We Keep Meeting Like This

May 18, 2016:

Sara Pezzini catches John Constantine with loose demons…again.

New Troy - Metropolis

"1930's architecture stretched like a rubber band."

New Troy is the largest borough in Metropolis and is where all of the main
city life seems to be established as well as take place. Here is where you
will find skyscrapers that reach the heavens and commerce that spreads as
far as the next business that picks up.

The heartbeat, lifeblood, and veins of The Big Apricot.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

"Blimey, it's always rutting negawraiths, and when it isn't negawraiths, it's flippin' Baatorians!" John says. He's swearing almost nonstop, which is impressive considering how fast he's running. For a skinny, pale British bloke, he's covering a lot of ground quickly.

Not quickly enough, because a dozen demons are swarming towards him. Fast. And furiously. They bear heavy scimitar-style blades in their hands, made of bone or dense chitin, and are barely humanoid in appearance— reverse jointed knees, over-long, over-muscled arms, and running almost bent double so their brutish chests brush the ground.

John digs in his pockets and comes up with a length of wire, a short crystal rod, and a piece of mink fur. He twists them in his hands, mumbling breathlessly, and then whips his head around and turns to fling the jumble of junk in his hand forward.

There's a *CRRK-THUMPH* and a sizzling bolt of lightning explodes from the crystal, shattering it, and branching out in a series of explosive forkings. It takes two demons full in the chest, slaying them outright, but the crackling electricity crawls like a living thing and finds more interesting points— cars and lights and lanterns— and disappears into the earth, leaving the others singed and furious.

"Bollocks," John mutters, turning to flee again. With chest-shaking roars of rage, the demons are on after him again!

There's some irony in Sara's life. She left the NYPD for SHIELD in the interest of not having to hide the Witchblade. After a few months hunting down leads on an illegal ring of artifact dealers out of London, though, it's been back to basically business as usual. Paperwork. Interviews. Research. Boring things. And while she's been spending time getting familiar with the 'blade itself as well, she's been short of some of the excitement.

So when she gets that tingling in the back of her mind? The one where the Witchblade is trying to warn her about something? She goes out looking for it. Which is how she ended up on a rooftop just down the block from Constantine and his pursuers in full armor, eyes glowing amber in the darkness. "Bad day for you, boys," she murmurs with a wolfish grin, leaping down between the demons and Constantine on the strength of wings made of armor.

John's got great luck, or Sara's got great timing, or both, because the nearest demon is about a handsbreadth from landing atop his back when Sara slams full into it. The beast is tremendously strong, horns whipping around in pain— but they're a bit slow on agility, particularly compared to the effortless dexterity of the true wielder of the Witchblade. The lead one crashes hard into the ground and the one right behind him roars and hefts his bone blade, swinging it hard at Sara with a huge, double-handed overhead swipe and enough power behind the blow to cut a car in half.

"Constantine," Sara says as a blade sprouts in one hand, wide, curved, and braced against her forearm in addition to the length of the blade itself. "We have really got to stop meeting like this." Her free hand digs into the back of the demon she landed on, holding it in place with barbed gauntlet fingertips, as she twists to meet the other demon's strike with the edge of her blade, guiding it down onto the first demon rather than take the full force of it.

"Pez. Ditched the chainmail bikini again, eh?" John grunts with all the aplomb he can muster, for a man sprawled on the ground and tangled in his coattails. He kicks himself loose and digs in this pocket, then that one, then the other one, and comes up with a battered old butler's derringer in one hand. He cocks the hammer and aims it from the elbow, just as a slavering set of jaws rears at him.

The report of the round going off is something like a cannon, blasting windows out, and what looks like a billion beams of sunlight lances from the barrel of the tiny derringer. It blasts the demon through and through with a circle the size of a rain barrel, and continues off into the stratosphere.

"Also, you never return my calls," John quips, into the ringing silence.

"I have a guttural reaction to the sound of a British accent." Sara lets the second demon take care of the first, then slices across its tendon with her blade, spinning to the side on one knee. "I hear it and I immediate hang up because I can tell there's going to be nothing good coming out of it." The chainmail bikini look is definitely out at the moment. Indeed, her armor looks like it could take on a dragon, though the flexibility is impressive. "What'd you say to these guys?"

"I don't think that word means what you think it means," John grunts at Sara, scrambling to his feet and backing up. What smells like burning incense and oak ash spills from the derringer, which he swiftly pockets and starts patting himself down for his next little gadget. "As a Brit, I speak proper English. If anyone's slinging vulgar gutter language, it's you bloody Yanks."

"Second, that's a bloody lie. You love my accent and you know what a wild time we have." He gets out a handkerchief and flicks it at a charging demon— it expands into a soft, pillowy sheet the size of a sailboat mast, and wraps around the attacker quite thoroughly. It settles to the ground in rippling folds… and is empty. Or at least utterly flattened.

"Third, I didn't say anything. I… might have botched an incantation and they thought I had this bloody shard of their demigod, and… look, mistakes were made," he says, sourly, trying to find his next little solution up his sleeve.

"Oh, okay, Henry Higgins," Sara smirks, coming up behind the demon she's been taking pieces out of to simply thrust her hand through its chest, a ball of light expanding from the palm of her hand as she does. "I guess I won't tell you what I heard about your accent when I was in London." Hey, at least she's not yelling at him for bringing demons across to this side of things. That's progress, right?

"Make light all you want, but of the two of us, I'm—" he pauses a beat, grabbing a series of Buddhist prayer beads from another pocket and mumbling over them. He makes a series of deliberately slow, graceful gestures, and the last three demons suddenly slow quite dramatically, as if running through heavy, deep water and unable to gain real speed.

"—the only one who had panties tossed at him on stage in Dublin. Last three are all yours, Pez, do be a good lass and give them the old one-two," John says, cheerily.

"By which you mean you're out of ammo?" Sara smirks over her shoulder at the mage, a pair of blades springing to her hands as she throws them out to her side. "Don't worry. I can handle this." Bracing herself, she springs off of the pavement toward the remaining demons, the first blade taking the head off of one while the second guts another. Which leaves just one more demon to deal with. As the bodies fall, Sara turns, holding out a hand toward the last demon. A wrist-thick beam of light burst from her palm, cutting through the demon and turning it to shimmering ash.

"No such thing. I just like watching you work," John assures Sara, with as much wide-eyed sincerity as the Brit can muster. Which is not inconsiderable, and utterly ruined by the wholly lecherous manner with which he regards Sara's martial dance as she systematically destroys the last of the demon incursion. The beasts fall to her blade and fade swiftly into so much smoking brimstone and charred flesh, their burning bodies unable to sustain themselves without the ravening demonic souls to support them.

"You know, I can see where that might actually be charming to some people," Sara chuckles, turning back to Constantine as the armor fades away until it's just a bracelet again. Sadly for John, underneath it all there's nothing fancy. Just plain business slacks, a button-down shirt, and a blazer. SHIELD-agent chic. Although the bracelet doesn't exactly go. "You know, I used to worry that this thing was going to get me killed one day, but then I keep running into you and you keep being alive, and it gives me hope," she says with mock cheer.

"Does me well," John says with a flashing, debonaire grin. "And I don't even have those inhuman pectorals."

His smile flickers a little and turns a bit wry— dark, even— and one narrow shoulder drops in a shrug. "Near as I've read, it'll keep you alive forever until you get sloppy and get killed," John tells Sara. "Then it'll find the next bearer, if you've not passed it on. Same thing happened with Excaliber, you know— they didn't chuck it in that rock for no reason. Unworthy men tried to wield it and it kept cutting them instead of their foes. Practically a magical condom, really," John says, with vast irreverence for one of the holiest icons of the Chuch of England.

"Likely you're going to keep popping in when I need you though," he tells Sara. "Mostly because it's damned convenient, and it's nice knowing you'll always come running when I'm in over my head."

"I'd feel a hell of a lot better if I knew there was a rock I could stick it in when I was done," Sara says ruefully, shaking her head. "Sometimes I feel like the biggest reason I keep working to hold on to it is so it doesn't end up in the wrong hands. Although it takes pretty good care of itself like that. You should've seen the guys who tried right before I ended up with it. Burned up, bloody stumps…" She clears her throat. "Anyhow. Don't diss the inhuman pecs. What were you planning on doing with those things anyhow?"

"Same thing I always do. Steal their toys and bluff my way out," John quips, circling around Sara and deliberately flaunting the bubble of her personal proximity. He wiggles his brows at her suggestively and starts poking demon ash with his toe, searching for any remainder.

"Mostly these blighters were siphoning energy from a demesne of a mate of mine. I owed him a favor. Thought I'd nick their nexus while I was out messing with their magics. Things went a bit caddywhompus and the feedback erupted in my own circle. I thought it was a midge or an imp, but they sent through seven bloody Baatorian knights. That's what you get when you don't check your work," he reminds Sara. "'Quesh' looks like 'Imrl' and then if you turn your 'Pqs' into 'Umb~', you're right and proper screwd. So I beat feet and thought I'd see if anyone was nearby."

"I'm going to assume those things are in a different alphabet, because I know jack about spells and they don't sound the same to me," Sara drawls, hands in her pockets with an amused smile. "Granted, usually once I hear chanting, it means I'm out of time for figuring things out and it's time to go in guns blazing. Figuratively speaking." She steps around him, peering down the street in the direction he came from. "How much property damage are we looking at?"

"You don't know Enochian?" John asks, brows lifting. "Blimey, I figured the damn gauntlet would insist you get at least a basic education in runes. It's the language of God, you know," he tells her. "Demons use basically the same thing, though they call it the Heltongue and just mangle their vowels up. Blighters don't have a proper sense of consonants without tongues or proper mandibles." He clicks his jaw at her several times, pointedly. "But they can't resist it when they hear it."

He looks around at the scorched earth, the broken cars, the screaming people and the trail of destruction following him for a solid two blocks, and shrugs at Sara. "No idea. Take it out of my paycheck."

"Oh, no," Sara shakes her head at the language talk. "I already made a nice sore spot with Steve over the whole theology thing. No way am I getting into the relationship between the Angelus and angels and the rest of religion. There's a reason they call it faith. It all works a hell of a lot better when you don't think too hard about it." Eyeing the destruction, she grimaces, sighing. "Well. I'll put in a call to WAND, let them know it was a supernatural thing. At least no one normal'll get blamed for it."

"Well, you shouldn't be walking around with the bloody Witchblade on your arm if you don't want to take sides," John points out, sourly. "It's a bit late to play Switzerland, you know." He moves back over to Sara, jamming his hands into his pockets of his duster and coming up with a cigarette and lighter. He cups fire in his palm and starts puffing merrily away, smoke billowing around him. "You look good, Pez. I'm glad to see you're back in the rotation."

"Excuse me?" Sara laughs out of sheer surprise. "It's called the Balance for a reason, Constantine, the whole point is to not take sides. But thanks," she nods, taking the hand with the bracelet out of her pocket to give it a look. "Sort of spent the first year or two trying to run from it, then the next couple years trying to hide it. Seems like when I finally accepted it was part of my life, we started to come to a sort of…agreement. Been picking up some new tricks lately."

"Screw the Balance," John snorts. "Game of tiddlywinks between God and Satan, and we're getting bent over both ways by hungry demons and bored angels. Balance is for the bookies. If we're stuck being pawns, I saw let's cheat and move diagonally whenever possible and sneak across the board when people are looking and get… kinged? Queened? Queened," he confirms, thinking about it.

"You seem to be thinking of balance as helping both sides," Sara smirks. "Lately, I'm pretty sure it's more like making sure neither of them steps too far out of line. The demons try to cross over here? Then I send them back where they came from. The Angelus tries to take their fight to the streets? Then I send them back where they came from. It's been…oddly quiet lately," she admits, shrugging. "Maybe the Darkness decided to set up shop somewhere else for a while."

"I think of the Balance as a game between two children with nothing better to do," John corrects Sara. "And because helping the Balance is playing into their game, I refuse to have anything to do with it. So I banish demons and angels alike. Bastards can all go screw in some celestial garden until the apocalypse, and I'd be quite well rid of the lot."

"You're not wrong," Sara shrugs. "But it's part of what makes the world turn. And I live here. All my stuff's here. And a whole bunch of people who really don't have anything to do with all of it live here and deserve to do it without getting screwed with by something they can't handle themselves. So. I keep up the fight."

"Too much the optimist, Pez," John snorts. "Few more decades in this game will cure you of that. Well, cheerio," he offers, tipping an imaginary hat. "I'm off, I suppose. Best get to the pub and grab a stool for chorus tonight. If you fancy a proper Irish caterwaul, Flannigan's is open soon. Nice to see you for a pint. But… if not, it's nice to see you, regardless." He winks at Sara and disappears into the milling crowd of onlookers, just as WAND's sirens can be heard.

"Few more decades," Sara laughs. "Constantine, if I get a few more decades, I think I set a record. But it's a nice thought." Before she can make any comment on the drinks, he's gone, and she's got another round of paperwork to be seen to. "Well," she sighs to the ashes. "At least we got to have a little fun first."

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