Deck the Halls
Roleplaying Log: Deck the Halls
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Babs and Dinah are getting the house festive, invoke John "The Grinch" Constantine, and are visited by Dick Grayson

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: December 01, 2018
IC Location: Lance House, Gotham
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 02 Dec 2018 03:11
Rating & Warnings: PG-13 For Language
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: None
Associated Plots

The first of December has arrived, and with it a distinct feeling of Christmas cheer. In the Lance house, the fierce Batgirl and Black Canary are taking as respite from their night job to see to unloading the boxes from the attic and setting to work in both the house and florist shop. It's tradition, and something that cannot be missed.

It comes to no surprise to practically anyone that Barbara Gordon actually looks forward to this time of year. It was the one thing she kept doing after her mother disappeared, and soon became something she snared her other family into. Dinah has always been a co-conspirator.

A real evergreen tree stands naked in the living room, recently situated in its stand. Its warm, earthy smell diffuses throughout the room, and is accompanied by the warm, spiced smell of those cinnamon pinecones that are solid by the bagful at the Christmas tree stands. Barbara — in soft denim and an enormous wintry-blue sweater complete with thick, comfy snowflake socks — is unloading the lights from a red and green box — and yes, they have been carefully winded up on a large spool because these two are serious about this stuff.

Christmas music is already being played on the bluetooth speaker, and the girls are about half way through their second half-gallon cartons of egg nog in. By the warm flush on Barbara's cheeks, Dinah was in charge of hitting it with the brandy.

"Dinah? Have you found them yet?"

* * *

"Yeah!" Dinah shouts down the stairs. Feet thump against the hardwood as she rattles to the first floor, banking off the wall. From the dent in the hardwood, she's been doing that precise move probably since she was old enough to walk. Triumphantly she hoists the box over her head, sauntering over towards Barbara with a victory shimmy. She's in leggings and a grotesquely cheery red holiday sweater that's at least ten sizes too big, fairly swimming in the soft wool.

Dinah kneels on the floor in front of the tree and peers into the box. Fingers sweep loose blonde hair behind an ear before she digs into it and starts extracting rolled bundles of wool in green and red and white. "Okay, there's miiiine," she says, setting aside her Christmas stocking. "Yours, there's Dick's…" She wriggles socked toes happily, and soon has a number of stockings set out.

"On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to meee…" Dinah sings along with the classic Carol and starts putting the stockings up over the old fireplace, from hooks dug deep into well-seasoned brick and wood. "Hey, y'know— we should see if that Rad Sparrow has family in the area," Dinah tells Barbara, glancing over her shoulder. "And I'm pretty sure Jessica isn't exactly the holiday type. Wanna run over to New York and spread some Christmas cheer next week?"

* * *

John Constantine has awakened in Hell. It's the only answer. There's thumping, there's skittering, there's laughter, there's— there's goddamn Christmas music. What the hell happened?! The warlock stays sequestered— some would say /hiding/— in Barbara's upstairs room. Even that doesn't keep out the alleged holiday cheer. Spirits, spirits everwhere— which means John needs liquor.

What time is it? The magician doesn't care. He runs a hand through his blonde coif, which tousles it more than straightens it, and finishes righting an old tie on a nondescript suit shirt and slacks. It's still not really tied straight. That juncture sees the Hellblazer creeping with uncharacteristic caution down the stairs, eyes darting back and forth. Mostly at Christmas decorations.

John has the wide-eyed and halfway between horri and terrified look of a man terrified of dolls confronted by an old lady's cabinet of the really, really creepy ones. Swallowing heavily, Constantine does the one thing he can do: he beelines for the biggest goddamn glass he can find, and the brandied eggnog.

* * *

Dick had been making noises about a social call to the newly-minted Lance-Gordon household for a week or so, threatening to show up unannounced with just a bottle of wine and a prayer that there wasn't currently anyone being treated for gunshot wounds on the dining room table. However, in actuality, he's in the vague vicinity of being a polite and well-mannered human person (who knows how that happened, let's not give Bruce any credit), and so he actually called ahead once or twice trying to find a night to stop by. But that's kind of the thing about workaholic vigilantes. In general, they're pretty shit about keeping schedules that are helpful for anything. So it had been put off and put off until…

Well, there's no stopping Dick from showing up to the annual pre-Christmas decorate-fest.

Thus plans morphed and converged, and as the sacred date arrives, so does the eldest of the bat-sibs. He stuck with the alcohol idea (because, well, they're adults) but given the occasion, has swapped wine for another egg-nog additive, and comes bearing gifts as well. Or at least a shopping bag full of stuff. After a knock or two, and with music blaring to the point he can hear it from out, he just lets himself in. Bat-magic.
5r"Knock, knock," Dick announces himself as he makes his way into the living room and view of the tree and Dinah first, rapping his knuckles on an open doorframe. "Hey Dinah. I come bearing gifts. And booze." Can't let them run out. He is *not* wearing a festive Christmas sweater, since he's come from work and those NYPD guys would roast him mercilessly. But he does have a festive tie.

* * *

"Thank God, I was starting to get worried." Barbara turns on her butt on the floor, pivoting toward Dinah as she peeks into the box that has been recovered from upstairs. She takes her stocking once Dinah unloads it, and she unrolls it to reveal the knitted wonder that has Barbara's name stitched at the top. Then she rolls up onto her knees, reaching into the bottom of the box to retrieve the heavy, flat weights with hooks on one side that they use to secure the stockings along the mantle.

Mentions of Sparrow and Jessica has her brightening, dimples and all. "Yeah! We should…" Then she hesitates, dropping back onto her heels thoughtfully as her smile wanes into something a bit more serious. "I should check in on Frank, too." She tucks a bit of slipped red hair behind her ear. "This will be his first Christmas without…" Her throat tightens, shoulders lift and fall. "I'll make sure Luke and Curtis are looking out for him." When I can't…

She's in this sobered place when John tries to carefully sneak his way down the stairs and beeline toward where the girls are keeping the eggnog. It pulls her out of that little 'always worrying about Frank Castle' hole that she started to sink into. She puts her finger to her lips, smiling broadly behind it. Then she reaches for a tiny pillow — about the size of a postcard, filled with spice-laced cotton so it smells like gingerbread cookies, and cross-stitched with falling snowflakes and red script that reads 'Believe' — and chucks it at John's head once he's picked up a glass and the carton of mostly-brandy-eggnog. Batgirl's got mad aim, boozed up or not. "I see you, Ebenezer." Misanthrope, indeed.

Then she hears Dick come in, and she looks up to smile brightly from her spot still on the floor. She uses Dinah as a brace to get herself up off the floor, because she still has a bit of wobble legs. "Jerk, I thought you would have to work."

* * *

Dinah gets on her feet and be-bops along behind Barbara when the redhead rises to greet Dick, dancing with a shimmying step that's largely Christmas spirit and only not quite mostly seasonal brandy. She's singing pitch-perfect along with Mariah Carey and moves past Barbara, head bobbing back and forth. She wraps her arms around Dick's neck and gives him a theatrical *smooch* to the cheek, leaving a little pink stain under his cheekbone.

And then she slips a fur-lined red stocking cap onto his head, tugging it towards his brow with a mischevious grin. She backs away, still dancing, and finger-guns at the detective. "~All I want for Christmaaaas, is y-ouuu,~" she sings, with an over-the-top flirtation.

"Hey, one side, Magic Man," Dinah tells Constantine, pushing near the bigass plastic bowl sitting on ice. She grabs herself a cup of eggnog as well, then frowns and pours a little (lot) more brandy into the mix, before stirring it thoroughly.

"Mmm. That's better," she says, after a second sip. "I don't know about you, but I prefer my brandy with a little eggnog in it," she tells Constantine, eyebrows bobbing at him.

Okay, Dinah's definitely buzzed too.

* * *

Yessss. The eggnogged brandy smells /strong/. John takes a minute to just gulp from his glass, which leaves him utterly vulnerable to tiny, gingerbread-scented attack. The pillow rebounds off the magician's thick skull with rather unusual impact— then again, he already looked half-dazed. Constantine stoops to pick up the pillow and smirk lopsidedly towards Barbara.

As Dinah drunkenly decides to make it -stronger-, John refills his glass and lifts it towards the blonde, "Cheers to that." There's a hearty CLINK, if the Canary wants it. It's just a few shades more reserved, awkward than this sort of situation would usually see from John. Maybe he's just a Scrooge, indeed. "Booze." John echoes Nightwing— and Dinah's— sentiments in greeting Dick, first off. "Grand. Excellent. Perfect, mate." He has no idea who Grayson is, but John's suddenly glad to see him.

Sniffing the pillow (drag that one out of context) thoughtfully, the warlock shifts his perspective adjacent to Barbara and leeeans his way in to whisper something at absolute minimal volume into the redhead's ear. It's followed up by a second lift of the eggnog glass, and a totally formal, not-still-smirking, "John Constantine, don't think we've had the pleasure."

* * *

"I went in, but fortunately there weren't any major crises," Dick explains, cracking a smile when he gets a bit further in and Babs spots him. "Maybe all the drug lords and crime bosses are decorating their trees, too? Gave me a chance to a little shopping, anyway." He raises the bag in his hand, but sets it on a nearby table as he sees the ladies on intercept. Contents, fragile, and he expects hugs incoming. Although even then he's not fully prepared for the full impact of Dinah's over-the-top greeting, complete with hat.

The whole thing leaves him grinning, as it well should. "Hello to you too."

Once done with drunkbird #1, he moves over to give Barbara a squeeze, and then finally turns around to step over to Constantine, extending him the bottle in one hand, while the other is offered for a shake. Call it fair exchange. "Richard Grayson, but everyone calls me Dick." A beat, and a flash of a smile. "Even the folks who like me. Happy holidays."

Having worked through the greetings, he turns back to where he dropped off his supplies, going to pull open the bag and fish something out. "Most of this is extra stocking stuffers," which may mean that the bottom of the bag is filled with spare batarangs and other dangerous weapons, "but I picked this up too." A little unwrapped white box is offered toward the decorating committee, with the square shape and context offering good odds on what might be inside. "Found a place selling some nice hand-painted ornaments, though somehow they didn't have any bats." Shock.

On opening and inspection, the glass ball is painted with christmas doves instead. Birds are close!

* * *

"Dinah!" Barbara laughs her friend's name at the outrageous flirtations toward Dick, and then she takes her own turn to greet him. She kisses him on his other cheek, but the woman lacks the Holiday red lipstick and just leaves warmth and the smell of spices and brandy instead. Then she hands him a tissue that she must have just slight-of-handed on her way to him, and she points casually to the lipstick on his cheek. "I think… we hit the nog a bit harder than expected." Her words are just slightly slurred. Slightly. "Come on, before she starts hanging mistletoe." She adjusts the hat on Dick's head one last time, and then pivots to draw him further into the room.

She leaves Dick's side to cross to John, meeting him just as he leans in to whisper. Her eyes widen for a moment, and then she's laughing. Her cheeks are already warm and pink with booze, and they just blush a bit more and she's suppressing more laughter. "No." She tells him not at all firmly and then takes his glass from him so she can have a drink. She's lost hers (it's by the Christmas tree).

Then she gestures between John and Dick as John starts the introductions. Then she's stepping forward to take the box from Dick. She scoots over to Dinah so the two can open it together, and Barbara brightens at the sight of it. "Well, we're both birds, so that works." She winks to Dick before she takes the bag and sets it aside. She glances between Dinah and Dick briefly, and then to John.

"Just so we're all on the same page… John's been read-in." Because the bat comment from Dick was going to be a confusing comment otherwise. She clarifies with a slight shrug. "He knows about my extracurriculars." And Dinah's, but there's still some protectiveness there. John knows that Dinah is a vigilante, but there's been no other name drops besides that. She leaves it up to Dick to decide what to do with that information.

* * *

Dinah crowds Barbara to peer into the box, and emits a soft sound of pleased surprise and claps her hands together. "Oh, wow! Hey, thanks Dick! I'ma hang this right now!" With an alarming speed she lurches towards the tree (which is seriously like ten feet tall, scraping the ceiling of her Victorian home). She's up the ladder in a flash and balances effortlessly from it, leaning over to hang the ornament in a prominent position on a bare branch.

"It's perfect," she says with a sigh and clasped hands. She beams at Dick, turning on the ball of her foot to sit on the top flat of the ladder despite the strict warnings NOT to do that.

"Speaking of, I've got some stuff for you to, uh, give out to the extended family," Dinah tells Grayson. Not at all cryptic. "My folks are coming down for Christmas, so you're all welcome to do holiday stuff here," she offers.

* * *

"I'll bet they do." No doubt Dick's heard it a million million times from this asshole and that. Mocking innuendo utilizing his childhood nickname, condescending with useless machismo and misplaced, lowbrow bravado. John Constantine both fulfills those expectations and subverts them; there's no malice in the flippant rejoinder. Only a tiny bit of condescension. No, John's tone is more like Dinah's was: decidedly flirty. He loses the eggnog, but gains a bottle, and a handshake. The magician's is firm but lazy— he'd rather get to drinking.

What happens when you give Constantine a bottle: he opens it. He eyeballs it. He sniffs it if it's one of those rare liquors worth sniffing. Then he drinks, right from the bottle, because appearances and propreity are king. Especially when he's trying so very hard not to look stressed about walking out into Christmastime, with some success. Only after that point does he saunter back towards Babs and seek to make a trade for his brandynog, wry half a grin a seeming fixture on his face just now.

* * *

Taking the tissue, Dick does a brief touch-up on his smudged cheek somewhere amidst all the madness. She also brings things back to a fairly relevant point, with the bit of vigilante code clarified. "Ah, great. That might make us seem just a little less crazy." … Or more? He doesn't follow this up with any kind of immediate codename dump or anything, but he does go on to explain, just so he and John are on the same page: "Babs and I have worked together, off and on, about as long as we've been doing… that kind of work. So welcome to the crazy, I guess."

As for the bottle, John now has an exciting option between brandynog and bourbonog, another classic mix. Or well, he can just drink it. It does prove sniff worthy, because Waynes don't tend to do things on the cheap, but it seems no one's going to make a fuss if he just drinks from the bottle. Drinks are for drinking, right?

Watching Dinah scramble up the ladder doesn't provoke much in the way of alarm. Mostly. He doesn't doubt she can hold her liquor, or, well, hold her balance while half holding her liquor. And since they've meandered into quasi shop-talk… "Oh?" There's a reflexive glance over to Barbara, just in case she might translate or provide clarity on the cryptic hint. "I'll definitely come by," he will offer, of their festivities. "I don't know what anyone else is planning, if Tim and his… friends are going to be doing anything. I'm sure Bruce will have some rounds to do, events and things, so I might get dragged along with some of that."

* * *

The flirt from John arches her brows a bit, and then she's looking toward her ex-boyfriend with a half-tip of her head. She shrugs. Yeah, alright. She gets it. Then she is taking another drink from John's nog glass just as he saunters her way to make his trade. She narrows her eyes at him as she sets her lips against the edge of the glass. Then she rolls her eyes through what must be some silent communication between the two, and she holds out the glass while waiting to be given the other bottle.

"Fiend."

Then she glances toward Dick, turning on her socks toward him with a wry smile tugging at her lips. She clarifies to John, head tilted. "Dick was adopted by Bruce Wayne. It's a thing." Then she looks back to Dinah. "With your parents coming, I bet I can get Dad to agree to show up and do a Gordon-Lance family Christmas. The two can bitch about the good ol' days in Law Enforcement, and fawn over Mr. Detective over there." She chin-nods to Dick with a wry smile.

Before she steps away from John, he's given his own cheek-kiss. Then she takes the bourbon bottle and heads to the little bar they have going so she can get a new glass, still having forgotten her old one is next to the box of ornaments.

She takes a breath as she pours the booze and nog together, and then glances back toward Dick and Dinah. "Didn't tell you both, but… ran into that Ghost of Gotham that's been going revenge killing. There's lots there, but…" This is said to Dinah now. "She talked to Gus's ghost. We got a lead on the Whispers."

* * *

"BOOOOO." Dinah cups her hands to her mouth. "Party foul, shop talk!"

She drops off the ladder so fast it looks like she's fallen, smoothly rolling into a step and retrieving Barbara's glass en route. The petite woman strides right between John and Dick as the two men circle and joust like two bulls unexpectedly in the same field. She pointedly ignores (or is drunkenly ignorant) of any tension floating in the air between the men.

Just as Barbara pours herself a new glass, Dinah smoothly exchanges one for the other and takes the fresh cup of brandynog for a healthy swig or three.

"I'd be surprised if daddy and the Comish haven't planned something already," Dinah tells Barbara. "As long as they don't go ice fishing again." She shudders.

The blonde drops smoothly into a chair and crosses her legs, one sock bobbing in the air in time with the music. "So… she's an *actual* ghost?" Dinah inquires, looking up at Babs. "Or one of those, uh, whatcha call it, norco… Necrodancers?"

* * *

"Oh, it's definitely more crazy." John admits it while withholding judgement, however. "I'll just have to try to keep up." Barbara, at least, has seen enough of his life to get the sarcastic joke. It amuses John, though, eyes sparkling as he turns to the quiet struggle he doesn't really want to win. This bourbon is /good/.

He hits it again during negotiations, and then his exceedingly brandied nog once it's returned to him, a casual hip-bump sending the redhead off as he equally nonchalantly wanders towards the tree. John stands before the towering fir for a long moment, eyeballing it up and down with an inscrutable tension etched on his face, and then stoops to snatch up Babs' previous nog glass.

Which he also drinks from, and probably returns far too late to save its replacement; woe unto all. "A ghost-whispering revenge killer?" Is John hearing that right? Contrary to the 'what the hell' perspective most might strike, the Hellblazer sounds intrigued. "Definitely Necrodancers." the magician drily backs Dinah's assessment with just -so much- credulity. The family history isn't directly engaged, but it's definitely filed away. The Family isn't the only set of detectives on the beat.

* * *

Barbara rolls her eyes dramatically at Dinah's call for party foul, and then she shakes her head. "Girl, I don't know how not to talk shop. I need a vacation." She hooks a hand around her shoulder, and goes through the motions with Dinah over the cups and booze, and then she's taking modest swallows from her own cup. "Somewhere. Anywhere." There's a little bit of threadbareness to her words; exhaustion and weariness. She'd take getting lost in Siberia at this point. She spots John find her misplaced nog, and when he drinks from it, she just shakes her head. She's not at all surprised, but also amused.

"Necromancer," Barbara corrects while darting a look to John. Then she sags into a chair near the tree, and she curls herself in so her back is pressed against one arm and legs draped across the other. She curls her arm behind her head. Dick's casual commentary of Jim Gordon's SUDDEN affection for Dick Grayson now that a) he's not dating Barbara and b) is now a respectable detective has Barbara laughing warmly, huskily. "Yeah, well… use it to your advantage. Even New York likes Dad."

The return to shop talk draws out a slow exhale. "I think she's a… zombie, actually. I don't know. We didn't unpack it much. She was tracking the same sex-trafficker I was in Red Hook, and we helped each other out. She mentioned talking to a ghost, and I… figured she could talk to Gus." She glances toward Dinah. "There's something going down in Atlantic City. Isn't just the Whispers."

Definitely rules, and yet… Barbara Gordon extensively helped Frank Castle on his revenge. But no one knows that… except Dinah… except Bruce. It settles into her shoulders with an obvious weight, and then she nods soberly. "I don't think so. I invited her along, we can see what she does." Then she rubs at her neck, eyes closing a bit. "But, if we go to Atlantic City, we need to figure out how to handle that Darkness crap they were throwing at us."

Then she glances toward John, and a realization settles in. They haven't talked about this. She arches her brows slightly. "John, do you know how to battle impenetrable darkness?" By her tone… she means literally. "Because these guys were strong enough without absolutely nulling our senses."

* * *

Dinah moves to the heavy dining table. The house is large for Gotham, but not a mansion, and doesn't warrant formal dining. She puts her palms behind her and eases her hips up onto the table. Legs sway back and forth, the Christmas music still softly humming from the speaker in the corner of the room.

"Atlantic City? Some vacation," she tells Babs, sourly. "Take me somewhere nice for once, willya?"

She leans back on one palm, elbow straight. Her other hand collects her eggnog and drains it in a swallow. As if surprised, Dinah eyes her glass with a critical squint, and then holds it out in Dick's direction.

"Myeh!" she complains. The glass wiggles back and forth, hopefully, and she all but flutters her lashes at him.

* * *

It's true. Shop is life. Sometimes, work consumes it all. It's part and parcel to the field. John gets that better than most, even if he's also more likely to ignore the responsibility via heavy drinking than most of the others. "You don't /know/." the warlock protests Barbara's correction with no heart at all.

There are definitely necromantic rituals involving necrodancing, after all. Don't ask him to prove it. "Something someone hauled back up as a Revenant, if she's sentient and bent on revenge." Is Constantine's guess. "Lots of ways to do that— soulbinding, a particularly strong will in life, goetic or necromantic magics." He shrugs a shoulder.

The brief explanation is offered mostly to Babs, but it's on the table nonetheless. "One of the rare angles where something comes back and the best bet isn't necessarily to get it the fuck back to Hell." Metaphorical Hell. Or Hells. "Lot of times, their work is righteous and understandable." If a bit messy. Doesn't seem to bother the magician. "At least until they go wrathful and insane." Over a long enough timeline, everybody gets wrathful and insane.

There's a second little shrug, this time with one shoulder, and John lifts his mug for a hearty gulp. "When you say 'impenetrable' I'm assuming you mean 'magical' and 'as far as human eyes and gizmos go'." Constantine theorycrafts simply. "Not 'solid as fuck' or 'literally a lovecraftian Old One' darkness. Short answer is 'probably', luv."

* * *

"Oh, I hate to admit it," since his new career was Dick's escape from living in Bruce's shadow, "but I'm pretty sure your dad's already given me a bit of a boost, to make detective this fast. Has the feeling of a friendly word between commisioners." He smiles. "It means a lot, actually."

Also Dick has bigger things to worry about than nepotism, which is kind of a futile exercise when you're already a billionaire's adoptee. And this list of larger concerns might, for instance, include questions like: is a zombie worse or better than a necromancer?

That one's a puzzler, although by his expression, neither is one-hundred percent a thrilling choice. Then again, she wouldn't be the first dead person they know. So Dick gives it all a chance. "Well, alright. If she seemed helpful, and respectful of the uh," he makes a vague gesture, "general sanctity of the non-deceased and whatnot, it sounds like something to work with." They don't always get to be choosy.

Boozenog in hand, Dick remains posted by the sideboard with it for now, mulling things over. It turns out that the details of a case are a reliable distraction from some of the mild dimscomforts of adult social discourse. Also, John says some words that take an earlier suspicion and, well, no detective-ing required. Magic talk.

"The wrathful bit is my concern," Dick admits, as his earlier moral worryings definitely suggested. "About our zombie friend, that is. Also, how the Ukranian mob is bringing magical darkness to the table." He's evidently not 100% up to date on Barbara's most recent gang warfare.

* * *

"He likes you." Beat. "Now."

Then Barbara takes another swallow from her cup before she notices that Dinah is wagging her cup to be refilled. She smiles ruefully before she rolls out of her seat in a rather awkward stumble. She fetches Dinah's cup, and then heads to get a refill for her BFF. This puts her beside John, who she leans her hip into, cheek pressing to his upper arm briefly.

While she does, she hears out John about the whole magic. She realizes he's providing her tutelage, and the others are just present for it. She shakes her head. "It was like walking through a wall of shadow, and then we were just… muffled. Even Sparrow couldn't sense her way out of it. We put a lead-line out so we could get back, but they could see… slotted a knife between my armor without trouble, took a baseball bat to Jess… we couldn't see them or sense them." She frowns. "We need like… light grenades."

* * *

"My hero~," Dinah sings, as Barbara returns to her with a cuppa booze in hand. Legally speaking, at this point, it probably needs a BAC content indicator. Maybe a Surgeon General's warning for alcohol content. She takes the glass (carefully) in both hands and sips from it.

"~Christmas, the snow's coming down // I'm watching it fall,~" Dinah sings at Barbara, harmonizing perfectly as Michael Buble comes on the playback station.

She wraps an arm around Barbara's shoulders and rests her cheekbone on Babs' head, and it's totally because she's not three sheets to the wind. "Babs got staaabed," she tattles. "But only a little," she hastens to add. Because the boys will, predictably, freak out otherwise. Probably.

"It was so weird. I couldn't sing, either," Dinah confirms. "Like… the only thing anyone could do was feel each other. No sound, no sight. I had to start getting pretty loud to get us outta there," she confirms. "I can fight in the dark just fine, but it's surreal being blind *and* deaf."

* * *

"Wise, mate." John agrees with Nightwing— ravenous and wrathful is a problem. Organized crime with ties to dark magic or the infernal? Also a problem. "More sorcery than most expect in some of those old world crews." Constantine observes matter-of-factly. It's not his area of expertise, but it certainly becomes a problem in his life from time to time, too.

The warlock takes in the further description from drunken Dinah thoughtfully, nodding along at several points before he looks back to Barbara, "Can you take me where it happened, luv?" It's not hard to guess why: knowing exactly what kind of shit they're in is helpful to shoveling it. "Guessing those normal flash-bomb things didn't do the trick." He clearly has several ideas how to remedy the situation, already, though.

John's response to Batgirl's injury, though, is not overt concern or reproach, but what else: sarcasm. "Something about fist-fighting murderers in a skin-tight suit within a goddamn aura of malevolent darkness." 'These things happen.' 'It comes with the territory.' 'She's drunk don't make her mad ahhhhh!' — Take your pick. The magician alternates his 'nog and Barbara's abandoned half a 'nog. Waste not, want not; there's good booze in there.

* * *

Dick doesn't actually do any freaking out about the tattled stabbing, if only because at this point it would… be pretty pointless and accomplish nothing more than annoying Barbara. She's obviously recovered, and the overprotective big brother route is one he's gone down before, never to any kind of produtive result. So! Instead, it's just: "Glad you're OK."

Also Dinah gets a look, because he's on to her, Ms. Boozy Shit-stirrer, trying to get… Barbara in trouble? Nah, that was aimed straight at the boys.

However, Dinah has some very pertinent points about whatever they're up against, and her comment on the total sensory deprivation looks like it lands. Obviously, you don't train a clan of bat-fetish quasi ninjas who operate mostly at night and not teach them a bit about blind-fighting. But she's dead on, as far as limitations go. "I don't like the sound of any of that," he admits. "And you've tried tech? None of it worked? It blocks past the visual spectrum? No infrared or anything else?"

Maybe those are obvious solutions, but being thorough is something he won't sacrifice, purely to not sound like he's lecturing.

Which means its all back to John, and the field-trip he's planning. "I wouldn't mind taking a look at this either. There's been a lot of chatter on both sides of the river, gangs pushing new territory. I'd like to assume this is just some fluke bit of," and a gesture at the resident magician, "old world charm, but we can't be sure. We could be looking at some more powerful force backing them, even."
Bat-birds dig conspiracies.

* * *

The embrace from Dinah is met with her own, and her arm slides around her shoulders as their heads press together in a muddle of red and blond. She smiles warmly for her friend, and then kisses her cheek fondly. "You're so drunk."

The tattling does cause her eyes to roll again, and she smirks toward both John and Dick. Dick is all casual, so is John — but John's sarcasm is met with a soft snort. "Well, at this point, my suit is pretty much down for the count. I gotta take it in, or maybe just brainstorm a replacement."

Then she curls up closer against Dinah, resting her head into her shoulder. She glances toward John at his askance, and she nods. "Yeah, John. I can do that."

Once more, Dick gathers her attention, and she starts to shake her head as she straightens up from Dinah. "No. Nothing. It was unreal." Barbara's voice is airy under the influence. She cradles her cup against her cheek. "It wasn't just being in the dark, it was being in darkness. Like, blackness. I felt like I couldn't breathe right, or hear right. Didn't know a hit was coming until it was too late."

* * *

"This is turning into a whole /thing/, isn't it," Dinah says, with a theatrical sigh for everyone in range. But, glib as she is, Barbara's serious explanation gets several nods of agreement. "I don't know how else to describe it. Like a … heavy blanket," Dinah says, struggling.

Look, she's not a word person.

"Anyway. I'll fight anyone anytime, but I'm not going back into a situation where I'm deaf, blind, *and* outnumbered," she tells the boys. Remonstation makes her voice ring decisively. "But it definitely felt…" She purses her lips and looks to Babs.

"Wrong?" A nod. "Wrong," Dinah says, more firmly. "Definitely wasn't any tech I've ever heard of. And if it's magic, that's waaay outta my jurisdiction. I don't like magic. Makes my skin crawl." She shudders demonstratively.

* * *

Barbara's snort and retort draws a wry chuckle from John in turn, and he shakes his head twice. "Sounds about right." In terms of giving that particular squad this kind of trouble, at least. Constantine doesn't bother guessing what, specifically, it might be any further— but he seems pretty confident when he appends, "We'll work out what it is exactly you're fucking with, and at least a handful of ways to shit all over it."

The offering has the air of toast, right down to the lift of glass. John Constantine's holiday spirit, ladies and gentleman. The Brit drinks deeply, doing what he can to catch up to the girls, apparently. Though he may have started when he woke up, shhh.

"— so that Dinah can kick them all, at anytime!" Cheers! "May be a long, long list." The last is just a touch more somber than the devil-may-care dark humor to the rest of it. Dinah's right: it's going to be a Thing. One among several rumbling in the wings as they speak. Luckily, they don't know who they're fucking with, either.

* * *

Obviously Dick isn't really happy with any of this. Pick your reason. Magic weirdness, their precious gadgets failing, a Barbara stabbing that he's suppressing worry over? Its all bad. Heck, the bright spot is that they met a friendly zombie.

"I'm with Dinah," he will confirm, siding with her analysis regardless of how much she's had to drink. "Nothing about that scenario sounds good, and none of us," here he makes his worry all-inclusive! That way he's not picking on poor Babs! "Should be putting ourselves into a helpless situation. We've always relied on preparation, on fighting any fight on the best possible terms." Of course, he'll admit the frequent caveat: "Not that it always works out that way. Still, doing otherwise is asking for trouble."

This speech also has one major consequence: Dick turns to John. "It seems like we're all going to be relying on you, here." He'll admit it, this one is out of the usual bat-league.

And just like that, Dick's on board with John being on board, and he lifts his nog in an echo of the magician's toast. "Babs, you have any outstanding leads? I want to go after some of the 'how' and 'why' behind this. Even if we have a solution for this one problem, magic-armed gangsters sound like a huge threat just waiting to spill all over. If we're in the dark fighting them, we can approach from a different angle, one they can't just blot out with a dark blanket from beyond."

He actually sounds confident. Team stuff, right? It's not new, even if it's unofficial.

* * *

"We go in next time," and from Barbara's voice there is going to be a next time, "and we are going in with the right gear. Something is going on, Dinah… I want to figure out what it is. If the Ukrainians are working with another gang, this is big stuff."

When Dinah mentions not liking magic, a strange little blush suddenly colors the height of her cheeks. She doesn't make eye contact with John when she casually states, "It isn't all bad." Then she sets her cup aside, decisively done with the drinking bit as she still feels her mind swim at the edges and her limbs sway awkwardly.

John's reassurances that he will help, and the little odd toast that comes with it draws a thankful smile from her as she stands. She takes her cup again, forgetfully finishes it — she did decide she was done, really — and then heads to set the glass down on the surface of an old oak buffet near the kitchen so it can be washed up. She leans her hip into the low cabinet, and she starts to gather that mass of red hair over her shoulder. She looks like she's starting to separate out the hair to braid, but can't quite get her mind settled into order to do it. She just splits it into three parts, and then teases them back together with her fingers in an oddly comfortable repetition.

"Alright." The word is breathed. "I'll take John to the sewers, he can read the situation, see what he can come up with. Then us girls should head to Atlantic City…" Her eyes narrow on Dick. "I guess you can come, too… but you're just there as eye-candy." Now she's teasing him. But, let's be real, here…

She sobers back to Dick's actual request, and she smiles a bit ruefully. "Yeah, but you're not going to like it." Her voice is teasing, but just as a sugar-coat to the seriousness. "Gus the Ghost mentioned something about this Hell's Kitchen gang that's come up since the demon invasion. Hellraisers? Hellhaters? Something like that. But that means you need to go snooping around Daredevil's territory." And he hates that says her tone.

* * *

"Then you're all at least one step up from deaf and blind, getting pummeled by Ukrainians." John's not entirely comfortable with the idea of 'all' of them relying on him, as Nightwing suggests. It gets a smidge of self-deprecating flippancy. "Depends how shitfaced I am that day." Constantine polishes off his glass and, unlike Barbara, goes to refill it. From the bourbon batch, which he spikes up to Dinah-level from its current Babs-mix.

The magician takes in the further details and interplay quietly, partly as he works, partly as alert blues survey the others and dart from conversation point to conversation point. The Hellblazer offers no argument to support magic not being all shit— even if he agrees with Barbara, who gets a sly wink of appreciation— it's just safer for everyone -not- to apply the nuance. They step clear of the occult, everyone wins.

John leans in beside Babs on the cabinet, setting his fresh drink within easy reach, totally by happenstance and not temptation, and eyeballs the not-quite-braidwork as if appraising. "Anything I can do about making that rematch go different, I will." It's a quieter statement; barely even crotchety or dry. For all his apprehension adding more lives into the mix, there's obviously at least one he's looking out for. She's also the only one who's glimpsed enough of his world to understand exactly what kind of ask— and offer— even simple magic can be.

* * *

"I wouldn't have it any other way," is all the former Boy Wonder has to say about his eye-candy status. What else are painfully handsome acrobats for? John, however, gets a more earnest offer: "I'll keep out of your hair." There's no ego where it comes to this stuff, anyway. Let a specialist do what he does.

As Babs continues to deliver what is clearly the 'bad news', it's true Dick doesn't precisely light up at the idea of having to go running around another vigilante's territory. It's not even personal (mostly), as any one of them would raise eyebrows at outsiders in Gotham. So it's not ideal, and his expression reflects that. He takes a meaningful drink, as if to settle that feeling, and then sets the glass aside.

"New York's my beat now, at least officially. So it was bound to happen sooner or later that I'd end up in someone else's business." Of course, showing up plainclothes to poke around a crime scene and swinging rooftop to rooftop competing for the most scenic brooding-perch locations are two VERY different things. But what choice does he have? Kind of like working with John.

"I'll take a look at what the task force has on these Hellwhatevers first, then see about paying the other kind of visit," is what Dick eventually settles on, as plans go. "If it is something bigger going on, I'm sure he's got his ear to the ground already." That was… not a blind pun. Probably.

By this point, Dinah is caroling even more drunkenly, and Dick looks over with a wry smile. "I think maybe that one oughta turn in soon," he advises, with his tone clearly prefacing it as an excuse for him to get going as well. "Sorry I can't stay to finish the tree, but I've got some casework left. Figure you'll manage somehow."

* * *

"We didn't get pummeled," Barbara says, the grouching reply a bit barbed. "We were outmatched, we pulled out before we got pummeled." Despite the grouch, she settles her shoulder into John's with a hair more pressure. She settles for just teasing fingers through her red hair, brushing loose the waves.

Then John goes and says something encouraging, and she tips a lopsided smile his way. It says plenty in its curve: thanks, you're the best, and don't do anything too dangerous, or I'll kill you myself.

The loudness of Dinah's caroling knocks the moment off-kilter, and then Barbara is sighing softly. She takes John's cup, and from it, a sip, and then she's pushing up toward Dinah. "Alright, I'll take her to bed." Then she stops to give Dick's sleeve an affectionate tug. "Pretty sure we won't even get to the tree until tomorrow. You know how this goes… we get drunk over several days of trying to get all the decorations up." Then she smiles, leaning in to press a kiss to his cheek. She murmurs softly, "Be careful. I'm the only one allowed to be reckless. Just ask Tim."

Then she gives his chest a pat before she tugs his festive hat down a bit lower over his ears. "Now, go give into your workaholic tendencies." Then she steps back to start the Dinah corralling so she can get her friend upstairs and into bed.

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