Give Me A Sandy Beach
Roleplaying Log: Give Me A Sandy Beach
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

After a long week that won't let up, John hooks Barbara up with a short trip to a beach.

Other Characters Referenced: Jessica Jones
IC Date: December 08, 2018
IC Location: New York City, Somewhere Unknown
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 12 Jan 2019 07:18
Rating & Warnings: R
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: None
Associated Plots

It is mid-afternoon in Manhattan. Barbara Gordon's meeting with Jessica Jones went as expected, with only one hit of turbulence. Okay, two hits of turbulence, particularly when Barbara suggested that maybe, perhaps, um, Jess should go talk to John. But, she left the office and stepped out to her bike parked on the curb, and got out her phone while her hip balances the helmet on the motorcycle's saddle.

The text she dropped to John simply read: Done. Where to?

John texts back an address— it's a maintenance office for a bridge on the Hudson attached to that same bridge, an unassuming, padlocked doorway concealed around the underside of one end's massive foundations. He's already there whenever Babs arrives, standing on the aging metal catwalk that crests the equally worn stairs leading up to said walkway, and the aforementioned door.

No matter how long it takes her, the warlock is suitably dramatically windblown on the approach, uncovered hair tousled wildly in the periodic, stiff breezes, his fingertips wrapped around the back half of a cigarette he's well on his way to finishing off. His trench coat's hem whips about his legs as if seeking escape, bound to its fate by the magician's broad shoulders. There's snow on the ground, but none of Constantine's tracks mar it; Barbara gets that honor.

The bike is parked and locked. There's something to be said about the locking systems on a Bat's motorcycle. It may be shiny and sleek, but no one is going to want to try to lift it — literally or figuratively. She grabs her helmet, and the duffel she's packed and bungeed to the saddle. Spotting John isn't hard, and she smiles at the sight of him. Her fingers tease her forelocks back into place, and the braid of red falls in a rope between her shoulders as she moves.

Motocross boots crunch unceremoniously across the snow. If John has plans for a beach, Barbara is going to have to change. She's in her black riding leathers, motocross jacket, and gloves. The scarf around her neck is a deep turquoise that plays nicely with her eyes, bringing out the deep hints of green that are almost undetectable at other times.

She starts up the stairs, bouncing lightly the last three steps until she's on the catwalk with him, and striding to him. The buffet of wind sends a right chill through her, and her teeth give a small chatter instinctively. "Alright, if this is your way to convince me that it's beachtime, you're doing a great job." There's a pause, and then she remembers something. Her smile — a bit tired at the edges — brightens a bit and she steps in close to press a kiss to the Magician's cheek. "Hello."

They've been forgetful about greetings lately.

They've been /creative/ about greetings. It's a totally different thing. Usually. Constantine just waits by the door as Babs advances, quietly admiring her approach, both for its obvious physical qualities and because, well, he's happy to see her, or something. "This is just New Fucking York, luv." John observes without missing a beat, slipping one of his own coated arms around the redhead's waist and squeezing her fondly.

This also maintains proximity long enough, as if that would be a struggle, to segue her cheek-peck into a slow, lingering press of his lips to hers. His own oversized duffel is sitting beside him on the walkway, forgotten for several long moments of just thoroughly kissing her.

Then she gets a nudge to the nose, and a quiet, "Hey there." Alongside a long, deep breath, a second, fond squeeze. "How's Jones?" He should probably have checked that himself, by now. Withdrawing from judgement and lingering in Barbara's beautiful wake, though? Definitely more appealing. Especially with that ever-niggling feeling that everyone close is a hair's breadth from bitter judgement; he's ironically correct all too often, isn't he?

"Some people like New York," Barbara points out ruefully with a small twitch of a smile. Then she steps in closer to him, her arms sweeping around his waist to match the squeeze that pulls her in. He has no trouble segueing her into the kiss.

Then he nudges and murmurs those words, and she smiles warmly up to meet his gaze. Though, her smile does falter just a bit at the ask after Jones, and she nuzzles her nose gentler against his as they linger close together. She's not sure how much to tell John, how much to maybe ruin their attempt at escape. She breathes out a slow exhale, and settles with a quiet: "I'm going to stay vague, because going into detail means talking about things neither of us really want to talk about right now… she's good. Told me if you don't make me happy not to waste my heart on you."

Then she curls her fingers into the popped collar of his trench coat, tugging him in closer to her so that she can almost curl into his trench coat with him. It's a familiar place, tucked against him. "Details can wait, though. Alright?"

There's a touch of puzzlement, a touch of hurt on John's face at the dismissal— though it doesn't seem to be directed at the redhead in any regard. Things that no one wants to talk about are never -super- reassuring, particularly along a thread that the magician already regarded with some paranoia. He nods, though; some of it, he can likely guess.

"Guess I can't take that too personally." The advice Jessica gave Babs, maybe not so much the rest of it. "Pretty sure I told you something real fucking similar a few times, now." He's not wrong. He cooperates in the effort to wrap herself in his trenchcoat, to press in close, and slips both arms more fully around her then. It can wait. "Yeah." he agrees, quietly. A touch uncertainty, a niggling in the back of his mind that wants to ruin the moment NOW. Then he leans in for a briefer, deeper kiss. "Let's put everything else off for forty-eight, fuck it all." Constantine decides, paragon of responsibility that he is.

"Only argument I'm gonna make is anybody who promises happiness is selling something that nobody should fucking buy. Let's make the terms more along the lines of breathtakingly alive." Every now and then, something he says is /actually/ pretty sweet, not just the skewed and lilting version. Is her experience better, richer with him in it, even when it's anything but happy? Then he's glad for it. “Let’s go somewhere warm, yeah?”

The puzzlement, the little touch of hurt, draws a soft and compromising smile to her lips. She pulls him in, and her lips touch his. In that moment, it carries soft emotions, gentle reassurances, and promises that when they step back into New York City or Gotham and their lives resume, she will tell him all she knows. For now, she just sinks and melds and lets him feel the soft thrum of her blood through her veins and heart.

When he murmurs those next words, she's dimpling up at him through the light fall of hair. Then she reaches up, starting to brush and tease through his windswept mane of blond before she pulls him down for just one more small kiss. It lets her murmur the next words softly against his lips: "Yeah, let's go somewhere warm."

Then she releases him, stepping back to take up her duffel. Hers is light, perhaps as a nod to the fact he told her to wear something skimpy. But, she's also very good at packing efficiently, so let's not sell Babs short yet.

"Guess we're going to you, then." John teases lightly, in compliment to the heat she provides tucked in with him. Or perhaps more strictly speaking, the heat /they/ provide pressed in together, with less surface area for the bastard wind to blow at. Either way, the magician blames Babs.

He languidly returns each of her kisses in turn, almost reluctant to release her when she accepts the suggestion that he himself made; life is full of difficult choices. His own duffel may be large, but it's not heavy, and Constantine shoulders it with only the most minimal complaint.

Then the warlock digs into a pocket for a heavy, old looking set of keys. So, so many keys. Big ones, small ones, old ones, new ones, golden ones, iron ones. Notably, they don't jangle in his grasp. Constantine selects one of the multitude without searching long at all and uses it to open the padlock on the maintenance door— a lock almost certainly not designed to accept that particular key.

It works, though, and the door creaks open to reveal a long, jagged-edged cavern that yawns, twisting downwards before them, its walls softly lit by bluish luminescence of what looks like a moss or fungi. "Don't touch anything." John advises, because a commanding tone just makes Babs run and rub her face on moss. "Stay right with me." He takes her hand to facilitate this, in fact, and fearlessly leads onward, into the seeming abyss.

Now Barbara takes notice of the keys, and her eyes travel to them to watch with interest while the blush fades. When he chooses one, her head tilts curiously until the padlock opens and door creaks into the… Barbara gasps quietly at the sight, not having expected that. She stays just behind him, looking inside at the cavern with its bioluminescent fungus. She hears his words, and the grip on her hand grounds her back to reality for a moment.

"What… where is this?" The question is quiet, uncertain. His advising words over commanding ones does the trick, and she stays close to him until they are almost touching arm-to-arm. She keeps looking around, trying to track the darkness and glow.

The door behind them swings closed, and there's only cave wall, as if the tunnel system dead-ended at this point, when they obviously both know that can't possibly be the case— right? John sticks close, sets a steady pace, neither hurried nor harried nor threatening, down the center of the impressive corridor. The deeper they go, the wider and taller it seems to grow, eventually accommodating mythical giants, one might imagine.

"Until the 20th century, most peoples' 'reality' was everything they could taste, smell, touch, see, or hear. Now anyone who's paying fucking attention — " not most people, in John's estimation, " — knows that /that/ shit is maybe one millionth of -this- reality. It all goes on and on in every direction; bigger, smaller, sideways and up." It's a difficult thing to explain, but in at least this instance, Barbara's foundation in science and math, in the infinite impossible fractals of the universe, it serves her.

"So in this world, you've got layers of possibilities, almost infinite space and scale. Then you step askew from that, and you're somewhere else— the laws are different, the scale's different, the ecology's something alien or askew. Can do that pretty much infinitely, too." He only says pretty much because it's impossible to test, and speaking with certitude when lacking it is simply bad form. "Then there's ways between, places nature and old magic and simple chaos or conspiracy have melded This Way to That Way amidst The Other."

The descending cave opens to an impossibly wide river, spanned by a bridge halfway to the clouds above, towering at heights they might never reach. The New York skyline is gone, only horizon and wickedly striating, discolored clouds that flash here and there with a purplish lightning. Only a few buildings loom in the distance, as if shrouded beyond impenetrable mist, their silhouettes dissonant and alien, no uniformity from one tower to another. The pathway here opens lined with the thickest, fiercest briars one might ever see, their hedgerows at once a paradoxical picture of chaotic spread and perfect order— a fortress of bramble.

Barbara is listening. Her hand is firm and warm in John's hand, her ears catching every word, and her eyes are taking in each sight as it opens before it, unfurling in an amazing puzzle of strangeness. She keeps looking up and down and around, and her ears are perked to noises beyond the warm tones of John's accented words. When they get to the cavern, he can feel her twist away from him, looking behind her and above her with backward steps.

"String theory." The words escape her easily. "Multiverse." Then it dawns on her, and she turns toward John just as they come to the river. Her eyes are traveling between him and the scene set before her in absolute wonder — abject bewilderment mixed with discovery. "We're… in another universe?"

Now she's taking the world in anew, and she steps forward almost to the point where her hand might fall from his if he lets her go. She stares out into the distance at the clouds and horizon and strange buildings. She looks down along their pathway, catching the sight of the mass of flora tangle. She's drawn in, almost hypnotized by it. He told her not to touch, and there she goes, reaching to touch…

"Maybe." The exact mechanics of it aren't something John understands either. "There are parallel worlds to ours — so many, Blue — and this isn't… quite /that/. Maybe it's a chunk of something built out of or adjacent to our own, but there's a dozen old Ways like this. They go different places, most a human isn't really cut out for, but — " He -yanks- Babs back from the seemingly thick, impassable brambles forcefully, and with a certain degree of kneejerk panic.

"/Especially/ not those! Jesus, this isn't the vacation luv, this is the corner we cut because you don't rate a jet and I'm too cheap to charter." It's not entirely fair, or sincere — John could have easily arranged a flight. But it would have eaten up so much time. The insinuation that Batman is kind of cheap and a dick stands, though. "Easier to get lost in /that/ than it fucking looks." Constantine explains, and warns, still holding Barbara -close- to him, his eyes on her.

"You'll lose lifetimes in days or weeks, and you'll get back out, maybe— but not as anything that remembers what you are now." Not who. What. It's like the magician said: this isn't a road trip. He's cutting a corner around a very dangerous precipice— perhaps because John is reckless, perhaps because Babs needs to understand this more clearly. Probably both.

The path the warlock picks instead is careful, leading her instead down towards the water, towards the bridge that seems so impossibly distant. He holds up his free hand and a triangle filled with latticed spellwork blooms to light on his palm, mirrored on the Hellblazer's forehead. For a moment as he exhales, he breathes mist. The brambles before them spiral outwards and entwine overhead, a canopied walkway opening up. It's not at all ominous after what he just told her.

The sharp tug incites a stumble, and then she's twisting back toward him to meet his eyes, to feel him close up around her in a protective embrace. Her breath is sharp suddenly, heart in her ears as her hindbrain warns against ever doing that again. To make John react that way is something to note, to be mindful of.

"I-I'm sorry," she honestly stammers. Her curiosity will be her undoing, but John is doing a really good job curbing it. She glances back to the brambles as he speaks, and she frowns deeper with each passing syllable until she's disconcerted. She lifts her eyes to his after another note, particularly the what instead of the who. "OK. No more touching." She looks back over her shoulder at the brambles, and the strange world she's in.

When John casts that spell, she can almost feel the shift of energy — her sensitive aura catching the change around her as he alters the world through his will. She lifts her eyes to watch the brambles change and spiral, and then she's chewing slightly at her inner cheek. Then she looks back to John. "How did you learn this? Where did you learn this?"

"Right." John seems satisfied with her response, and assertion of actually doing what she ought to for a change!! "You gotta /wait/ for that." He teases gently, leading a path through the rustle of parting briars. The branches tremble here and there, as if threatening to snap back, but none actually do until well after the couple pass, descending once more into near-darkness as the bramble-hewn corridor alternately seems to wind in massive, cavernous descent and claustrophobic, almost too narrow constraint. How long -have- they been walking? "Reading too many books, fucking too much up, listening to crusty old wizards for better or worse." It's a succinct summary, broad in truth as it is shallow in detail.

"Badgering it out of others, sometimes a planar being or six." That is to say, the strategy Barbara employs with /him/. "There's lore going back a long, long ways if you know where to look, who or fuckin' what to ask." Constantine further explains. "Way before we started harnessing energy with reactor and warhead and microconductor and actually trying to understand how anything -really- works." The dogma and myth of magic has never been his favorite part; even where it proves all too true.

Eventually, the twisting descent into the tangle of thorns leads them to a clearing beside a massive stone pillar, disappearing into the sky above. A small firepit is surrounded by flowers and mushrooms despite the winter chill that had been present when they arrived, and here it is mild, almost warm— perhaps slightly uncomfortable when bundled for the New York December. John disengages from Barbara— and gives her such a look— and fishes for the item on top of his duffel: a bigass fish, wrapped in paper from the local market.

The gentle teasing relaxes her, brings a small smile to her lips. As they continue though, she remains cautious and close to John. Particularly as the corridor they pass through tightens and then expands, and trembles. Her other hand grips at his arm as her fingers close tighter around his hand, steps huggingly close to his as they walk. He distracts her with story, which is good. Barbara likes stories.

"Self-taught?" She's certain she caught onto that sooner, but the actual history into John Constantine is welcomed. "Is that a common path for a Magician, or is there a magical school for some of this?" Beat pause. "You know… like Hogwarts." Stop laughing, she's making inferences, using her schema, being a nerd. Love her for it, don't hate her for it. Then she blinks, looking confused. "Planar being…?"

The question hangs there, half-spoken, as they emerge from bramble into the clearing. She blinks as she stands just within the grass, taking in the flowers and the mushrooms and the pit, and then the sky. She always looks at the sky. Trying to map herself, find a familiar landmark. She feels a bit of warmth settle around her, and she begins to loosen her jacket, stalling once under the look from John. Then she smiles, a bit awkwardly. "No touching." She holds up both hands defensively, then resumes stripping out of her jacket to reveal the henley-style shirt beneath. She blinks at the fish, brows arched. "… wait, we're camping… here?"

"Nothing quite as magical as goddamn Hogwarts that I know of, luv." It gives John a chuckle— he might even be vaguely sympathetic. It's a better world of sorcery than -his-, that's for fucking certain. "Self-teaching has some major goddamn risks, so does figuring out a teacher you can trust, though." No good answers: it's a theme. "Like I said there's adjacent worlds layered on ours, Blue. What you might wanna call heavens, hells, the ethereal, whatever." Has he touched on the sheer potential variety yet? As he speaks, the warlock unwraps the fish and places it out near the back of the glade, on the ground. There's a low, clicking whine from somewhere amidst the brambles.

"This spot is taken." John asides to Babs with a wry grin. "Doesn't know you though, and being shy is smart in a place like this one." There's no traditional rustling and crash of bushes that Barbara might expect— more a -sense- of motion somewhere around them, brief and sudden and then still. A long, prehensile tongue darts from a vaguely humanoid maw that pokes through the borders, retrieving and chomping the entire fish in one bite, and vanishing just as quickly.

"Don't get any ideas luv, it seems like god's gift until you realize the damn thing is sticky because of all the little spines." The ridiculously long tongue, obviously. It's probably best not to ask why John knows this. He steps back in against Barbara's side and slips an arm around her waist, nudging their path towards the massive wall of stone, instead.

Barbara is a sponge. She takes each detail, organizes, and files it. Finding a teacher is important, and why would she need a teacher? Sigh. Because she's Barbara Gordon. She gets into trouble each time her curiosity gets peaked. Hopefully John has figured this out. She looks around again, and the limitations and yet infinite possibilities only just beginning to sink in.

The aside about that this spot is claimed had her brows arching high, and then she watches him while folding her jacket up in her arms. It's a prohibitory gesture—to keep her from touching something. She watches him as he presents the fish, and then the suddenly sound and abrupt arrival of a long tongue has her skipping backwards a sudden step. A wordless gasp is barely held back in her throat until she swallows it down and blinks. "… wow."

Then something John says has her brows arching high above her eyes in startled surprise again. "John — you did not." Then she's shaking her head, and holding up a stalling hand. "Nope. Nope. I don't want to know." Then he's guiding her with the arm around her waist and she just takes one last glance in some hope to see a clearer imagine of the humanoid being still in the brambles.

"What?" John has no shame. Or no idea -what- Babs could be talking about. It's probably the former. Trying to manage Barbara in his world is definitely a balance of curving and satiating curiosity. She needs enough to stay busy, intrigued along lines that, you know— won't kill her or consumer her soul. Constantine realized -that- much almost immediately. Or at least, since the morning Barbara answered his insulting booty call and got so very much more for her indulgence. Another one of those distinctly askew affectionate gestures, really.

Babs might get a glimpse of a pair of wide, yellow-and-black eyes surveying them curiously as they pass. "Keep ahold of me." John instructs. There's no need to couch that one as warning or suggestion— the redhead is glad to listen there, in his experience. He also does his part in the equation, grounding his hand on Barbara's far side, snuggling her tight to his own as fingers splay across her skin.

"Close your eyes… and reach out for the stone." He moves in tandem with her, to press a palm to the rough-hewn, otherworldly pillar, his own eyes shut— once he makes sure Babs does that part. The world has that sinking feeling of fading into or out of a dream, and when one's eyes open anew, it's amidst lush, tropical surroundings, touching a cliff-face beside a crashing waterfall coming from several dozen feet above the lovers. It also seems to be 'Earth' again.

What? John asks, and Barbara just looks at him with an arched expression that still does not ask anything more than that. Then she is quietly following, eye contact made just briefly with the yellow-eyed thing camping behind them in the glen. She's then being drawn in, the warm hand of John gracing her warmer side. She looks back toward him at the touch, and her smile softens into something deeply affectionate, and warm. "I plan to," she says softly, not at all responding to the actual intention of his words.

Then she breathes out a slow exhale and regards the stone pillar. Her eyes travel up it, taking in each facet of interest, and then she nods slowly. "Alright." She reaches out her hand, fingers curled slightly toward the heel of her palm. She hesitates, just a moment, rational brain having to battle back the irrational. Touching something is not magic. Then she unfurls her fingers, closes her eyes, and plants her hand on the stone.

Her breath catches, and all she wants to do is to open her eyes as her world melts away. She instinctively grabs hold of John, clutching at the edge of his trench coat with the hand not on the stone. Then she feels the world come back, and she opens her eyes, and they are standing in a breathtaking place that has her awe expression anewed. She looks around, taking in the details of the tropical landscape, the sound of the water, and then finally John. Her words are soft, breathless, and complete with a smile. "This is a deep move, John Constantine."

There's a moment's meaningful side-glance at Barbara's reappropriation of the already suggestive instruction, appreciative and distracted— but John keeps his focus on what needs to be done. For another moment. He holds to her just as tightly, anchoring her through the unexpected, the impossible, with the poise of one for whom it has become just another rote. Not that Constantine is left unable to appreciate the wonder around him; just a bit more dubious in doing so. He lifts his hand from the rock to brush along the redhead's bangs, watching her face as she soaks in the surroundings, and loosening his grasp as she twists to turn about, to take it all in.

John steps in behind her and arms curving around her. "This is a deep thing, Blue." He murmurs back in similar tones. "I told you I had it fuckin' covered."

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