Songbirds
Roleplaying Log: Songbirds
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

After a long night of falling stars, murderous Huntresses, and failed derby bouts, Barbara finally tracks down John in her safehouse. He has a gift for her, and some revelations.

Other Characters Referenced: Frank Castle, Dinah Lance, Huntress, Firestorm
IC Date: December 07, 2018
IC Location: Red Hook, Gotham
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 14 Dec 2018 11:12
Rating & Warnings: R (because John)
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: None
Associated Plots

It has been one of those nights — again. No new wounds, no new battles against the darkest evils of Gotham, but there has been a non-stop barrage of shitstorm after shitstorm. It all started with a falling star that turned out to be a man and his internal Professor that accidentally flew from New York City to Gotham. But she wasn't the only one who caught notice, and she finally met the Huntress who has been tormenting the Narrows — or at least, killing those who have been torturing the Narrows. Like the Red Hood, like Frank Castle… how does she keep collecting these broken people? … though, to be fair, the Red Hood tried to pin her to a concrete floor with a knife; Frank just gave her a concussion and Huntress just tried to impale her with a crossbow bolt. There are always shades of violence.

Speaking of Frank Castle, she got the text messages, but they didn't send her immediately to the greenhouse. No, instead, she went to find Frank at her roller derby bout. And there, instead of finding Frank ready to cheer her on, she found a message taped to her locker from the Captain: You're late. Don't even bother. You're late again, you're out.

So, yeah. It's been one of those nights. After talking with Frank — and that was filled with plenty of awkwardness and seeking equilibrium — she finally got back on her bike and made the journey to the building in Red Hook that housed her safehouse. She parked in the crappy lower level garage, locked her bike, and made the journey up the stairs to the roof. She's not at all sure what to expect when she gets into the greenhouse, but she barely hesitates when she keys in the code and steps inside.

In the midst of the trying night, it might have been lost on Barbara that the sequence of events led Frank and John to intersect amidst her annoying meteor shower intervention. This -might- have something to do with other trying parts to said night. Another in the redhead's collection of dubiously functional people lurks in the greenhouse, still. She was his last stop, and since being left alone here, John has been drinking.

The ample chunk missing from the large bottle of bourbon currently sitting on the floor beside the bed is testament to that fact, but it's likely the birdsong Barbara would notice first. It starts when she keys in the code, it continues as she walks into the converted apartment. It draws John's head up from where he's lolled across the bed width-wise, his legs hanging off the edge. "Heeey. Blue." Drunkstantine takes a moment to weigh the balance of frown to smile and raised eyebrow to wink to apply and it comes off a little bit disjointed.

"You're -so- late. I've been drinking your drinks -so- fucking long." Because she normally just keeps up -so- well with his drinking, of course, that it impacts potential consumption. The warlock squints intently at her, his invisible friend amidst the planters twitters. "You look like you could use one, though." Not like hell, exactly. It's different for Barbara, in John's estimation— but increasingly visible when the weight of the world is on her shoulders.

In this moment, seeing her drunk so-called boyfriend is not exactly the sight she was hoping for. She should have expected it, but maybe she was hoping for something else to be waiting for her. Like hot tea and a meal, because she's starving and more than a little threadbare. She is distracted from the reproach by the birdsong. She tilts her head up, trying to trace its origin with a flicker of her blue eyes.

His greeting is acknowledged with a slight dip of her chin, but she's still trying to find the source of the song. She turns, backing up a few steps while she keeps tracing the ceiling, but then she realizes it isn't up, and she alights a look on the planter. She edges toward it, trying to spot the invisible creature to no avail. Dissuaded from looking more intently, she pivots toward John, now taking in the sight of the rumpled magician on her safehouse bed. She steps forward, collecting the bottle off the floor. She doesn't drink it, but instead looks it over. It's Dinah's favorite label, which means he didn't get to her stash but Dinah's instead.

She sits on the edge of the bed, giving John a bit more space than she consciously intended. She gently sets the bottle back on the floor, this time out of John's reach. She rubs her hands down her thighs before she leans forward enough to rest her elbows against her knees. "John, I'm starting to notice a trend that when you're left alone in one of my Batgirl places, you get drunk. Or high."

"I get drunk a fuck of a lot." John owns the obvious. "If it weren't here, it would be somewhere else." Barbara actually -positively- impacted his consumption— but even a tad past inebriated, Constantine is smarter than to play /that/ card like it's going to help him out. Throwing the harder substance in there like it's the same recurrence draws a squinting gaze back to the redhead; it plainly hits home, past the pleasant fog. Which is quite possibly conjured by liking the same cheap and plentiful whiskey Dinah does, rather than robbing the Canary, for the record.

"What, your turn to want to fight?" It's far more curious, and perhaps a twinge trepidatious, than it is confrontational; but it's also easy to misconstrue someone she just woke up, who's drunk. "You mad at me for something?" She's not yelling, but the tension, the distance, that /weight/ returning after its recent lift… There's a visible pause as John searches his head for -what- he did, and either comes up empty or with way too many options to make a reasonable call, just settling his gaze over towards her and reaching out an arm to snug her soundly about the shoulders towards him in a singular, affirming offering.

"I know I'm supposed to already know and shit, but" John's train of thought jumps rails, or appears to. " you had a grizzled admirer come by, said he'd meeet you at the 'bout'." John lays those air-quotes on like it's /clearly/ a secret agent thing. Some vast conspiracy. Should he be mad at /her/? The warlock drifts back into a moment of introspective reverie; or possibly zones out.

The questions startle her a bit, and she blinks in surprise. "… No, John." The soft pause that comes before those words were filled with introspection — an attempt to actually decide. Did she want to fight? Was she mad at him? Maybe a little — maybe kicking up a bit of a fuss over the half-empty bottle, the lounging around her safehouse like some fraternity pad. But it's a weak reason to take any sort of fight stance with John. There will be bigger things to fight about… and maybe one day, that big thing will be John's penchant for self-destruction. Then she sighs softly as she curls her hands around her neck, pressing her hair down so it bobs up against her cheeks and jaw. "No. I'm not mad at you, or trying to fight. Really."

Then she scoots in close at the weight of his arm and the snug up against his side. She leans her head briefly against his own, her forehead to his temple. Then she leans back just enough so blue eyes can meet blue eyes. The mention of Frank draws a slight grimace to her lips, and she looks away just as easily, glancing down at her legs. "Frank Castle." She whispers his name. "Yeah." Her brows furrow slightly at the term admirer, and she looks slightly back toward him. "He came to watch me jam at the roller derby bout."

Sometimes, it becomes so apparent how little time has passed since she called him for Alysia's exorcism. How little she's actually explained about her life now, the small details. Like Frank, and the Defenders, and derby — though she's on the verge of getting the kick there. "It's a good excuse for the bruises and injuries… girls beating up each other on a roller track. Though, I haven't really… been a good teammate lately." Because how in the hell is she supposed to keep up with every thread out there that connects back to her.

No one drinks alone waiting for their lady in a fraternity pad. At least, that's not John's experience with the phenomenon. "Good." The magician decides, relaxing a bit, noticeably, in the lean. He tilts his head to press a brief kiss along the corner of her mouth and cheek, and nods to her clarification. "Yeah, luv. Him." There's no surprise, John's already placed Frank. And congratulated him on his work.

There's no warning or admonishment; in the Hellblazer's book, he's probably the most dangerous company Barbara keeps dangerously close. "He seemed" John considers, glassy eyes looking off into the space, towards the doorway. " really interested in that derby." Constantine settles on a simple truth that conveys larger observations. "Decent cover…" the magician admits, with a wry half a smile. "I didn't even know you played." It's possible he's considering those same gaps and lapses; it's also possible he wishes his were shit like roller derby. Assuming it's not as euphemistic as it seems like it could be, at least.

"Somehow I think with all the bollocks on your bloody plate, they're just going to have to fucking deal." It's impossible for John to let Babs run herself down over failing her -roller derby team-, with the life she leads, without substantial corrective snark.

The redhead turns her lips to his as he places those careful kisses, and she meets the one to her mouth with her own gentle touch. Then she breathes out a slow breath that also relaxes her a bit, and she folds an arm across her legs as she looks down at the floor once more. Much is rolling around in her head — billiard balls banging into each other, careening off, bouncing off the walls of her mind.

"Frank and I…" She works through the words carefully, thoughtfully. "I got entangled with him." She hesitates, adding almost thoughtfully. "Not romantically. Not sexually. But no less intensely. I learned about what happened to his wife, his kids… and I threw myself into his case. I was all he had for a long while — only one who stood at his side when he went through his revenge." She starts to laugh, but the laugh is quiet and hollow. "Batman hated that. He tried all he could to get me to focus back on Gotham, but I kept going back to New York."

The story incites a soft sigh from her, and she tucks a bit of red lock behind her ear in that signature worrying gesture. "I got too close… got my apartment shot up, got myself targeted." She actually starts to laugh, but it's a weary sound. "I even stopped wearing my suit when I helped him, like I was becoming someone else." Then she looks to him once more, blue eyes meeting his. "I like him. Affectionately. Deeply. Doesn't diminish how I feel for you, John. But… you should know that."

"Hard road, that kind of revenge." John has a measure of experience, and also the same unusual, quiet respect for the endeavour that he showed to Castle himself. "Always wonder if it's a saving grace to get a hand from someone who half fucking understands—" John's gaze drops to the floor, his brow furrowing. " — or part and parcel to the nastiness of the job that anyone who gets pulled in gets cocksucking tore up by it."

It's not impugnment of the Punisher — not /really/. Except in as much as pain and wrath overlap in the two men, and as much as people they care about have been hurt by those dubious duties. The admission draws a slow smile from John, wry and mildly amused. "You're surrounded by buff, eminently fuckable men who are wrapped around your finger, you know. Ones you like -too-, at that." It's possible he resembles that observation a bit— but then again, John Constantine is an odd breed unto his own, isn't he?

"I try not to wonder how I -possibly- found you lonely." The tease is anchored in truth, and also a self-aware levity. "And remember we have a deal; and you have /incredibly/ questionable taste." The self-deprecation is similarly darkly jovial, like the mystery of it all is part of the entertainment value. Life is strange. "You want Chinese, right? I want Chinese." John digs in his pocket for a burner phone, picking one out of a set of three.

John's observation catches a bit of emotion in her throat. She got torn up. She got targeted and hunted and ended up being top on the list of those Blacksmith wanted dead, all because the pretty redhead got caught-up with a heartbroken, angry man. She is lost in those thoughts when John starts to make those observations, and she blinks in surprise as she looks aside to him. It breaks her of that quiet, lost moment, snapping her back to reality like a rubberband.

"John — " She starts, and then the words falter as an uncertain cloud surrounds her. She starts to shake her head, perhaps realizing that the Magician isn't putting himself in that similar category. Her hand touches his, fingers collecting his just as he starts to dig into his pocket for his burner. She remembers the deal — she gets sick of him, she says the world and it… ends. Just disappears.

She's doesn't respond when he starts to try to distract from the moment with Chinese. Her stomach growls though, just communicating that some part of her is really interested in Chinese, okay? She just gently grasps his fingers with hers, tightening her hand around him. She furrows her brow for a moment, looking into his half-glazed blue eyes. Then she nods. "Alright… yeah. Chinese."

Torn up in a compromised compromise driven by a stubborn man who sees no other options. Constantine has already assured Barbara it will happen again— after all, she's a stubborn woman who'll do what she damn well thinks is right. It's trouble, it's difficult, it's probably one of her best features in the warlock's book. He's complicated, too. "What." John quirks his head askance to peer back at Babs, still wearing half a smirk. "Don't tell my you didn't bloody notice." Because he doesn't believe that for a minute.

John shifts her hand into his other, drawing it into his lap as he flips open the phone and rings up the number he took down on his way in— because contrary to appearances, he /has/ learned she's either just eaten, or always hungry… but she -really- doesn't want the warlock active in her kitchen. Especially drunk. His query stays rhetorical as he orders a veritable feast, actually recalling a set of the redhead's standbys by intellect or dumb luck— and making sure to order way more than they'll be able to eat. Even with the voracious appetite on the relatively petite vigilante. All of it extra spicy, naturally.

"Hey." The faltering words, the almost-visible clouds, her abortive train of thought his buzzed impulses inspired. He presses his hand into hers with a bit more focus as the magician's smirk softens. "All good, yeah?" Even if he may not have an ass worthy of being Batman. It's never quite that simple, amidst complex webs of attachment, resentment, and stronger forces still— but the quiet affirmation of at least one of those difficult choices stands nonetheless. "What're you worried about?" The whole list, John, or the top ten? A wisp of red is tucked behind her ear and he leans the rest of the span into her shoulder.

She didn't. Or perhaps she had just decided not to notice, not to make it an obvious observation. She's left to think through his question as he orders the Chinese food, and when he names several of her favorites, it distracts her temporarily from worrying about signs she may have missed about Frank, and reciprocal feelings. She watches the way his hand — nicked with scars and its own signature of weathering — squeezes onto hers, holding her in his lap.

She had wanted tea, and she had wanted a meal. She will take the Chinese food, and make the former. The greenhouse is nothing if not stocked with non perishables like cans of tuna, crackers, and tea. She's definitely sending John down to the street corner to pick up the Chinese once it arrives, but for now, they are here and she's focused on him with those serious blue eyes.

There's something telling in John's quiet insecurities — worried about her priming for a fight, worried about if he's pissed her off, worried for whether or not they are still okay. In some ways, she's recognized that their deal was his way of setting up for failure, to giving her a safe out. Maybe he's had these deals before — and maybe too many of them took the out when push came to shove. When he asks his question about her worries, she laughs — and it's an exhausting laugh. "Everything. I'm worried about everything, John." Then she touches his knuckles with her opposite hand. "I just hide it really, really well."

John doesn't really expect anything but to offer and share reassurances, in this particular moment. Sure as he might be that she'll want that exit door sooner or later, the magician is relatively sure that's not on her mind -now-. No, the next word on his lips was 'Everything?' and it makes Barbara's difficult answer spark a note of laughter it likely wouldn't have, otherwise.

"Not at as well as you think, luv." John observes matter-of-factly. At least, not from him. "Fuckin' unhelpful answer, too." Which is true, but also light; teasing and sarcastic. She's difficult, this has been established. "You really didn't realize it, did you." Constantine muses, some realization dawning its way across his languid mind.

"God damnit. I need to learn to keep my bloody mouth shut." Again, it's somewhere between frank utterance, and sarcastic nonsense— she should be used to that by now. John gives her hand a squeeze, and bumps her shoulder with his own, leaning in close with a quieter chuckle. "You got it all in one stubborn-as-shit package and halfway to everybody sees it, Blue. Cut yourself a smidge of slack and just own it."

She knows she's being difficult. She can just feel it settle around her. It isn't meant to be an evasive, or stubborn answer — but that doesn't mean it isn't all the same. She meets his laughter with a weary smile of her own, and she squeezes his hand gently at his observation. Her eyes roll just slightly before a light smile flickers on her lips. "Sorry." Then she ducks her head a little when he calls her out again, and she shrugs. "His wife is dead John… less than a year. I don't know. Isn't unrequited affection a thing?"

Then she tilts her head aside, looking out across the quiet interior of her greenhouse. The windows at the ceiling reflect the faint blur of stars through their smudged and almost-opaque surface. It's late. But this is her life at the moment. She focuses on that distant escape of exosphere while she thinks, hearing his words. Her mouth lifts, an unfinished laugh humming at her lips. Then she looks back to him, dropping her eyes to meet his.

"I could love you, John." The words escape her easily, without thinking. She had said the same thing about John to Frank Castle outside the coffee shop. She has said something similar a time before — all about hearts and whether or not his heart had room for her. "I could love Frank, too." But Frank had said that if she found love, to hold onto it, which confused the edges of that last thoughtful rejoinder. Something she hasn't quite unpacked. Then she smiles, tired. "Wait, did you just call me stubborn as shit, or is the package you?"

"Sure." Some would insist all love is unrequited, in the end. "And those ties make everything at least a little messier." The magician speaks from experience, as much about /them/ as about Barbara and anyone else. Constantine meets her gaze with his own darkened blues, brows momentarily arching at her words. It's both an expression of surprise— and anything but. Something he didn't expect to hear, but hardly finds shocking.

"I know." John murmurs quietly. Her words speak to things she's been showing, and saying in her own way. Things he might even be learning. "I know…" She could love Dick, she could love Frank— Barbara probably has it in her heart to love every broken and/or difficult creature in the world. The magician invests in a half-embrace, tightening his arm around the redhead's shoulders and drawing her close again as he counter-leans into the contact.

He pauses the conversation to press his lips firmly to hers, the fierce if truncated gesture as much an answer as anything else the warlock offers. "/Yes/." He confirms steadily, resting his face next to hers. "I'm calling you stubborn as /shit/, which is how I know in this, as in every-other-fucking-thing, you're going to do what you want, and think you oughtta." Which he seems to be be rather okay with— from what he can tell, her compass still mostly works.

The change in his expression is met with an almost accepting twitch of her lips. The words that accompany the surprised look are just the start of the low, soft hum of laughter behind her lips. She sighs out a breath, and then tilts her head with a half-curtain fall of forelocks. "You're not quite Han Solo, you know. And that wasn't even a close enough quote. But I'll take it."

Then she looks aside once more, pressing into the embrace that pulls her against his side. Her head rests temporarily against his shoulder before he seizes her with that brief, firm kiss. She arches up slightly in her seat, meeting it with her own connection that is softer. Then she's laughing again at his confirmation of her being stubborn, and the laughter warms her expression until she's smiling again. "I have a father who is naturally stubborn and a mentor who is more than naturally stubborn. I was doomed either way."

Finally, only barely having forgotten and now remembered the little songbird in her planter, she turns to it. "You going to tell me about my little friend?"

John holds up a hand and indicates with finger and thumb that he might in fact be a LITTLE bit Han Solo. Perhaps in the basic proximity thereof. "I wasn't trying to quote anyone." It's quiet, and at least mostly honest. John can't help what happens moment to moment, there's just too much chaos in his life. Does he look like a man with a plan? "But sure— blame your teachers. Not your nature. Not your tastes." Which yes, is sarcastic enough to definitely suggest that calling the magician stubborn as shit is also fair play. It's softened by a gentler peck, and a wry chuckle on Constantine's part.

A -hearty- sigh shifts the redhead's leanperch, but it's one of easing tensions rather than gathering frustrations. "You're so much trouble." John reiterates, for who-knows-how-many-times-now, though each seems to have a bit /more/ fondness to it. The warlock whistles a little tune that's all but pitch-perfect as a note by note retread of one of the little one's songs, and extends a hand and fingertip between himself and Barbara, which accrues the faintly shimmering, shifting form of a tiny, ghostly bird.

"Couldn't think of a more appropriate alarm. She can see most shit that's not us, she sings whenever anything's nosing into the roost. I'll tie you in so it matters to you, too." The little bird tweets a happy song, none of the warnings that came with Frank or Barbara's initial arrival; though those, too, were pretty songs.

"I know you weren't." The words are said softly with a little smile. Then the laughter returns, and she looks amused and definitely more relaxed. It's been a long night, she's out of steam. There's nothing left to do than to just give into the high emotions, the feelings of frustration and hints of failure, and just ride them out in a mindful, accepting way. "I thought by throwing my dad into the equation I was acknowledging my nature. My mom is far more stubborn than my dad though." There's a flutter of something in mentioning her mom, and her shoulders drop just slightly.

Thanks to John's exasperation, she's not left lingering in that place, feeling the pains of abandonment. Instead, she is smiling crookedly at his complaint, fueled by fondness, and then smiling at the little lilting whistle. When the ghostly bird appears, she gasps quietly — a childlike response to magic, and something that may never really go away when gifted with something lovely and graceful and totally magical. Helps that it's a cute little bird, too.

She leans in closer, reaching out a hand to touch the ghostly feathers of the pretty songbird. "She's lovely." Then she looks up at John at the offer to tie her in. "What do you mean, tie me in? Will she… tell me if someone is here who shouldn't be?"

"Dads are a piss-poor excuse for our behavior, luv." John doesn't know Jim Gordon— but it seems like a sensible caveat, from his point of view. Plus, he probably would have still snarked back at her -regardless-. "Da was a prick that puts my acumen to fucking shame." Which is a ripple not unlike Barbara's recollection of her mother— or well, quite unlike it, but with similar, transitory impact on Constantine's tone, the shift towards inscrutable of his expression.

The little spirit, or rather Barbara's reaction to it, draws him out of those rail-lines in turn, and John glances a devilish glance from bird to Babs. "Well. Not what it meant /last/ time, Blue." Nonchalant, pinpoint targeting of tease (or sleaze?) might be a John Constantine forte. "Someone who's not supposed to be, someone who is." Possibly now and then just because the little avian spirit is lonely.

"Here." He has a small handful of grain and seed to offer over, and when Barbara holds it out, the little spirit flits about and the food seems to go from fresh to ancient in a span of instants, shriveling and spent on the spot. An appreciative little medley of notes whistle somewhere from the back of Batgirl's mind.

The mention of John's dad is definitely something that piques Barbara's interest, but there is not time to ask, or needle, or prod for more information. Instead, she's distracted by the little bird. The turn of phrase from John earns a slightly exasperated look from the Bat, and she says in a slightly tired voice, "That's not what I meant, and you know it, John." Then her focus is back to the bird as it sits adorably on the Magician's finger.

The offer of grain and seed perplex her for a moment. "Why do spirits need food?" But it is more or less a rhetorical question that may prompt answer, but doesn't require it. She still holds out her hand of grain and seed to the little bird, and watches in rapt fascination as the seed depletes and dries up. The sound of birdsong in the back of her head distracts her, looking between the bird and John. "All I needed to do was feed it?"

Then she smiles as she holds out her finger to the little spirit, inviting it to hop over. Dear God, what a Disney princess. "You have your ways, John," she says quietly as she admires the little songbird.

"Did I?" He did. Tired and exasperated were not -quite- the buttons he was looking for, though, and he resolves it typically: enigmatic and nigh-unspoken-of. "It's not food." Not exactly. "Just an offering." A ritual. A transfer of energy and the forging of a subtle thread.

"That's all -you- need to do." Constantine does love layering the mystery on the enigma, but really— explaining all the mechanics in detail just ruins the moment, and while the spirit vanishes upon leaving contact with John, she's tangible to Babs. Hopping along a fingertip, and undoubtedly canting ethereal head hither and yon to consider the redhead. Not her summoner or what bound her here, but clearly involved in the purpose of that effort.

A gesture of his hand and a murmur under the magician's breath nonchalantly gestures across the apartment space, and intricate circles arrayed in a helix glow into view on the floor, similar marks etched into the glass in complex and careful quartet: Forays into protective and obfuscating measures alongside clever traps for any number of problems.

John doesn't bother explaining it all right off, either. He just lowers his hand, and lets it fade back to obscurity, smirking lightly at the redhead. "I told you, I was waiting a fucking -long- time." And she thought he was /only/ getting implosively drunk and irritating Castle. For shame.

The disappearance of the bird stalls her a moment, but then she feels it — tiny weight, little feet. She smiles gently at its presence before she turns open her hand, letting it flutter away if it wishes. Such a Disney princess…

Then she blinks, surprised by the gesture and the visible power it invokes. She looks around her safehouse at the intricate geometry that now fills the physical planes of her only real, personal safehouse beyond the Belfry. She's impressed, and that alone is conveyed in the silence that captures her. Ghost images of it stays with her vision until it dims and fades, and she is left in awestruck silence. She pivots toward him, tucking back a fallen lock of red behind one pale ear. Her smile softens as she looks at the Magician beside her. "I'm sorry." The words are genuine, an expression of actual guilt. "I should have come and checked in on you, but I needed to finish up in the Narrows, and then check-in on Frank and the bout." There's no air-quotes there.

"There's some Huntress in the Narrows, going for a Punisher-like justice. I was hunting her before the bout, but it took longer than I expected. A man-on-fire with a professor in his head crash-landed into a dumpster." There is not a euphemism behind her words. No, really.

"No, all good there luv." John brushes off the idea that Barbara 'should' have been back earlier entirely, readily, and with some degree of firm insistence. She's used to people questioning her life, second-guessing her priorities, fretting every time that chaos takes her out of step with what's expected. And sure, John has shades of that last one— but he pretty thoroughly gets the rest.

"Just maybe don't give me that look right the fuck off if you're late as hell and I got to drinkin' and napping." The prod is gentle, half teasing. John's also aware it's not the most positive coping mechanism a man could choose— but life is rough.

Constantine takes his time digesting the latter parts of the story, and in the end he's shaking his damn head anyway— and scooting to take his feet and pursue his bottle of booze. "See? /Exactly/ what I'm saying." Sometimes, all too often, there's really only 'take a shot, move the fuck on' in this ridiculous lifestyle.

The way he brushes aside her apology incites both a smile and soft, accepting sigh. Her elbows rest gently into her knees, hands sliding back through her hair in a smooth slicked-back motion that then pins her hair to the sides of her neck. She watches him with a half-tilt of her head, blue eyes tracking his casual movements, subtle motions.

The prod is met with a slight snort of her breath, and she shakes her head as she looks away briefly. When she looks back at him, her expression is a mix of serious and uncertain. "There are things I worry about, John. They are your choices, but that does not remove the worry that it won't be a demon that kills you, or another warlock, or a bullet you don't see coming… it'll be something that is a different kind of insidious."

It is the first time that Barbara has really mentioned the trends, and she does so carefully. When he stands, she just follows the motion. The bottle is still on the other side of her, on the floor. When he finds it, she just releases the hold she has on her hair and also stands with a graceful upward sway. Then she glances at the little antique timepiece on the table beside the bed, and she nods. "I'll go down and meet the delivery guy. Think you can make me some tea? There's tins in the cabinet." She gestures. He'll even find an electric kettle and heavy, nondescript mugs — the kind that could brain someone if thrown just the right way.

His rough cheek is awarded with a kiss of softer lips, and then she's stepping toward the door still in her Lit Chick's derby zip-up hoodie jacket. John is awarded with the back graphic of a rather well-done pin-up girl, sprawled out and reading a book.

'I'm afraid it won't be one of those evil fucks that kills you, John Constantine— it'll be you yourself.' It's far from a new idea. It's far from a light thought. John's first reaction weighing it? The magician takes a drink, and then recaps the bottle, wobbling just a little as he adapts to his footing.

The peck to the cheek helps, and John leans into Babs lightly to stabilize himself, and then to forestall her walking away, one hand curling around her forearm at the crook of the elbow. "Hey" Constantine searches for words anew. " I hear you, alright?" Not literally alright. Nor would the warlock forestall her for a brush-off. It worries him too, but there's no easy answers; and a whole lot of bullshit to deal with. He releases his hold a moment later, his attention lingering on her way out the door. And perhaps a moment after.

It's also possible much of her trip down the stairwell is spent looking everywhere and past the tea a few times, then realizing he could have just started the water. "Okay, but…" John murmurs to himself as he gradually progresses towards successfully boiling water. "I'm gonna… set the building on fire." Mutterances or no, the warlock manages to deduce the workings of this particular hot water pot, and manages not to knock the tea tins off the counter while gathering them towards said project. John nods, nods at no one in particular. Good work, John.

The forestalling grip of John's hand to her forearm does its purpose, and she turns slightly to meet his blue eyes. It's… not an expected answer from John. She expected a scoff, a brush-off, some use of the word fuck or some other obscenity. The fact that he actually says that he hears her, that he knows, is a bit more startling than anything else he could have said. "Oh." She then nods slightly. "Okay. Then. Good."

Then she's turning, resuming her path down onto the roof, into the stairwells, and down to the street to wait for the car to turn-up with the Chinese food. She leaves him in the strange little kitchen to try to make her tea, which she maybe should have reconsidered. Or she's testing him, because just moments ago she had decided she would send him down, and now she's making him make her tea.

She's only down there for about five minutes before the car shows up, and she's taking the enormous bag of food from a confused looking Asian man who cannot help but ask what a skinny white girl is going to do with all that food. She just smiles, and brushes off the comment with a casual shoulder-shrug. She pays in cash, and takes the food in both arms, and then heads to retrace her steps back to the safehouse.

Something stops her for a heartbeat, and she half-turns toward the skies as if expecting something. She stands there for longer than she should, and then… goes back inside with a faintly troubling thought consuming her mind. She starts up the stairs, slowly at first, and then a bit quicker.

At least no one asked him to turn on the stove— and he noticed the electric kettle. It means that John does not, in point of fact, actually set the building on fire. This time. In the time Barbara waits for and retrieves their feast(tm), John boils water, smokes a cigarette by the far window, re-boils water because it went off before he was done, waits impatiently. John stuff.

He then uses it to set two mugs of tea to steep, with relatively minimal sloshing, at one juncture caaaarefully stalling a nudged mug as it threatens to spill its sides. The entire affair just that much more complicated and unduly compelling due to unfamiliar circumstance and notable inebriation. By the time Babs makes it back upstairs, Constantine not only has tea started (but not really finished), he's found forks. FORKS!

The redhead's parcel is several orders of Mongolian Beef, several varieties of Chinese-ish chicken nuggets, all the fried rice in Gotham, Crab Rangoon and spicy gyoza— for the curious and/or those who wanted to be hungry. How is the quote skinny little white girl unquote going to eat all that food? Why, with gusto, John expects; and enthusiastically again the next morning.

Barbara Gordon is met with the interesting display of a perfect (ish) duo of tea mugs and forks. She actually smiles a bit, even while her eyes make quick assessment over the kitchen as if looking for signs that this whole thing had been more of a hardship for Constantine. She just assumed that a drunk Brit would know how to make tea; isn't it genetic or something? Ancestral memory? Part of their very DNA?

She steps forward and sets the giant bag of Chinese on the counter. When she opens the bag, she finally offers him a quick smile that is just edging into playful at the corners. She keeps her blue eyes on him as she starts to unload the bag. Then she realizes the sheer quantity of food that's been ordered. "God, John… how much did you order?" She thought the tab was a bit high, but she's starting to suspect there's more food in here than she paid for. Coupons maybe? Suspicions abound when it comes to John Constantine.

Then she takes out two sets of chopsticks, and holds them up in silent questioning and comparison to the forks he's uncovered. There's judgement there: forks or chopsticks.

The leafwater that ruled the world. Kind of. "Might want to give it another five, luv." John observes, owning just how not-entirely-efficient his application of ancestral aptitude may have been. He shifts his weight into the counter as he reaches it, beside Babs— and the food. He's hungry, he's been hungry, drinking on an empty stomach and hanging around, because she let him in and fed him once, or something.

"Plenty." John settles on— and he did invite them to throw in anything crispy, because he was drunk as hell. More or less in those words. And while the order might not be quite -right-, he gets extra plenty often. "Figure we feast now, we feast in the morning, and you have a peace offering for whichever hooligan is most pissed at your goddamn rampant irresponsibility. And maybe another round of feasting after that…." John tallies them up, before realizing he can't really predict that.

Fork? Chopsticks? In this context, Constantine -thoroughly- doesn't care. They're both usable implements for shoveling spicy food into his face. He /shrugs/ so exaggeratedly and leans in for a kiss laced with mischief and heat; judge that instead. "The way you eat, maybe one in the middle of the night."

When it comes to Chinese food, Barbara Gordon is decisively no plate, eat straight of the cartons. She is already taking up a carton of some General Tso's chicken that has more than just a few stars on its lid to indicate its heat. She is halfway to opening it before the loom of John Constantine has her turning slightly in her stance to be caught-up in that kiss. Her eyes lid shut, lips moving easily with his.

Then she is laughing huskily against his lips, and she looks up at him with a slight arch of her brows. "I feel like I'm being judged, and not at all quietly at that. I like to eat, and I have enough calories to burn to enjoy eating." Then she hands him a pair of chopsticks so he can make the final decision on his eating utensil.

She finally pops open the container, and turns to lean against the counter with her own chopsticks in hand. She's pretty good with them, too. Though, she also uses her fingers when chopsticks get too unwieldy, and she dares John to judge her. She darts a look his way when they settle in, eating. When she speaks next, it's a casual thing, but no less needling: "So, I'm your partner?"

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