House Hunting With Constantine

December 17, 2016:

John's brief visit to the United States becomes more a permanent affair as complications arise. He decides it's long past time to trade up in living spaces.

New York City

The city that never sleeps.


NPCs: Chas Chandler, nameless occult broker

Mentions: Zatanna Zatara

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The first flat they looked at was on the thirteenth floor of an apartment building. The elevator doors weren't even open before John knew he wasn't setting foot outside of them, and they'd slid noiselessly open to reveal the kind of blue-light, black-shadow stage dressing that plays prelude to every horror movie ever made — certainly all of the ones he'd ever starred in himself, without ever a camera to be found. The mundane flickering of the discolored flourescents in the elevator withered into a sickly unradience and died before penetrating even an inch of the gloom.

"So as you can see, Mr. Constantine," said the broker beside him, clipboard held up against his Brooks Brothers lapels in flawlessly manicured hands, "It has, as you specifically requested, an unusually large amount of latent magic—"

"I think the asking price on this one is a little high for my liking," John says, rolling his shoulders to distract from the sensation of his skin sliming over his own bones.

The broker thumbs the button to close the doors. "Of course, I understand. Well, we have plenty of other options."

New York City was crammed full of occult boltholes, as one might expect of one of the most diverse metropolises on the face of the earth. Any hedge mage or petty dabbler would find more than enough options to satisfy, and still be able to live within walking distance of their favorite Whole Foods. Most of them didn't have John's budget. Probably none of them had his needs.

They passed through Chinatown next. The building wasn't new but it had been gutted inside-to-out in the last five years. The interior had that spotless, new-paint feel, only just beginning to succumb to the grime of the city being tracked indoors by the residents. Eight floors up, the broker let John into an apartment that seemed to fall beyond the spectrum of known strangeness, in that remote land where granite counter tops and stainless steel fixtures were low-tier design choices. His footsteps had echoed off of sparkling veneer floors, ringing through hollow rooms, until he'd reached the bedroom, and caught sight of something red through the cold-fogged window.

He'd strolled over, unlatched it, and pushed it up to see a potted tree sitting on the fire escape. Thick red threads had been tied around the anemic trunk, long ends trailing off into nothingness. There were molding lottery tickets in the planter.

"No," he'd told the broker, striding past him and back the way they'd came. "No, no, no. And you can't sell a flat that someone's already living in."

Living in may not have been the right way to put it, but still: John hadn't been looking for a roommate. Not even a lucky one.

There had been a trip into Bed-Stuy to see a loft rumored to be located on the site of a ley line intersection (false advertising), a small rent-controlled building once owned by the Long Island serial killer (which may have been true, but if so, nothing of any magical significance had ever taken place on the property), and an uptown suite buried in the basement of The Cloisters, where John Rockefeller had made his deals with the devil, and filmmaker Maya Deren oversaw Voudoun ceremonies and produced experimental films that to this day weakened the veil between realities. Authorities would mistake the cause of her death in the early sixties as being due to 'brain hemhorrage.' John knew better.

That place had some real promise. The moment he walked in he could feel it, like refrigerated, electrified silk drifting weightlessly over his bare skin, though he was clothed from head to foot. It had been too exposed for him, though, long since incorporated into the Museum of Modern Art. He needed some privacy for his comings and goings, and could not be bothered to maintain any illusion on a scale grand enough to provide it.

"Find me something like this," he'd said to the broker, spinning in a slow circle in that nexus of power, "But bigger. Secret. And more."

"That kind of thing is…well, it's…"

"Expensive? I'm sorry — have we met? I'm John bloody Constantine."

"…right. Well, I'll call the office."


The moment they set foot in the next listing, John knew it was the one. Knew it down to his bones, the way he knows which nag is going to win a race against all odds. He stood in the cavernous space and let the efferverscing tingle of power pass through his limbs like ghostly champagne bubbles. He held his hands extended slightly away from his sides, fingers playing the tactile sensation of it. "Sewer, you said."

"Or abandoned subway station. It's not always easy to tell. There were a lot of efforts to construct beneath the city early on that were abandoned partway through as money ran out or zoning changes were made. This area got lost somewhere along the way, left off of city planning maps. Maybe during Prohibition. Everyone was on the take, it would've been easy enough to arrange for that. Booze runners, perhaps, or something else."

"My money's on 'something else,'" murmured John.

Power, yes. Reams of it. But not wild power, not tainted power, just the sense that there was a wellspring underfoot, a source, bubbling up from beneath the skin of the world.

And the space itself, it was— it was large, but not so large as to make it impossible to manage. Big enough to begin setting up shop on a more permanent basis. Big enough to house he and Chas—

"I need you in New York."
"What? John…"
"Really, mate. I wouldn't ask if I didn't."
"Something's coming. Something big. But I need you before that, alright? I've got a situation that's— I need an extra pair of hands."
"I've got to capture a bloke who's cutting deals with Mammon." John heard Chas sigh on the other end of the line, and when he didn't say anything else, John added, "'tanna's involved."
"That's dirty pool, John."
"It's also true."
Muffled cussing. "Pick me up at LaGuardia tomorrow."
"'atta boy, Chas. Ta."

—and a load of equipment and supplies, magical and otherwise. It was buried deep underground but it had multiple ways in and out, each narrow enough to be easy to conceal and ward. It was probably already bomb-proof, but he could make it boogeyman-proof in twelve hours or less. And he would need to: he needed a containment cell for Muller.

Well, it was good to have a fully warded cell hanging about for a lot of reasons, wasn't it? He'd learned that the hard way. Good for keeping things in…or out.

"I'll take it."

Three hours later, it belonged to him. There weren't any papers to sign. This market did not work on the dollar. It was down to a retooling of the concept of Ownership, the very essence of the thing. The energies in the space were fork-tuned to his own peculiar signature of power, and now it belonged to him the way that his hands belonged to him.

Cost him a pretty fucking penny, though. He made light of the whole process, but his chest ached around a hollow feeling, like his sternum might collapse on a tiny black hole in residence behind it. One week of his connection with Synchronicity energy, one week of the thing that made him so goddamn difficult to kill. Not this week, or next week — but John had been informed that the brokerage would be coming to collect eventually. He'd offered them his services instead, but somebody in management had known more about him than he'd expected, and they'd gone straight for the good stuff.

Whatever. There wasn't any sense in worrying about it. That was for later.

For now, he had some moving in to do.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License