Chasing Demons
Roleplaying Log: Chasing Demons
IC Details

John has his demons — some literal, some not — and Barbara faces them head on.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: December 03, 2018
IC Location: The Belfry
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 04 Dec 2018 21:56
Rating & Warnings: R (Language and Drug Use)
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: None
Associated Plots

The Belfry is dark — if Barbara left lights on, they're off now. It might be the first indication something is off, but there are others: some odds and ends knocked hither and yon as if a drunken bulldog had come through angry. Furniture is shifted, one chair is turned over, and the cot she sometimes occupies is, well, occupied. John hasn't even shed his second-hand, iconic trench coat, though it's ruptured at one of the shoulders.

The rest of the magician's clothing is even worse for wear: popped at the seams, stitching ripped, covering his form in a delightful send-up of the hollywood image of a cast-away. He's awake, but barely — the warlock nods slightly, slowly, and talks to himself in barely-audible tones that are basically gibberish anyway.

John's slouched over himself, one sleeve's tatters and coat rolled way up, where his arm is tied off by a band that's well overdue removal, controlling circulation. Beside him is a spoon, a used hypodermic needle, and a uniquely ornate silver lighter with a strange iron dial on the front. There's also several empty vials, Barbara would undoubtedly recognize street-prepped Gotham heroin. Delightful!

Instincts are powerful things — lace instincts with a solid intuition and you got one hell of a sixth sense. That's Barbara Gordon. That sense triggers something in the back of her brain when the door to the Belfry opens. It's dark, but Barbara never leaves it dark. Her fingers immediately launch to her belt, thumbing loose a batarang with a razor edge.

She glides forward one step, then two, and then gently presses her palm against the light operations that activates the low lights in the floor dim up slowly. They catch the silhouette of John in his state, and for a heartbeat, all Barbara can see is the rumpled, torn-up state he's in. She steps forward quickly, reaching up to tug her cowl off her head and free her features entirely. "John?"

She kneels beside the cot, and then gets the full picture of his state. Carefully, with gloved fingers, she picks up the spoon, and then the needle. Both are set carefully down on the floor beside her. Next are the vials. Anger first flashes across her face, and then frustration. "John?" Her voice is a bit harder now, and she leans over to give his shoulder a shake.

The warlock's voice, soft as it is, isn't a murmur of contentment or euphoria, but of distress, of venting emotion. The exhausted mania at the end of an ordeal, one that apparently was punctuated by getting really, really high. Despite his state, he's not visibly injured, at least not badly. He's got scratches on his face, one on his arm, one on his chest— marks that look like they were likely made by a very pissed off human being.

The magician doesn't seem to register the light, other than to lower his head farther, nor the redhead's initial approach. He just mutters, and lolls, nodding upper body more subtly along with his skull. When she shakes him, though, Constantine smiles. It's a weak little thing, but unmistakable, flitting across dry lips. "Blue." He murmurs in softer tones, not alert enough -not- to be comforted by her arrival, or the sound of her voice.

"Good. Hey." That's one way to look at it. The sorcerer leans towards her, almost falling forward, and then sharply lurches aside instead. To violently vomit into the trash can he's retrieved for this purpose, considerate to a fault that he is. The expulsed mess is almost black, traced with dark reds and sickly yellows, bloody and volatile in a way that defies even ER experience. "Motherfucker." John gasps hoarsely.

The soft nonsense is heard, and she even turns her ear toward it. Without her cowl, all she's left with is her human ears. She can't make it out, can't make sense of it. Some if it might be the small wall of anger that has built up around her senses. He's doing drugs; he's doing drugs in her lair. What the Hell, John?

Her pet name on his lips doesn't do much to break through that wall, and she starts to shake her head. "Goddamnit, John. What are you doing? Here?" She catches sight of each scratch, each rip to his clothes. She reaches immediately for the band around his arm and tugs it down to his elbow — or she would have, if he didn't immediately retch toward her and then into the trash can.

She scoots back immediately, clearing herself from the blast. She sees the horrible colors, the blood reds and blacks and yellows, and that anger subsides just enough to let worry in. "Goddamnit," she repeats. This time she's reaching for him, helping him get back to lying down. "John, stay there." Her command is soft, but not weak. She starts to get up, leaving his side so she can get the medical kit.

John lays back when bidden like he's been trying and failing to do that for hours, eyes drifting closed as he shudders lightly. It's not the first round in the trash, and even with the drugs, it's clear his everything /hurts/ from the starts and stops to his movements.

In the way it's almost impossible to get comfortable even once he's settled back. He rolls onto one side and groans low, the sound somewhere between suffering and distant realization. "First place." He half-explains. Clearly, he's a race car driver. The warlock shivers once more, and stay there? He's not in much shape to disobey if he felt inclined.

"Just — a minute." Or an hour or two or three. It's a stunted explanation more than appeal; an insistence that he's not overdosing, not about to die on her cot. Delivered in slurred, drug-addled vowels that admittedly don't do a lot to sell his story. "Ohhhh shit." He mumbles, more to himself than her. One hand flops off the couch to drape across the floor.

The hurt is hard to miss — the way his body carries it. It just barely hits that bit of remorse and empathy that she has peeking in the cracks of her anger. But she tries to not let it breach through the wall entirely. "John, you're not making any sense and I think you know that."

Now she's up, him now back on the cot. She crosses the room, tugging her cowl and cape off to leave her in the patched armor that looks like it ricocheted some bullets tonight. She crosses to a cabinet that had looked more like a wall until she presses her hand onto it and it swings open. She grabs a bottle of water, and her first aid kit. Her fingers hesitate over the small bottle of naloxone nasal spray she has, and then she closes her fist around it and pivots to head back. Just in case.

She's turning back to him, taking barely enough time to right a chair before she's kneeling back beside the cot. She shoves the sets the bottle of water down just beside his draped hand, and then she starts to feel over his body, checking for worst wounds than just a few scratches. She gets to the arm band again, and this time gets it off entirely, and starts to smooth his shirt cuff down. Each move is done in barely suppressed anger, frustration, and a bit of sadness.

Her complaint about his cigarettes is now definitely minor in the grand scheme of things.

"Dunno shit." John protests quietly, but firmly. It's hard to argue with him. He manages a swallow or two of water, and somewhere amidst her search for deeper wounds that aren't there — just numerous scratches and signs of muscle trauma and inflammation galore from the way he reacts — the warlock falls asleep.

It's probably the wrong context to find the relaxation complimentary — but then, it's likely that Barbara's picture of the story remains rather incomplete, detective that she is. Constantine sleeps fitfully — little sounds of fright or pain, little jolts of tremor and shift, but he never snaps awake.

Not for a while yet, and when he does, he's considerably more lucid. Much to his dismay. There's a low huff, a groaned sigh, and he rolls flat to his back to eye the ceiling. "Bloody hell." he muses quietly to himself, glancing around for, if not entirely looking -at-, Babs. He does drain the rest of the water, thirstily.

Barbara is sitting beside the cot, back to it. She had changed out of her suit while he was out, and is now dressed in leggings and a tunic-length t-shirt. Her arms are folded up around her knees, knees pressed up against her chest. Her hair is brushed smooth, and still a bit damp from the shower.

She's cleaned up around John: no needles, no spoons, no vials, no vomit. His wounds feel clean because she cleaned then. Then she covered him gently, and waited. The little noises concerned her, the way he seemed to be in pain. It struck that core that is Barbara's great essence: her soft, warm, nougaty center. But don't worry, she's still pissed.

She has her phone out, and it may look like she's scanning some social media app, but she's really looking over a flood of data that she's pieced together. When he rolls and muses to himself, she just slightly looks over her shoulder at him. She's frowning — frowning hard. She gives him a few moments to focus on her, and then she… fucking punches him in the shoulder. Not hard, per se, but jolting. "What the goddamn hell, John."

"Fuckin' ow." Not so much the hit, per se. But the waves of sore that wash out from the point have John recoiling sincerely more than the punch strictly demands. It's not faked, either; or if it is, he's doing it well enough, stoned and drained, to fool her. With another groan, John rolls on the cot and drags himself up to a sitting position, more or less beside Barbara.

There's a considering glance aside, focusing indeed. "Don't suppose it's good enough to tell you there was a damn good reason and it's not what it bloody looks like." He posits, largely rhetorically. No, he probably wouldn't buy it either. Constantine sighs, with hurting, tired, and freshly remorseful baked into the long, emotive breath. "Had to seal up another demon tonight."

It's clear John is weighing what to tell her, what to share. It doesn't have the tone one might expect: calculating a lie, reasoning what what might be understandable. No, there's something else behind the hesitation, something deep-seeded that Batgirl has seen in the warlock before. "Another bad one. Some of the bastards are basically raw, unchecked human emotions, yeah?" He doesn't expect her to follow completely; but maybe turn a page closer to the truth before demanding more answers. Because she's Babs.

The waves of hurt that move through him does prompt a small guilt at her instinctive angered reaction. She just sighs and looks away as he rolls up near to her. Her phone is thumbed dark, and she sets it down on the ground beside her. She curls both arms around her knees, and she tucks a bit of red hair behind her ear.

"It looks like my boyfriend is getting high in my Belfry after a long night instead of maybe trying to get in touch with me." The words are razor sharp. But then her expression changes — shifting slightly from raw anger and annoyance to… bemusement. Oh, she's still pissed, but she's been momentarily diverted.

Then her shoulders fall, and she sighs. Reluctantly, but with some moderate acceptance, she unrolls from her spot on the floor and lifts just enough to sit on the cot beside her. "Same deal as with Alysia, or is this something else?" Her eyes search over his face, seeing the weight there. She closes her eyes, rubs her hands across her face and back through her hair. Then she turns to him, pulling her leg half-on the narrow cot. "Look, just… be honest with me, alright? You had to do an exorcism tonight? Here, in Gotham? Something worse than what was in Alysia?"

"Well. Yea." She's not wrong on the broad strokes, and John doesn't bother trying to pretend otherwise. When she joins him, a hand more tentative than the first time he affectionately touched her again rises slowly to brush another lock of hair back behind the other ear, canting his head slightly to study her as she turns towards him. "Not the same." He clarifies, quietly.

"Pure rage, already anchored into this world. Real far along— maybe if you'd waited another day or three on Alysia, that one would have had its hooks into her like this." John draws a deep, steadying breath, and pauses in his retelling to fish in his coat for a flask, before schluffing it off and drinking the decent whiskey within his prize. Risking further wrath. "This thing was pure rage, they wrote it off as temper, tried to hush it up." The implication is there without saying it: it was in a child, perhaps a teenager.

"I coaxed it out into me, cut the fucker adrift." Because John is terribly difficult for most demons to possess, for one thing. He doesn't bother couching it as what he 'had to' do. He made a choice, he did what he did. He made his call, he lets Barbara make her own. "Flushed the motherfucker down the infernal toilet while it was trying to gets its bloody hooks in. Not so much the rage, though." John glances down at his clothing, the untold evidence of the logistics and agony involved in containing the thing inside himself, even momentarily.

His eyes left hers throughout the recounting, and John ends it staring nails into the floor. "I didn't want to /murder/ anyone, Blue." There's ample anger within John. Fertile ground for such influences. It's probably how he got it to try for him in the first place. Even with the weighty admissions, he holds back. Barbara's too talented at interrogation and, well, reading the magician not to know it. Nothing rings /false/, however, which speaks volumes on its own.

The comparison to Alysia draws Barbara's brows together, her lips pressed tightly. She doesn't shy from the touch, and it seems to stabilize more of her emotions, settle her into something sad and quietly heated instead of boiling over. She ducks her chin a bit, feeling his fingertips slide behind her ear.

Then she looks back up at him, hearing him out as he tries to get through his story with his creative edits and censorship. Though then she's looking almost bewildered. A kid, it was a kid. She observes the flask in passing, but spares John from admonishment. She's too busy listening.

"John," she starts, name soft and sounding lost. When his eyes drop away, and fall to the floor, she just watches him. She hears the withholding, the way he avoids giving her everything.

Now she reaches for him, long fingers touching his hand before they curve up to gather his cheek and turn his eyes up to hers. "Did you kill someone, John?" The question is asked softly, promptingly. Her fingertips slide behind his ear until she's holding him lightly by the side of his head.

The drink is hit thrice before it's capped and set aside, falling over beside the cot with a dull little thunk. When Barbara reaches to him, his head is easily guided back upwards, eyes a mix of glazed intoxication and lingering shock. Some parts of the neverending war never get all that much easier, do they? He goes a step farther, leaning bodily over into her and planting his head against her chest, nestling against the crook of her neck with a heaving sigh. This one, at least, is closer to a release of tension than a tremor of relieved trauma.

"Not this time." He murmurs solemnly. "But she's going to wish I did. The whole thing is fucked." Like he told her with Alysia. It's as good an outcome as anyone gets: maybe they don't remember. Maybe they just have nightmares. Maybe they never remember the terrible things they did, and maybe family is out of town and not there to watch; or die.

He wraps an arm tightly around the redhead's waist and just leans into her, just breathes slowly. "No one she knows is ever gonna forgive her; and even running isn't gonna save someone from shit like that." It's subtly different from the measured admission that preceded it. A drift towards rapider rhythm, a catch in John's breath that creeps back towards quiet mania.

The intoxication drops her heart a bit more, but it is the shock that really buries it in her stomach. Barbara shakes her head gently, starting to speak until he leans into her, and she rocks back slightly with the weight of him burying into her. She sighs out a slow breath, and then curls her arms around him. Her fingers slide slowly into his hair, gathering him up closer. "Alright… alright."

Her eyes close as she just feels him, hears him, and lets him be in that heartbroken moment. She brushes her hand across his shoulders with a comforting pressure. "… I'm sorry, John."

Then she rests her cheek into the top of his head. As the mania creeps in, her grip tightens. She anchors him there with her. "Easy." The word is whispered, space given. Her eyes close. "Heroin was the escape?"

"Be anything but that." John casts off the apology, even in the spirit of sympathy that it's offered. The words are quiet, but forceful, a declaration to himself as much as her. Her tightening embrace is a focus amidst the distress of what he saw, the implications it holds for everyone involved; everyone but him, save what he carries with him. There's always a cost.

In that moment of pain, Barbara's missed guess triggers an equal and opposite reaction. One rumbled note of genuine laughter. "No, luv. Heroin's another devil. Hard for its opposite number's shitheel sorcery to do fuck all when you're noddin', though." And it's just a glimpse of the bullshit Bruce Banner has to try to deal with his little issue. These things are always relative.

"Rage burned out chasing the dragon around a big ol' steeple." John traces a spiraling path in the air before them with his far hand, and then plants it with a squeeze over one of hers. "Didn't realize I was coming here." Which is close to apologizing in turn. And realizing an instinct he, perhaps, didn't fully expect.

The forceful words causes her to swallow the inevitably apology at apologizing. She instead just nods, and instead shifts back until she can rest her back against the wall with John pressed against her, lost in her comforting embrace. There's something even protective there.

When he clarifies the reason for the drugs, her brows arch high and her expression turns into one of surprise — if not some speculation. She can't detect the lie, and that maybe makes her worried even more than she's being played with an excuse. "You got high so you could get passed the demon influences." There's a beat flatness to those words, and then she sighs, resting her head back into the wall.

She had demanded why he was here getting high, and when he actually answers that, the blind instinct to come to her Belfry conjures up conflicting reactions: he knows he's safe her; he shouldn't be getting high to begin with, to hell with where he's getting high. When he grips her hand, she softens her hold on his shoulder and turns it over to squeeze his fingers in turn.

"We need to think of some way for you to signal me that this is going down, John." The words are whispered against his temple. "Something. Text message, or magical warning system, or smoke signals. Please. I need to know when this is happening to you." There's deep concern there. She would take a soul-binding if that meant she would know when John was in danger.

"Lots of demons hate other demons." John murmurs quietly. In this case it's metaphor, but there's deeper truth there as well. Strategies and cons that have kept him going just one more night— and sometimes purchased substantially more. At a substantially higher fee.

The instinct that brought him here, the part of John that knew she'd keep him safe… it's greeted with clearer vision with some degree of sorrow, tinged instead bittersweet with the truth in that resolution. He intertwines his fingers with hers, pressing his hand fully against Barbara's smaller, deadlier grasp. "Aw, Blue." John is touched, deeply, by the protective demand. It leaves him momentarily lost for words, instead squeezing at her touch, arm mirroring the pressure around her waist, pressing her back tightly as he nuzzles against her fondly.

"I had every bloody thing under control." There's no cocky conviction in it, right now. It's tired. It's intentionally left to ring ludicrous. "We'll figure something out, alright?" There's a subtle caution to the agreement; an undercurrent of plea. It goes deeper than the logistics of the situation: that either of them could die alone any given night at work is just a natural facet of their jobs. It doesn't make it easier on anyone.

"That's not surprising," Barbara says in a soft whisper. "I assume demons are sentient with norms and morays and relationships." Those words kind of slip out without much thought — a casual musing.

She leaves him wordless, and that on its own is quite impressive. She does not often know how to make John shut up when he's in his groove, and yet here he is quiet and thoughtful. She watches him work through this, even with the dismissed start. His cautious agreement, the slight plea, does not assuage her as much as he would like.

"I mean it, John." Her words are soft, serious. "I would have been here sooner, I wouldn't have stayed out there if I knew you were in here. I need you to hear me." Her voice catches slightly. Almost like she's read his mind, she murmurs, "I don't want either of us to die alone out there."

"I hear you." John murmurs. Not a dismissal, but a simple consensus, with plenty unsaid. He turns up— no, crashlands in her sanctum, counteracts a terrible spell in a terrible way, and threatens to break down under the terrible reality of the unreality he makes his trade. And Babs? She says next time, she should be there sooner.

It makes for another moment with no witty rejoinder, no hint of sarcasm or agitation. Just an understanding even beyond the meaningful demands she actually makes. He shifts from resting in her arms, against her to press a gentle kiss into the redhead's neck, and then lift up just that tad farther to offer his mouth up to hers, a tender appreciation radiating unspoken through the quietly reply.

"I don't want either of us to die at all." It's the kind of thing he'd normally snark flippantly, but here it's part stark admission, and part his own implicit declaration.


Then she shifts slightly, welcoming him closer against her as he kisses at her neck and then lifts higher still to her lips. She meets the kiss, expressing her worries and concerns for the Magician. There's more to say, but it just gets lost for a moment in their pressed lips. Then she breathes out a slow breath, ducking her head away from him.

The snarkless prompts a small smile at her lips, and then she sighs in a way that deflates her back into the wall. They rest there together for a time, just letting John come down from the last of his intoxicating high and for Barbara to quietly worry about the depth of darkness that surrounds John Constantine.

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