Far More Than Twelve Percent

January 13, 2017:

That's how much of a plan John Constantine has for dealing with Zatanna's blood stalkers! Having found their location, Bucky meets with John to pass it over.

Manhattan, New York

Characters

NPCs:

Mentions: Jane Foster, Zatanna Zatara

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Last time they met, the Winter Soldier left John Constantine with a number to contact him. It's another burner, but one that Bucky said he'd be using a little longer than usual. Long enough for him to do some looking into this issue of Zatanna's.

Debts needed to be repaid, after all. And now he not only owed Zatanna one, but also John Constantine himself. The wards were working well, so well that Bucky's concerns had dwindled down to 'preventing Jane from running out of the apartment herself after a stray sign of science.'

It's a few days later when John's phone suddenly lights up with a message from that familiar number. 'West 4th and 6th Ave, 30 minutes? Got something.'

He'll be waiting there, at the southeast corner, should John reply in the affirmative. He's dressed down, as he usually is these days, leaning against the wall of a building and watching the crowds from the nearby Washington Square Park.

—-

John arrives with a cigarette in one hand and the other tucked into his pocket. He's not difficult to spot, once a person knows to look for him, as long as he's not trying to go unspotted: he wears virtually the same thing every day, after all.

He is gradually beginning to slough off the appearance of bedraggled sleeplessness that for a time left his eyes hollow and hung from his shoulders like a physical weight. There's an undercurrent of energy in the way he moves, with self-control but clear purpose. "I'm hoping you've got some good news for me, mate. Things are moving along at a clip now, an' I'd love to put this nasty bit of business behind us and get back to that thing we'd both like to finish."

—-

It only takes a few minutes for Bucky to spot John when he shows. That trenchcoat is pretty distinctive, after all, and few people walk around this part of New York with an undone tie. The assassin promptly slides smoothly into the crowd and makes his way over to the opposite corner, indistinguishable from the rest of the people around him until he appears beside the magician.

Who is hoping he's got some good news, because he'd really like to get back to finishing off that thing they both want done.

"You and me both," the Winter Soldier replies. For his part he looks tense, cagey— more so than usual. The look of someone who knows he's being hunted, though not precisely by what. "Took a couple tries til I got the record I needed," he continues, pulling a piece of paper from his pocket and handing it over, "but this is it." He doesn't elaborate on what exactly he did.

The folded paper has an address written on it for a building right in New York.

—-

John takes a last drag from his clove and drops it, steps on it as he takes the piece of paper. He glances at it only very briefly before sliding it into an inner coat pocket, leery of prying eyes. "I won't ask. Just — thanks." Throat cleared. "I don't plan to wait on this. I'll get word out to everyone going and if I can move on this tomorrow, I fully intend to. I'm not usually comfortable involving this many people, to be honest, but the most important thing is that none of them get away. If they leave with her blood, it's starting all over again — or worse."

He settles a shoulder into the side of the building. "I've got more information about that unkillable prick, as well. Sounds like he's out of the country — and we've probably got a few leads on how to sort out his…condition. I'll know more after this weekend. As soon as this other shite's taken care of, we'll be ready to push the next bit."

After a brief pause, he slides pale eyes sidelong to flick over his companion, taking in the subtle trace evidence of nerves on edge, the eyes that never seem to stop moving. "If you're good for it, anyway. You, eh. And the bird. Alright then?"

—-

Thanks, John says. The Winter Soldier doesn't respond verbally, instead slanting a glance over at the other man. His expression says it all, really. He owed one, and he delivered.

His gaze turns thoughtful when John says he wants to move tomorrow, and he'll get word out to 'everyone' going. "Everyone, huh," he says. "Well, better overkill than underkill. Like you said…" His eyes are briefly as bland and machine-murderous as ever they were as the Winter Soldier. "None of them can get away."

He doesn't explicitly promise to be there. Not with that many other people apparently involved. But he doesn't say he won't be, either. He operates best alone and deep in the shadow, anyway, a silent tail on a more noisy crowd.

His gaze turns back to John, settling back into a more human look of interest, as conversation turns to Hanussen. Left the country, but they've got leads on removing the immortality— if Bucky's still good for it, anyway. The way those blue eyes darken is no look the Winter Soldier ever wore: this look is pure vengeance, and the Soldier didn't go in for such messy emotions. "We'd have words if you left me behind on that."

The question about him and Jane, however, has him looking down at the pavement. All right? "So far," he says. "Had some people try and take me in the other day. Took care of it. Probably just gonna skip the country after this is over with. Stay out wherever it is we find that bastard."

—-

Vengeance is something that John is becoming familiar with the feel of, against his better judgement. The longer Zatanna's imprisonment plays out, the less resolve he has to keep that bitterness at bay, watching her waste away in the depths of his flat, going half-mad with boredom and a feeling of helplessness that suits her not at all. "Wouldn't dream of it," he says, with a flicker of a smile that doesn't quite manage to gain a solid foothold on his face.

He wasn't sure he would get much information if any for his latter question, even as carefully as he posed it. He takes that in and keeps his expression guarded in the wake of the answer. It would only have been concern — a natural enough thing to feel, when an acquaintance, even a dangerous and dubious acquaintance like this one, is in mortal peril. If pressed he could not have given his reasons for keeping that concern to himself — he makes the choice based on some buried instinct, and he's learned not to question those too deeply. "For what it's worth, I hear it's a lovely place to live." The smile sticks this time, muted though it is. "If I can help again, let me know, yeah? I've got a few nasty tricks up my sleeve for nosy bastards. And, eh…send the lady my regards."

—-

Bucky wasn't sure he'd even answer that question, truth be told. It surprises him a little when he does, and in more detail than he really expected. Maybe he's just getting soft, maybe just trying to warn in some oblique way that he's got people after him, dangerous people who might not care who was around their prize weapon when they start shooting.

But then, John ought to know all about that kind of thing, himself.

If he can help again, let him know, Constantine eventually says. Bucky clears his throat, looks at the ground. "Yeah," he says. "Well— half the battle of it's stuff nobody can help with. Just you and your own head." He nods curtly, turns away. "I'll tell her you said hey."

His hands slips into his pockets, his right fingering a second copy of that address.

—-

"Right."

John doesn't argue the point. He's no good to someone like The Winter Soldier in a stand-up fight. John's good enough for barfights and he's downright nasty if he can surprise someone, but physical combat is just not his area of expertise. Toe to toe with anyone bigger or more experienced than himself, playing field level, he's probably going to wind up hospitalized. And that's without all of this /spycraft/ and brainwashing and whatever else is going on, the scope of which he has no real sense of, save that the man has a very expensive-looking prosthetic and the ability to kill people from half-a-million miles away.

That's really all he needs to know, though, isn't it? Enough to know he'd only be in the way, unless Barnes' antagonists decide they want to try fiddling about with magic.

Course, that's unlikely, isn't it?

There isn't much else to say, and John's not the sort to fill silence with useless natter, so he tucks his hands into his pockets and takes his leave, heading in the direction opposite. Thinking, for some blocks, about Jane. Reprimanding himself for getting even a little bit invested in her welfare, and also being selfishly relieved that he's no longer the greatest threat to her continued existence. When it comes to his investment in Barnes' condition, he's a bit easier on himself: they shed blood together. It changes everything. For him, at least.

As he rounds a corner, he lifts his hand and pats at the outside of his coat pocket, feeling the piece of paper inside crinkle, a reassurance for the future.

Obviously, the best way to resolve all of these things is to bring the sky down on top of these bastards, and then take the fight to Germany. Clear it all up. Make room for assassin the scientist to lay low. Take Zatanna on vacation. Hong Kong, he thinks, with a twitch of the lips.

It is far more than twelve percent of a plan. Maybe things are finally going to turn around.

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