House and Heart

May 25, 2015:

Constantine and Kitty talk about magic and the possibility of her learning some.

The House of Mystery

It's mysterious!


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Constantine and Kitty are thick as thieves, lately. Between shopping trips to occult markets to building Kitty's custom Mary-Poppins-esque purse, Kitty's spending plenty of time in the House of Mystery and accompanying Constantine on some (very) limited missions and jobs around the tri-city area. For some reason, despite her utter competence, John seems even more reluctant to let Kitty off the hook while they're working together than when they stumble on a scene independently of one another.

"That's … thirty-two points," John says, retrieving his darts from the pub dartboard he'd hung on the wall of his office. He rolls the needle tips in his fingers, moving out of the way so Kitty has her shot, folding his arms across his lean chest. "Let's see if you can clean up the fifteens, luv."

What with all the work and meeting that the pair have been doing, Kitty gives Constantine a sidelong glance. She's not the best at darts, but she'll humor him. Her weapons and agility were always more suited toward melee combat than ranged. Standing near the back, she tosses a dart. She's not so bad that she hits the wall, but getting a dart to hit exactly where she wants is also a bit out of her wheelhouse at the moment.

They share a companionable silence for a few moment as she lines up another shot. "So," she says before throwing. The dart hits on the outside circle. "Y'know. We talked about it really briefly before." There's another short pause before she gathers her thoughts. "But, you did say you might teach me some hocus pocus some day. I've been helping you out and haven't gotten myself killed or attacked by demons just yet." Other than K'nert, but he doesn't count as he was only after her ice cream.

John waits for Kitty to finish her shots- he's rude in almost every regard, but he does hold the etiquette of bar games sacred. He notes down Kitty's points on a scrap of paper near his elbow and from his seat, without even squaring up with the board, throws three accurate shots against the dartboard, sinking the darts deep into the dense cork with little effort.

"I was mulling over that notion today," John admits, looking at his handiwork. "Normally there'd be a big talk about responsibility and accountability, but you're a bloody mutant. You know how power works. You've had enemies and challenges thrown in your face all your life."

"What's dangerous about magic is that in some ways, it's a very finite resource," he says, looking at the dartboard thoughtfully. "There are a comparitive handful of mages in the universe. Some are born with a talent. Others learn it. But once you've tapped into that power, you'll never be able to just put it down. You'll see things differently after that. You'll hear words in a different fashion," he explains, gesturing vaguely. He looks to Kitty. "And people- and monsters- will know you can /see/ them in a new and terrible way, and that you can channel those powers. And they'll want to take you and use you, as an ally, weapon, or a pawn to sacrifice. It's a lonely and bitter life in a lot of ways."

It's something that Kitty has been debating off and on for quite awhile. She remembers how vehemently Constantine warned her off even being his friend in the beginning of their friendship. And, the very fact that she's not needling him at this very moment that she's ready might mean she's taken that warning to heart. There's not just a few dangers in her life.

As it's John's turn now to shoot, she steps away from the line, leaning against one of the wooden end tables available. A frown crosses her face. "I've already had a bit of that," she tells him somberly. "Being used as an ally and a weapon and a pawn all at once. The man who killed my father used me like that."

As for the talent and never being able to put it down, she frowns and shrugs. "As long as it doesn't interfere with my teaching at Xavier's, I don't see how it's all that much different from being born a mutant. It's a power I never asked for and that people fear and hate me for having it. At least with this I'd have a choice. And if it can help my friends…" she shrugs. It seems worth the risk.

"It will interfere, but not terribly," John says, moving his hand back and forth. "I guess you might as well consider it something like a secondary degree. You'd need to spend some nights and weekends studying. Homework. Trips to interesting places. Naturally, it'll take a lot longer than you'd expect to get things done. I once spent two weeks on a demiplane because of all things I couldn't sort out how to count in base eleven."

"But you've got the proper attitude and the mentality for it," John tells Kitty. "And you're clever enough. You might have some potential to be a proper sorceror, but I'm sure with some diligent work and effort I could at least make you a decent wizard. You might only know a few basic spells and some theory, but… well, I've been wrong before. You could be quite powerful someday. But I have to hear it from your lips, girl," he warns Kitty. "It's a long and lonely road, and once you commit, you start down that path- and it'll only get harder the longer you walk it."

"As long as the children won't be in any more danger than they already are with a mutant on staff." And being a school filled with mutants. Kitty tilts her head at the thought of considering it as a secondary degree. "I never actually went to college," she tells John with a smirk. "I mean, I started to, but, then my father disappeared in Japan and I stayed there for two years. Never went back. Didn't see the point. So, getting a degree from John Constantine's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry sounds like an opportunity I can't pass up."

Whether she'll be a decent wizard or not gets a shrug. "I'd just be glad to have some defense. My phasing is effected by magic, so having an extra defense would be great." Standing up from the table, she reaches over a hand to give him a firm handshake deal. It seems like the gesture would have enough meaning for him to seal the deal. "I want to learn from you."

John reaches over and gives Kitty's hand a firm handshake, meeting her eyes. "All right, then," he says. "I accept you as my student." And he holds her hand for a beat as an odd sensation creeps over Kitty's skin. It's a peculiar sort of frisson with no discernable source, as if she'd just passed her palm through a set of powerful magnets.

"You're bound to me, now, just as I'm bound to you," John tells Kitty. "Most of the power of a wizard comes from your personal belief. You have to /believe/ the power works, whether it comes from within or without. If there's doubt in your mind about what you're doing, it'll be echoed in your actions and your powers will be compromised." His hand moves through the air in a gesture. "So the first rule is, 'never let them see you bleed'," he says, a playful smirk curling up half his mouth. "Second, 'don't compromise your beliefs'. You have to believe in what you're doing- in the rightness of it- or you'll fall flat on your face, and probably at the worst possible time."

The tingle does startle Kitty; she was expecting a normal handshake. For a moment, she pulls back, but not strongly enough to actually pull out of his grip. Her eyes dart from his to their hands and then back upward.

Perhaps she should have gathered that this was going to be a more formal ceremony from the context, but she didn't. Her response is merely a nod. It's a serious one, but still just a nod. That got intense.

The idea that the powers work on belief is a both outside of what she knows and a bit similar. "Like walking through walls. If I startled myself out of it, I'd have stuck myself into one. It took the Professor ages to get me to walk into one willingly." She frowns, thinking through it a bit. "I mean, I still get to build up the whole belief thing, right? You're not going to try and get me to lift up an X-Wing out of the swamp today or anything?"

"Nope," John says, rolling off his butt and onto his feet. "We're going to learn two skills today, and you're going to spend the next few weeks getting very frustrated that you can't do either of them." He picks up a candle from the desk, tossing it into the air and catching it, and hands it to Kitty. "You're going to learn how to light a candle with your brain."

Without John looking at it, the wick suddenly *phuts* to life, flittering between the two of them. John licks his fingers and puts the candle out with a pinch. "It's one of the first lessons we learn in moving energy. Magic obeys a lot of the laws that physics does. But before you can do anything else, you'll learn how to light this candle."

Kitty holds the candle gingerly and away from her hair when John tells her that she's going to learn how to light it with her brain. The last thing she needs is to have her hair catch fire on her first lesson. "O-kay," she says. Since she's already been told that she's going to learn how to do some impossible things and she has to believe she can do them, well, she'll do her best to keep an open mind.

"Okay, so, it's about physics. So, what, you're getting the energy from somewhere else to light the candle?" She looks at the smoking wick in her hand and frowns. "So, where does that come from? I mean, am I supposed to just believe that the candle will light and it'll light?"

"Some people do," John shrugs. "But for most of us who are trying to learn the hard way how to do it, we have to understand where that powers comes from." He moves to a spot on the floor furnished with some pillows and drops two where he and Kitty can sit facing one another.

"Energy can come from anywhere. Inside, outside, other dimensions… some people believe their power comes from God. Maybe it does. What matters is that you feel where that power comes from and you understand how to bridge it. Imagine the power-" he holds his pointed index finger out to the side, and draws channel lines across his chest- "coming down your finger, up your arm…" he traces across his chest, "and through here, and down to your belly-… then, back our your other arm, and exit to the left." He extends his other arm, fingers pointing the opposite direction. "But all the power happens in your belly, in the pit of your stomach. That's the fulcrum, the lever point," he says, his tone one of patient instruction. "You need to feel all the power moving through your body through that one point. Once you do that, you can learn how to channel it through other parts of your body."

Kitty follows Constantine and settles onto the pillows gently and crosses her legs. Like the good student she is, she listens to John as he talks, attempting to picture energy. She follows the trail that he traces through the imaginary lines of energy.

Frowning, she closes her eyes and attempts to feel it. There's a long while that she's silent. Unfortunately, she just feels exactly the same. She keeps imagining a well of energy in her stomach, but it's not there. "I just feel everything is exactly the same. I can hear my own heartbeat, but that's about it." There's another deep frown. "I mean, when I phase, I don't feel different. It just happens. It's like a switch. This isn't going to be like that, is it?"

"Shh! Not question time. Meditation time," John says, eyes closing as well. "The energy is there. It's all around us. The rocks make it. The trees make it. It flows from everything- from life and death and the burning of the sun."

John falls quiet, then, eyes shut, sitting quite still. It's oddly quiet in the House of Mystery- there's no sounds of running water, or floorboards creaking, or nails settling. No electricity or television or the hum of speakers. All that can be really heard is the guttural crackle of the fireplace behind Kitty and John's quiet breathing.

"But, what if question time is my meditation time?" Kitty replies with a huff. Though, she has done meditation before, it has never been her go to relaxation technique.

However, at the insistence of John, she closes her eyes again. Living in a school with so many people means she rarely has a moment to herself and that there is never any quiet around her. There are children laughing, yelling, running through halls. This is a completely different thing. All she can hear is the breathing of John and herself, the sound of her heartbeat, the fire. After a few minutes, her breathing levels and it sounds almost like she's asleep. But, still she doesn't feel an energy, just her own heartbeat.

"I'm not feeling anything," she says softly, a bit frustrated.


John makes Kitty sit quietly for what seems like almost an hour. Finally, he stretches, coming out of a relaxed, almost zen-like posture. "I want you to keep focusing on the energy flow. Tell me how it feels, deep in your stomach. Keep still, and breaaaaathe," he murmurs. He makes a gesture with one hand, adjusting the energy flowing around Kitty. Whether she knows it or not, she /is/ touching that power, and John momentarily vastly diverts that flow of energy, as if switching off a current of power running through a battery terminal.

At the shush, Kitty makes a frustrated sound in the back of her throat. She does not like being shushed. It's possible this is why teaching her can be quite the handful. It takes her a bit longer to get back into a relaxed place. It's easy to tell that her breathing is not at the same place it was until at least fifteen minutes into the exercise.

As Constantine's voice comes to her almost like a yoga teacher, she attempts to do what he's telling her to do. She's focusing on the energy around her, even though all she can actually feel is her heart beat and the sound of her own breathing and John's words. At some point, though, something feels off and she shifts in her position. Even if she was told to be quiet, she's not one to keep silent at a time like this.

"I'm…I'm not sure why, but something feels like it changed…"

"I cut you off from the energy in the House," John says, holding his hands out and to the side, as if resting on the bars of a gossamer cage around Kitty, eyes lidded in concentration as he stares at forces beyond her ken. "You'll be able to stop me from doing that in no time. But I want you to feel, deep down in your gut, where that energy is, and where it goes, and how it flows through you," he says, hands moving in slow semicircles. "Let me know when you feel things change again." He waits thirty seconds and then releases the flow of energy moving through the House and through Kitty, integrating her back into the energy churning through the little pocket dimension.

"Oh." That makes some sort of sense. Despite the no questions time, she can't help herself. The revelation suddenly brings forth a bunch of them that she just let's out. "So, everything has energy. Or is it just the House because this is basically like Hogwarts? And I thought I'd have to light a candle before I'd ever be able to do anything like this." Her eyes may still be closed, but she can certainly still smirk.

It takes a bit longer than thirty seconds for her to realize that things are changing and that she feels something shift again. She can feel the ends of it, the very stirrings of some sort of energy around and through her. "I think I feel something else. It's definitely different."

"Everything has energy. House is a LOT of energy packed into a little tiny space," John explains, gesturing vaguely. "You can open your eyes now."

"I wanted to see a few things. For one, focus is the most important part of this game. Some people can focus very quickly. Others take a lot of time. Practice speeds that up, but nothing substitutes for lots of diligent training. Two, I had to know if you can actually sense the energy at all. Some people can't. Some people can, without needing to focus one bit."

"Essentially, luv, you've got the Gift," John says. He rises and moves to House's front door, walking through his attached parlor space. He stops and beckons for Kitty to join him next to the door, resting a hand on the doorframe with a downcast look of faint resignation about him.

"Ah." Kitty looks at John, head tilting just slightly, opening her eyes and glancing upward. It seems like she'll be one of those people who will need the time to focus on things.

"When you say gift, I'm assuming you're not meaning like the one wrapped in paper and tends to come with a receipt." Knowing a bit about being told about differences and being a Mutant, this sounds eerily similar. "For having something, you certainly look like I just kidnapped your puppy."

Pushing herself up from the cushions on the floor, she moves toward the parlor space. "You're not going to, like, push me in here and lock me up, are you? Because that's what your face is saying."

"Call it a curse, luv," John says. He gives Kitty a grim look, then with a snap of his fingers, the massive double doors swing wide open.

And through them is something Kitty might not ever forget for the rest of her life. It's a fraction of a fraction- like looking at the sun's reflection through a sunspot lens. But it's wildly uninhibited, bursting with cataclysmic power. It's life and death and flowing power. The arrangement of the multiverse itself can almost be made out at the periphery of the gleaming singularity, in which everything that ever was and ever will be exists simultaneously, burning a hole into Kitty's brain with every second she looks into it.

"You're the one that said Gift, though," Kitty reminds him, raising a finger and almost wagging it at him.

As the doors open, she glances over. Kitty has always been a curious and lore driven woman. There was always the desire to know how things work and tick and what that means. What she sees through the door, though, floors her. She's utterly entranced for a few moments; then, despite her curiosity, she blinks her eyes and quickly glancing away from it. It's like she was looking straight at a light and someone turned it on and now she has to readjust to the brightness. Rubbing at her eyes, she turns her face away from it. "Christ on a crutch what is that?! And why do you have it in your house?"

John shuts the door the moment Kitty looks away. From his posture, he was ready to either throw her down on the ground or deck her, if needed. A look of relief crosses his craggy features.

"That was the Heart, Kitty," he says, using her name to get her attention. "Or at least, I call it that. Some people call it God, or the Metaverse, or what have you. It's … everything. I moved House outside of the universe. We saw where our world- where all worlds- intersect. Some of them are very close. Some are inaccessible. But they're all out there. Uncounted Kitty Prydes, John Constantines… some good, some bad, some dead, some … not even recongizeable. I had to know how you'd react to that. Some people go crazy," he explains, gently touching her shoulder in a surprisingly reassuring motion. "Some try to touch it. If you can look at it and it doesn't break your brain too badly, that's a generally good sign you're really ready for studying magic."

"What, you have God just living in your cupboards as if it's no big deal?!" The woman continues to rub and blink at her eyes, strangely shaken though she's not quite sure why. Even if magic is the study of belief, hearing John's explanation is something difficult to comprehend.

"You could have warned me that I was about to take a look into a big pot of crazy," she tells him, the upset still easily heard in her voice. "It's like…like, the Reavers, the Time Void and that Mathematics movie guy who put a drill to his brain all rolled into one." The reassuring hand is pulled away from.

"House isn't /anywhere/," John corrects Kitty, folding his arms across his chest. He's a bit stung by her withdrawal but he seems to understand her anger at him, his face struggling between composure and a bit of guilt. "You're looking directly at the heartbeat of the universe. My front door is just…kind of like a window. I can move the front door anywhere it needs to be. I just moved it outside the universe for a little demonstration."

"If I'd warned you, it would have ruined it. Either it would have been more than you expected, and you would have let your guard down, or it would have been less, and you wouldn't have given it a fair shake. By then, it'd have burned through your brain. You reacted purely naturally, just the way you were supposed to- you made yourself look away."

Finally, Kitty looks up at John. She still blinks her eyes a few more times as she attempts to adjust to the relative darkness of the room compared to the bright light of…whatever it was she was just exposed to, but she seems to be more or less the same, if rattled. "I'm going to need to watch more movies to reference all the stuff I've been seeing here," she mutters. "'Cause I think I already used Howl's Moving Castle the last time I was here." And she's definitely used TARDIS before.

Though she can tell he's a bit stung by her sudden step away, she doesn't move any further away. Her natural defense mechanism would have been to phase away from him and get as far away as possible. This was just a moment of anger and frustration. A stubborn woman, that part hasn't completely faded away just yet, either. "I mean, just a second of 'Oh, by the way, what I'm about to open the door to might drive you crazy' might have been helpful," she mutters stubbornly.

"So, am I going to start hearing the sound of drums at some point? It doesn't have any residual effects or anything, right?"

John shakes his head. "No. Well. Probably no," he amends. "I mean, I did warn you about going mad. Having seen and touched Source now, you're ripe for all kinds of entities. Most of them won't give a flip, as you're relatively small fry. You might attract a mane or a midge, but at most those might give you a wicked headache or knock some things off a shelf."

"You're going to have to accept that this process is going to be a largely unpleasant one, luv," John says in a wry tone, notes of self-deprecation tainting the bitter humor. "You might even start hating me. Most apprentices do. This isn't just about acquiring knowledge. I have to beat your magical muscles into shape," he says, sounding genuinly sympathetic. With the barriers slowly coming down, for the first time, John actually appears human, not some towering, bitter figure of magic and drunken anger. "If I hurt you now, I might save your life later. I'd rather you spend a few centuries hating me than a mean half-decade of life thinking I'm a kind, friendly fellow."

"I have no idea what a mane or a midge is, so I guess there's also research to be done," Kitty sighs. As long as it doesn't hurt the school, well, then, she can take some falling books and a headache.

The whole process being a rather unpleasant one is met with a frown and a shrug. She did, after all, make a deal with him to learn this. "Possible. I tend to argue and sometimes yell at people I disagree with." Not always the most pleasant of traits, but she's a stubborn woman who sticks by her ideals. Thinking of John as her magical personal trainer grants him a smirk. For some reason, after Xavier's, her teachers tend to be grumpy older men who drink a lot of scotch. "I mean, I'm not about to live centuries. Not unless this place really can Time Travel."

John waves off the question of minor demons for the moment. "You actually might, barring getting killed. Which happens a lot," John admits after a moment of hesitation. "How old do you think I am, Kitty?" he asks. Depending on the lighting and his mood, John's looks range from his thirties to early forties, though they're hard-looking years. "On paper I'm in my forties. If you start calculating all the years I've spent outside the normal timestream, I'm pushing my sixties. Maybe older- I've honestly lost count. Touching the Source doesn't have many perks, but one of them is that you will live longer, and be healthier for more of those years," he explains. Speaking of scotch, as if parched from all the conversation, he walks back into the parlor and goes to his liquor cabinet, rummaging through to the back where his particularly rare and non-replaceable scotches tend to accumulate.

"Uh what?" Kitty raises an eyebrow at the idea of living longer than her (what she hopes) will be hundred years. She already lives something of a violent life, so the idea of getting killed before her time isn't new to her.

The question of his age is given a raised eyebrow. "I was about to say, I think this is a trap. I was just going to say 29 and be done with it." Easier to be nice on the age front than mean. After all, Logan looks like he's thirty-something and yet he's hundreds of years old. She follows him toward the back of the parlor, eager to be away from the front door for now. "Huh," is all she can really say about living longer. That's certainly not anything she ever expected.

"There are lots of little perks," John says with another deprecating smirk, finding a truly ancient bottle of Glenmorangie and two glasses. He pours himself one and sets the bottle and other glass where Kitty can get to it if she's so inclined, and moves to his favorite old leather chair, a rumpled looking thing that's somewhere between a recliner and a loveseat and must be from the thirties.

"They can be different for some people. Noises and sights are by far the most common ones. You'll see shadows for what they are. You'll see fae /everywhere/, almost certainly." He scratches the side of his nose, sipping more of his scotch. "Some people develop a knack for seeing through the walls of reality, or communing with different beings. Do let me know if anything starts taking a particular interest in you, though. They're not all friendly spirit guides."

After just staring into a Vortex, a drink is certainly something Kitty wants. She pours herself a generous portion and takes a goodly swig of it. Then, she moves to sit by John. Though she pulled away from his comforting hand just moments ago, it seems that all is mostly forgiven.

"See, I asked about fairy wings earlier and you practically scoffed at me," she tells him with a bit of a teasing tone. "I'll be sure to keep a look out. If there's one thing I'm used to by now, it's seeing people as others don't." It's a knack that mutants tend to have; it helps in finding and trusting other people like them. She's not sure any of those things will ever actually happen, but she'll keep a look out.

Holding her glass out to him in something like a cheers she shrugs and smiles. "At the very least, we should cheers."

John aborts a sip to clink glasses with Kitty. "The last time I had someone studying under me was Zatanna," John says with a wry expression, focus turning inwards. He scoots over a hair so Kitty can sit on the chair too, though it's a bit tight. "She had some moments where it was touch and go, but she's turned into a world-class wizard. I've got a feeling you've got the same sort of potential."

He leans back in the seat, resting his shoulders against the plush chair, and looks at Kitty's profile. "You've got a leg up in a lot of ways over your average apprentice. I think your time with Xavier's little, uh, boarding school will help you quite a bit."

"I have a feeling that dealing with magic would be a bit touch and go there. Unless it's all pulling rabbits out of hats and you've just pulled a really good illusion on me." Her own potential is given a shrug. "We'll see. I'm not looking to be a world-class anything magic-wise. I'd just be glad to be able to watch mine and my friends' backs."

An eyebrow raises as he mentions Zatanna. "Oh, I know her. She's very nice. And, you're right, very gifted with magic. I didn't now she trained with you. I'll have to ask her for some pointers." She grins.

"You do that," John nods. "Zatanna's stayed relatively sane throughout all this. Me, I'm a bitter old drunk. Good teacher but lousy role model." He touches glasses with Kitty and, resting a hand on her shoulder for leverage, gets to his feet.

"I think you should stay here tonight. I've unlocked some paths around House. Your color is blue," he says, touching a rune on the doorframe. It glows a faint blue, and a steady line of light appears on the floor under Kitty's feet. "You've got a room upstairs. You can go in the library if you want, but don't touch anything on the red shelves. Don't go wandering, don't go exploring, and ask House for anything you need. If you have nightmares…" he trails off. "Well, don't go making deals with anything, anyway," he says with a shrug. "Night, Kitty. Tomorrow the real work starts." And with that, John Constantine heads out of the parlor and towards his rooms on the far side of the grand stairway, a look of concern and resignation crossing his features once his back is to the phase-shifting mutant.

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