Holding Down the Fort

January 11, 2017:

Absolutely not worried about Zatanna Zatara's condition, Peter Quill manages to work a tablet and calls her with Rocket and Groot while she is under quarantine in John Constantine's bunker.

Brooklyn and Shadowcrest

This is a video call.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: John Constantine, Chas Chandler, The Winter Soldier, Dr. Jane Foster, Tim Drake, Jessica Jones, Thor

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Its been awhile since the part. Awhile since the last time Peter Quill had seen the owner of the house that the irredeamable Guardians of the Galaxy had been staying at.

…well at this point its a little more like taken over…

Anyway! The leader of the Guardians, at least the guy that calls himself the leader no matter how much Rocket shouts at him, has been slightly worried. Well worried between fighting off evil ninja turtle paper people, trying to figure out a robot, going to IKEA, meetin Six, hitting on mutants, taking girls out…

Important Star-lord business. You know how it is.

But now he's gotten back around to wondering just where the woman has got too. Espicially since well. She's hot. And this is her house. And someone was trying to kill her.

The last bit was the important one.

So Quill had decided to call upon his unbeatable mechanic to…help him figure out how to videophone with terran tech.

I mean he could totally figure it out if he wanted too but Rocket might walk to talk to her too. He's just being considerate.

"Alright…" Quill mutters half to himself and half to the explosive expert as he dialed in Zee's number on the high-tech tablet that he has set up in the living room of her very impressive mannor.

"Lets fire this thing up and see if it works. You sure its gonna project her picture if she picks up?" A pause. "…you could totally use this to spy on people couldn't you?"

The room itself is in…a state of mostly repair. Though there is a new sofa pushed up against the wall behind them.

Its from IKEA. And though nice black later? Totally doesn't fit with the home's rustic athestic.

—-

For the record, Rocket had no idea that anyone was trying to kill Zee. If he did, he probably would have thought to look for her a lot sooner! As it's been so long, he's figured she's just gone and taken a vacation away from all the crazies in her house. Rich people stuff.

"If you could hack into the other end to toggle their cameras, yeah- sure. You totally could," he confirms as he folds his arms. "And it's not gonna /project/ her picture- these Terrans don't have holos. Lame, right? But it'll be standard video imagery. I don't think this screen can do anything more anyway." He pauses, fixing Quill with a look. "So why do you need me here again? It's simple to use- even Groot can use one'a these things. I think Kitty's dragon-thing showed him."

That's right Star-Lord. Even Lockheed can figure out how to use a tablet.

—-

Somewhere in New York is a young magician going absolutely stir crazy at being trapped in a magical bunker with, literally, nowhere to go.

John and Chas were out, though they would probably return shortly, which leaves Zatanna Zatara with absolutely no company but the books and the punching bag that she has magicked into the vacant space close to the back, near her nullification chamber. Dressed in workout clothes - a black tanktop, yoga pants, socks and sneakers, she has protective wraps around her knuckles, realigning her center of gravity by keeping her knees loosely bent, her fists up in guard position. There is only so much studying a girl can do and in an enclosed space, far away from her other friends, it was even more imperative that she engage herself before she caused even /more/ trouble, like going outside. She promised.

It was tempting, though.

/But she promised/.

The outside world calls to her like a siren song. She has never known stability in her entire life and on top of her other less desirable personality foibles - her temper, her recklessness - her wanderlust was nigh-near uncontrollable.

So, this. A punching bag, to flail her fists at to bleed out both energy and frustration. That, and it was a good workout, God knows her newfound path to /celibacy/ certainly wasn't doing her any favors. Nowhere to go, because she can't, and nobody to screw, because she also can't, she is, basically, living Peter Quill's worst nightmare.

Though speak of the Devil and he comes calling. Always.

Her laptop emits the sound of an incoming call, and Zatanna reaches out to stop the bag from swinging. Moving over to the keyboard, yanking a waiting towel off the chair, she peers at the incoming number. It looks familiar.

Good enough. She taps the button for Answer.

Ice-blue eyes set on a face glowing with perspiration peer at Star-Lord. There's a blink.

"Peter!" she greets, a grin curling up on the corners of her mouth. "What's new?"

—-

"Look, I could figure it out just fine. I just wanted you here to if I need consultation on how to properly explode something." Quill's reply is absent minded. "And no holos. This really is a backwater. You should upgrade Zee's phone after this. And this tablet." He doesn't seem to care that it might draw attention.

Of course he doesn't.

His own lips curve into a returned smile. "Nice! There you are, Zee. Been missing you here at your house. No one to yell at me for drinking milk out of the carton. Glad to see no one succeeded in killing you and all."

A pause. Then those lazy blues of his travel towards Rocket. "Oh yeah. Someone was trying to kill her."

And back to Zee again.

The man looks relaxed as he usually does, but a slight bit of hidden tension eases out of his shoulders as he settles back in the chair. He totally wasn't worried. See. Look at him being totally not worried.

"Anyway! Since someone was trying to make your life miserable wanted to check in with you." A pause. "Oh and did you hear anything about Princess Science? I was gonna go back to her place, but…after I met Captain Pajama pants I figure if I try I'll get arrested."

—-

"Oh yeah, sure. I'll add a warp pad and a shield deflector around the mansion while I'm at it," Rocket shoots back, flatly. "Just where'm I gonna find the tech for that?! Even the bombs I've been putting together don't have enough yield to level a city block!" Beat. "Oh hey Zee."

And Quill is as informative as ever. Rocket stares at him, and then gawks before swatting the man upside the head. "What, /seriously/! You're just telling me that now?! Quill you really needa get your priorities for info straight!"

He's not even going to ask about who Captain Pajama-Pants is.

—-

Off to the side, Groot has been sitting quietly, large hands resting on top of his knobby bark knees as his eyes are glued to the television screen somewhere in the mess the Guardians have created. He's been so absorbed in the movie, slowly realizing that Quill has been speaking to their hostess while explaining a few things to Rocket. As usual.

His new IKEA sofa is also just so comfortable.

ANYWAY.

Catching the last parts of the conversation, the tree shifts in his seat, chewing idly on a flower that seems to have sprouted out of the side of his face. "I am Groot?"

—-

"Hey Rocket! Hey Groot!" Zatanna seems cheerful enough despite her predicament, wiping her face with a towel as she leans over the desk in which the laptop sits. Wherever she is, it looks like a well-furnished basement, though the odd /cell/ behind her most definitely has bars, and the space itself emits a warm, golden glow from vintage lightbulbs. It looks like a bunker of some kind, but the young woman is, at the very least, safe and alive. The network of glowing blue-white arcane symbols on her left arm do not look as intact as the last time Peter Quill has seen it; most of the protections on her forearm are gone, and the rest of it have bare patches of skin visible from under her elbow to her shoulder, the consequence of having to compromise them to prevent herself from getting erased from existence just very recently.

Peter's indelicate aside has her wincing visibly, though she waves a hand. "It's alright, Rocket, I'm sure it'll be alright. That's why I haven't been home - I'm staying with a friend, he built something so it won't be easy to rip my soul out with a curse and so long as I stay in it, I'll be fine. That does mean you guys have to take care of Shadowcrest while I'm gone. Hopefully this'll be resolved soon, though God only knows what other trouble that's going to open up though."

Mention of Jane has her shaking her head. "Dr. Fos— Jane is okay. She's alive. I was asked not to tell anyone where she is though. I'm sorry Peter." And she does mean that. "But she's well taken care of, I promise."

—-

"Shield deflector might not be a horrible idea espicially if those damn Saskarians show up here. I mean come on, there has to be someone to use. Maybe Pepper or Kinsey know where we can get some more high tech stu—" A pause. Quill blinks. "Brain storm. We find the Saskarian's ship and take their stuff. Perfect. We can do that later."

…wait there are Saskarians looking for them on Terra? This might be another one of those priority things.

Well he told Groot about it!

He returns his attention to the woman on the screen though and nods slowly. Sharp eyes trained by more than a decade of gunslining take in the enviroment behind her. The picture is small, the image is a bit grainy, but it looks secure enough. Thats another load off. As she starts to explain though his face scrunches up into a wince. "Thats good about Jane, not that I really care. But that Bucky guy helped us out with the sofa we picked up, and I think if anything happened to her he'd be a crier. Would be horrible to see." A pause. "Or shoot everything in sight, almost as bad. Anyway hell, thats gotta be the most boring of all the boring things. You clawing your way up the walls yet—"

Thwack!

"Geeze Rocket! She's fine! I figured she was a big girl and if she needed our help she'd ask for it!" A pause before he looks back towards the woman. "…do you need our help? I mean Rocket here hasn't blown anything up for at least…two…three days. He'd be happy to help."

—-

Rocket sighs as he looks at the screen. "Glad you're taking somethin' like that so well," he mutters. "But really, /rip your soul out???/ Curses?! What in the world do you get up to anyway?!?" It's no wonder she took them in, only some crazy person with a penchant for trouble would let space invaders camp out at their place.

And then Quill drops another happy bit of information that just has the poor raccoon run his hands down his face. "I will talk more on that with you /later/," he growls, and it sounds like a threat. Because while it sounds fun, he's mad at getting this intel in afterthought.

Glancing at Groot, Rocket just gives his friend a nod. "I know, right? What is wrong with people around here?" Well, maybe they were just like him and used to people being out for his head. But never trying to rip out his soul, I mean /come on/!!

"Quill, shut up," he snaps. "Zee- if you have anything or anyone that needs blowing up I will be oh so happy to do so and NOT because Star-flarkin'-Lord here suggested it."

—-

If the Star Lord did impart this information on his tree friend, the tree friend might have forgotten about it. Fortunately, it was all still fresh in his memory. That and the noodles they had the other night. Those were delicious.

Groot waves back at the image of Zatanna. "I am Groot!" It's so nice to see her, but with those little details in the background, he finally pieces together the rest of the conversation.

He glances back at Rocket, his look of puzzlement transitions into a thoughtful frown. "I am Groot," he says in a low, almost disapproving tone. "I am Groot."

—-

"You know hilariously, that was my first thought also. If anything happened to Jane, Bucky would destroy New York and I thought it was probably a good idea to prevent it from happening," Zatanna quips. "In all seriousness though, it sounded like she was helping him just like I was, and he spoke of her so gently when he mentioned it despite his….strangeness, so I thought I should probably make sure she was fine. And she is. So don't worry about her for now, yeah?"

Finishing her towel, she folds it up on the table and picks up her water bottle, cracking it open and beaming at Rocket, her expression all soft, warm affection. Taking a swig, she wipes her mouth against the back of her hand, using it to prop her chin up as she leans further into the table. "Wait, so you guys are that worried? Oh, you guys, I'm sorry….I didn't mean to." She's been apologizing for this lately and it shows, the look of her borders on sheepish. "Chances are there'll be more things…to blow up soon considering the rate things are going. The guy Peter fought during the New Year's Eve gala managed to get in contact with other associates. They knew Daddy and a friend of mine were involved, so they took a piece of me by attacking a friend of mine on campus, fully expecting me to defend him, which I did. Hanussen was hoping he could pit Daddy and John against each other by holding me hostage, essentially. He's….we think he flew back to Germany. Maybe. John will confirm whether he's flown the coop soon."

A more serious expression falls on her face.

"John seems convinced that something huge is happening but we don't know what yet, that and we still don't have a line on whoever has my blood. So if you guys….see anything weird, let me know, okay?" Her brows pull down in the middle, furrowing faintly. "Wait….what's a Saskarian? What happened?"

—-

"I was gonna tell ya about em when Groot and I found their lair," Quill replies with a smirk. "And we didn't find em yet. So…don't worry about it." This comment hissed towards Rocket before his gaze goes back towards Zee.

He reaches out of view for a second before his hand returns with a glass of something amber colored and likely very good and very alcholoic. "Well, we arn't really good at curses and soul-ripping. We /are/ pretty good at blowing things up though. That guy at the party took a hell of a lot of damage and it didn't look like it bothered him that much till the end. Not sure even Rocket could make up something that could take him down in one shot."

Zee can see it, the twitch of the smile. The touch of mischief in his eyes. He's poking fun at the volitile Raccoon. Which…considering that he's sitting within arms reach and /also/ sitting on a bomb of some kind might be dangerous. Quill though likes to live dangerously.

Its just his nature.

"As for the Saskarian, you let us worry about that. They happen to be from our neck of the woods. Must have followed us here after we atomised their boss. They tried to jump Jess, and that…ended very badly for them. Everyone is just fine though, so don't you worry about that."

A pause.

"…and uh…this /house/ is pretty frackin' weird! Its got a guy that talks in pictures and a sentient bird head. But…I guess we'll keep our eyes open for anything else. Don't worry bout the house. It'll be fine when you get back."

A pause.

"…and you don't happen to have a robot do you?" A pause. "You know what. Nevermind. We'll take care of that too."

—-

Casting Quill a withering look, Rocket just grumbles under his breath as the man wanders off for a moment. But of course Quill will just keep poking at all the right buttons, making the raccoon's furry brow twitch. He spins around to swipe the glass from ol' Star-Lord's hand because Rocket deserves it. He totally does.

"You know if I get desperate I'll just scavenge from the Milano and make do," he says. It's one of the few things he knows actually has some decent hardware to play with, but it's also their way off planet dirtball. But keywords: If I get desperate.

"So you better hope we find that Saskarian ship soon."

He hates when there are things going on that he doesn't know about- or rather that he's not quite sure he understands. Going up against heavily armed opponents are a piece of cake, but given Zee's skills and obviously arcane powers that are involved here, it makes him think twice. Well. Not that blowing up the problem isn't still his go-to answer.

—-

Blowing up things is always the best solution, even when it isn't. Magic does tend to complicate things, but the Guardians are up for a challenge.

Over Quill's and Rocket's bantering, Groot shrugs at Zee. "I am Groot," he replies, completely used to the atmosphere.

They can be serious. When they need to be.

—-

"Hanussen's immortal," Zatanna informs Peter, Rocket and Groot with a grimace.

"As in, he can't die. John and Bucky have already tried, for real. There was a body and everything, and he vanished and came back. Same with what happened in the party, he manages to hold on long enough until he can disappear to a safe place and lick his wounds but as far as we know, nothing can put him down."

'Anything can die.' She remembers the words, paired with eyes like knives, and she can't help but sigh.

"But as I told a friend of mine a few days back, the only way you can kill an immortal who didn't /used/ to be one is find out what happened to him that caused him to be what he is in the first place," the young magician continues. "And Hanussen's been around for almost a hundred years. We know he was a Nazi and apparently he was assassinated in the 1940's by one of Hitler's men, but he's obviously still alive so something must've happened when he was attacked. Anyway yeah, yeah, I know it sounds weird….and we have more immediate problems anyway."

There's a glance down at her arm. "Well, I do anyway," she can't help but mutter, stirrings of frustration visible on the pale, fine-boned face. She is /not/ accutomed to being the damsel in the tower.

"I hope you guys are behaving," she remarks, though there's a note of fond exasperation there. "With luck I'll be home soon. Why did you ask about a robot anyway, Peter?"

—-

"Immortal? Eh met someone who thought he was that before. Didn't take." A wicked grin passes across his face. "But yeah. You tell us when you need us. We'll blow the frack out of whatever it is thats causing you grief." An eye then towards Rocket. "With/out/ touching the Milano."

Yeah. Totally better find that Saskarian ship first.

He loves that ship!! Leave it 'lone!

"Oh robot showed up here, speaks nothing but gibberish and I can't understand it. Seems helpful, but it wants in the house. Since I wasn't sure what those ward things would do to the tin can I just told it to wait outside."

A pause.

"I think its still waiting."

A slight shrug and he glances towards his two partners in crime. "We'll take it to Kinsey and between her and Rocket we can figure something out I'm sure. You just concentrate on not going crazy. We can hold down the fort."

—-

"Yeah, what he said," Rocket says, taking a big gulp from that glass he'd swiped from Quill, but at least they seem to be in agreement on the subject that immortals tend to be overrated. He pointedly does not comment about the Milano. It's nice to have some leverage.

"Bein' immortal don't mean you can't be killed. If we gotta, we'll figure out how to bust him into a billion pieces and bottle 'em up in separate jars if we have to."

Behaving, of course they're behaving! The mansion's still in one piece and no one's turned into a slug, so yes, all's good!

Finishing off the last of that drink rather quickly, he just throws another look at Quill. "Oh, so now there's a /robot/. I'm gonna need more'a this." He gets to his feet, swirling the empty glass around. "I bet you haven't even told Zee that we got an Asgardian bunking on the sofa some nights either, huh," he says over his shoulder before wandering off towards the kitchen.

—-

That much Groot can agree with. He waves that immortal stuff off with a hand, puffing out his wood-layered chest in the process.

There's a pause as he looks to the raccoon. "…I am Groot." Then again, this is Rocket. That kind of thing tends to come up with him.

But yes, behaving. He's been behaving. "I am Groot," he says proudly, letting his eyes wander back toward the remainder of the movie he's been watching earlier. See? Behaving.

—-

At Groot's gestures, Zatanna gives the big lug a warm smile, lifting a few fingers to wave towards Rocket when he goes to the kitchen. To Peter, though, she lifts up her other hand to give him a thumbs-up. "I will," she promises, remembering Jessica's words from the other night - that what she has done, who she /is/, taking in all of these people in her life, has earned her the right to be protected. It had come through a haze of frustration, slipping through the cracks of the fiery barricade of her temper. But it found fissures to exploit, broken in through the ribcage, her sternum to lance her through the heart, and now she keeps those words there to remember, and guide her.

So this promise is one she means, to the aliens living in her house.

"Let me guess, Thor got kicked out of his apartment again?" she wonders. "I've been keeping up through Jess, could you let him know he's welcome to stay as long as he likes? Thanks Peter, for everything….and for holding down the fort."

She would say more, but she hears something and the Guardians would be able to see her looking up from the laptop. There are footsteps, the quiet murmurs of two men - one of them is British, given the accent.

"Who's that?" asks the one with the accent.

"John," the magician greets. "Back with Chas? This is Peter Quill."

Somewhere past the laptop, John and Chas pause at hearing the name. The two of them exchange glances. Chas wordlessly makes a claw with his fingers, and attaches it outward right at his belt area.

Turning to the screen, the young woman's ice-blue eyes find the rest. "Anyway I gotta go, I think it's my turn to cook, gotta earn my keep, right? Don't do anything I wouldn't do."

Why would she say that? That isn't a lot.

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