's the kind of thing that trips him up, just a little bit, explaining that time of his life. 'Dating' isn't even the word that John tended to use.

"Sometimes." He admits, without much illumination, pausing another moment as Barbara looks up, the struggle for exactly what he /should/ say— much less how to explain any of it— evident in his eyes, if not in the warlock's placid expression. "But no, it wasn't like this. That was… right around the time it all caught up with me." He's spent a lot of the time since trying to make it right; or trying to forget it, to little success. "Wish I could tell you this is as bad as it usually gets, but…"

Constantine shrugs slightly, and leans forward the scant distance to bump her forehead with his nose, eyes closing. "It's really not a story I feel like tellin', luv. And if I did, it sure would ruin the night." There's a vaguely apologetic note to the words; guilt, shame, and something beyond it. A deep and personal scar, or perhaps set thereof, such that even people John trusts with his life seem like risky prospects for sharing.

One thing Barbara has learned since John: always make sure that both sides of intimacy agree with the definition. Dating, a fling, a nonexclusive period of intimacy… whatever it was that these two had is something that Barbara is only realizing was not everything she thought it was.

But who is she to judge? Nearly everyone she's dated since had no idea she was Batgirl by night, and sweet Librarian student by day. No wonder she's bounced from failed romance to failed romance. Woe is the vigilante who wears a mask.

When John dodges around the details, and then straight-up tells her that this isn't a story she's going to get to hear, her eyes close and she nods. It's a short, small motion that will not upset the touch of John's nose to her brow, and then she looks back up at him. "Because watching you exorcise one of my best friends didn't ruin the night?" Her lips twitch with a half-teasing smile.

When is anything exactly what everyone involved thinks it is? Much less something as complicated as /that/. Even with agreement and honesty, people get it wrong. That's something John's learned since: even with the /best/ intentions, it all can turn terribly frustrating in an instant. Sometimes, over and over again.

There's clearly affection there, though, fond memories at the -very- least. It may not seem it, but what Barbara's getting -is- open for Constantine, at least relative to the explanations most people would get along similar lines of questioning. Not that that makes any of it particularly easier to deal with, either! Complicated.

Contrarily, he's always had a good idea who she was, even if it's only become clearer to him -now- as opposed to -then-. It's easy to write off idealism in youth, but not nearly as much has changed there as Barbara might like to pretend; and John knows it. There's a lopsided half a smile, but this time, it doesn't quite reach his eyes. It's easier to hide the weight of such turns of events without actually talking about, or even around them. The redhead may not know quite what he's implying— but Constantine does.

"It'd be comforting to think that's as bad as it gets, eh?" The wit is, however, intact. "Things went sideways just a little bit more, we'd be dealing with a formless spawn designed mostly to murder us by the boatload. -After- it ate through your friend." Sugar coat it for her, why don't you, John? "In my business luv, that /is/ sticking the landing."

Complicated. That is pretty much going to be on Barbara Gordon's headstone. 'Loving Daughter. Complicated.' There's nothing beyond that… the only relationship that is simple is the one she has with Jim Gordon, even if he has no idea who she really is. Loving? Always. Honest? No.

Her smile softens a bit at the wit that John uses as a defense, and it just loses some of its gentleness when he mentions Alysia once more. Her head turns, eyes sweeping toward the floor that holds Alysia's destroyed family apartment, and the girl sleeping on the floor of what little sense remains. Then she shakes her head, looking away from the brownstone and back to John.

"No. I know it isn't. I went to New York City… I saw everything there…" She slips her hands up under the lapels of his trench coat, curling her hands lightly around the underside of his collar. She squeezes the rope of muscle that connects shoulders to neck gently and then she starts to release him.

"Cm'on… this isn't exactly the best part of Gotham to just hang around on the corner, even at this hour." She smiles ruefully, head tilting slightly. "Even if I'm sure you are quite capable and I'm not at all questioning your ability to protect me from the boogeymen of Gotham City." Then she begins to step back, one hand patting his chest gently.

She's not the only one. Truth be told, it would be a kinder epitaph than John might expect, himself. Even when things seem simple, easy to take for granted— how often does that image hold permanence instead of an eventual awakening to illusion? There's little inherently simple in the tightrope walked, even with a man like Jim Gordon. "You didn't." Constantine seems sure of that. Just a little bit stung by what all there was to see.

"You know who was responsible for all that noise and death and destruction? An abused child. An abused, human child." Some days, it's all too much even for -him-. Probably what prompts him to run off at the mouth with information that does nothing to lighten the mood, and everything to reinforce the direness of what he's been telling the redhead all along.

Constantine shakes his head, as if he could just deny it all away. "Or at least, what used to be human; what used to be a child." There's tension in his neck, tension in his shoulder, and at the moment? It's not even primarily the product of tantalizing proximity. It's a different kind of comfort he indulges; a rarer one at that, for the warlock. He vents, just a little.

When Barbara draws back, he's easy to convince, arm slipping from her and along her arm until fingertips drift apart. "Thought you were the one who could kick -my- ass." The Hellblazer observes without doubt or insecurity in the words. He knows a woman who can look out for herself when he sees one. "Guess that means I better do what you say."

Barbara's brows arch high above her eyes before they furrow down into a worried expression. She has no idea what John is talking about, and some of it sounds almost like ravings than truths — but that instinctive kick to the logical side of her brain is reigned back as she watches the pain gather around John. She shakes her head, looking as if she's about to say something, to refute something, or perhaps to even challenge him.

Then she feels the tension, and she drops her hand down to his to gather his fingers and squeeze them gently. Then she steps back, stretching open the space between them. She reaches for the helmet that John had been given before, and she hands it out to him with a sight tip of her wrist.

"I can kick your ass… and so you should do as I say." Then she grabs for her own helmet, and there she hesitates. She looks down toward the nearest corner where she would go if she was heading back to the florist shop, and then back toward John.

"I don't think there's any karaoke places open at this hour," she says, voice teetering between casual declaration and quiet interrogatory. So…

Go ahead, tell him he's wrong. Inspire John to share even -more- of the grotesque and alarming details. He'll do it!! Don't test him!! The Hellblazer is just as happy to hold his peace, though. It's off his chest, and he's done the best he can to reinforce the stakes. Those damnable stakes.

It is indeed a gaming table with the universe's biggest assholes— and in that forum? John's not even a contender, prick or no. The helmet hangs in his hand a moment without putting it on, leaning it and part of his weight onto the bike seat as Barbara's words spawn a more heartfelt smile anew; and then an outright grin.

Oh, the warlock's tempted to play dumb. Tempted to watch her squirm a little with getting it out, or backing away instead. But it's a gamble he doesn't want to make, just this moment. He takes his own step forward, and then another, languidly and unthreateningly entering her personal space again. Perhaps it's a different kind of threat, though. "That's alright." He murmurs quietly, eyes locked on her— though not on her gaze, this time, instead trailing downwards.

"I don't feel much like singing, anyway. Doing whatever you say, though…." it's barely a whisper. John leans in, and the kiss that would connect is several times more intent and passionate than the exchanges earlier in the evening, a sound and thorough lock full of half-spoken intent.

A good end to a shit night.

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