Workaholics Anonymous

April 25, 2017:

Zatanna Zatara checks in with Jessica Jones after her apology during lunch. She promises to set her up with Jana Bodie, a therapist that practices in the Dreaming.

Penthouse - Berlin - Germany

A swanky penthouse in Berlin, courtesy of Red Robin.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jana Bodie, Giovanni Zatara, Spider-Man, John Constantine, Wong, Bucky Barnes, Red Robin

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Jessica Jones was absent at breakfast and most of the morning. If anyone texted her she would have said she was out doing scut work, due diligence that might or might not locate the journal that their quarry was looking for. That's what she did the night before, after all, and her workaholism and general occasional loner nature is of course well known.

She returned just before dinner, dressed in ratty black jeans. A big hole in them shows these were pulled over Jane's bulletproof suit. This was layered with a bulletproof tee and her jacket and her scarf and her fingerless gloves. She took off the outerwear to share lunch with the group though. She'd slipped something to Bucky and had helped with setting the table.

Awkward and uncomfortable, playing with her food, but stable, she finally spoke up when there was a lull in the conversation.

"I owe everyone here an apology for my shitty mood on the plane. I can only say I really am genuinely afraid of planes, and I…had a lot on my mind. But I had no call to take it out on the rest of you like that. Um. I want everyone to know that I've gotten my head straight and am ready to focus here. And that I've um. I've decided to give hiring a therapist another go. When I get home. I've spent a lot of time dumping an inappropriate amount of shit on all of you," the slightest cut glance to Bucky Barnes here, "and that's not fair. To any of you. Who have your own stuff to deal with. I'm telling you this so you know I'm serious. About making amends."

Then she'd found she was too embarrassed to sit there any more. Something like that can be mortifying, especially for someone like Jones.

"I'm also um…I've gotta— I'll— Air."

And then she'd fled, stepping to what is essentially a safe space for Jessicas: rooftops. Of course. This one comes with a pool. It's only 49 degrees and sprinkling a little in Berlin today, and nobody sane would be using it. Or nobody with sane physiology. Jessica, indifferent to heat and cold alike, has stripped off her boots and plunged her feet into it, staring off across the Berlin skyline.

Repenting is hard.

—-

There's another lull when Jessica leaves the table to head out, though before anyone else can react, Zatanna stands up from her own seat; after a quick reassurance to everyone that she'll go after her, the eighteen year old is off to follow after the private investigator.

The last few months have given her more than just a rudimentary insight on the older woman, and knows almost immediately where she would be when she returns to the sizeable penthouse that Red Robin owns (because she's almost certain that 'rental' isn't anywhere in Tim Drake's vocabulary), moving over towards the roof and the pool that she knows is there. The height and the location enables her to take in the picturesque view of Berlin's skyline, old buildings wedged in with the new like most European cities and much like New York, magic is everywhere - doubly so, considering how the city is so much older than any that exist in the United States. The influence of old sorcery, to her, can be tasted in the air and felt on its stones.

She finds Jessica immediately, moving over to where the dials of the pool's temperature control panel resides. She turns up the heat, just a little bit to ward off the Spring chill. Booted steps take her closer to Jess, taking a seat by the side of her and unlacing her own footwear.

"I'm not going to ask what happened," she says, before Jess can even open her mouth. "Not unless you want to tell me. Believe me, I've been through this before - you and John are pretty similar, as far as that goes." A small smile lifts the corner of her mouth. "Except I don't think John would ever, ever, think about seeing a therapist in his life, and it's not just because of everything he's been through."

She dips her pale toes into the water.

"Did you have anyone in mind for a therapist?"

—-

Jessica doesn't entirely start when Zee comes after her, though she does tense a little bit. That fear that she's going to say something stupid winds back through her gut. It's one thing to listen to a still, small voice and come to decisions. It's another to try to live through those decisions. But Zee starts with something fairly easy, and the set of her shoulders slowly relaxes. Zee says she's not going to ask, and she thinks about all the reasons why she didn't tell Zee in the first place. She wasn't about to tell two of the people she cared about that she was blaming herself for a brutal murder that happened, in her mind, because she got distracted trying to pull them out of Hell. She may be stupid when it comes to words, but she knew that much would be bad.

And how that might have caused the wall she's been sensing between herself and her friends lately. Maybe they didn't build it.

Maybe she did.

"Lots," she says, not seeming to mind the change in temperature.

She gives her an out for not saying anything at all, and she debates whether to take a brick out of that wall. She decides to try giving spartan details, give it a stab. Will this work for the balance between opening up and closing down entirely?

"The 17th sucked hairy balls. This murder case I caught— up to 7 victims now. Blamed myself for 3. Small potatoes PI in very large world."

A snort. "My fucking love life still. But you guys got shit going down too."

That'll do. Anything else is too much.

She shakes her head at the question about the therapist. "Anyone who doesn't fucking bust out the coloring books is an improvement over the one I saw couple years back. Why?"

—-

"I know it's hard not to do that when you're doing everything you can to solve something," Zatanna says, with respect to Jessica blaming herself for the deaths of three people. "It's part of the heroism business, I found. Red and Spidey take it really hard when things slip through the cracks. John's learned to live with casualties, but that's not the same as completely blocking the associated emotions that come from that also." She leans back against her palms and looks out at the Berlin cityscape, ice-blue eyes wandering up to the stars that manage to pierce through the filmy veil expended by civilization. "I know you though, you call yourself small potatoes when I bet the people who should be solving the case…" And with that, she means law enforcement. "…are a few steps behind you in terms of developments."

She is only guessing, her assumptions based on what she knows of Jess and how she works. She has no details, really, to ascertain for sure whether they are actually truthful, but it's difficult to do that with just the very basic details.

At the comment about her love life, the young woman shakes her head. "I don't think you know how this works," she tells her. "Just because everyone else has stuff they've got going on doesn't mean that they won't make any time for you if you want to talk. But you've gotta want to talk to someone first, and then maybe…figure out who you think can actually talk about that stuff with you. Like…for example, Bucky and John might not be the best people to talk about the personal stuff, because they're just not the sorts to talk about their feelings, and they would have to in order to contribute to that kind of conversation because it's rooted in personal experience. They're good listeners, but if you need more than that, then they probably shouldn't occupy the top of your list."

Hence, perhaps, the therapist inquiry.

"Because I know someone. Her practice is geared specifically for the special community, but you can only really reach her office in the Dreaming," the young magician supplies, because of course she doesn't just give up the name of someone with a cramped private practice somewhere in Manhattan. "I can show you how. But her name is Jana Bodie, Daddy took me to see her when I was really young. She takes the shape of whatever form her client finds the easiest to confide in and she does this by instinct, something about the specific way she's connected to the Dreaming. When I saw her I was about…six? I forgot for what, I just remember that she took the shape of a giant teddy bear and I felt better immediately."

—-

Jessica gives the ghost of a smile. "The cops? They aren't even equipped. Got three murderers— a mind controlling prick from another dimension who might strangely be a victim himself, a vicious Iron Man knock-off, and a team of interdimensional assassins, all with different agendas. And I keep running into people who think they're getting Agent Jones from somewhere else. I think she might be dead, actually, but damn do they trust her to fix things. And since they didn't get her, they got me…I gotta fix things. Didn't bring you guys in cause it's all tech, and you got your hands full with the magic side."

Zee gives her that note about knowing who to talk to, and there's a rueful, unhappy ghost of a smile. "Yeah. Starting to get that. And learning who you can comfort and who you can't, yourself, too, I guess." She can't stop the guilt over Bucky, but she's done all she can on that front. Moving forward is the only solution.

But Zee begins laying out her intriguing proposal, and Jessica tilts her head to the side. Her lips quirk into half a smile when Zatanna says that she got a giant teddy bear. "That's…adorable. Did she let you get teddy bear hugs?"

But she has other questions, too. "Does she enter your mind? John's warded mine beautifully against magic and psychic intrusion, and she'd just get hurt if she does. How does she get paid?" After all, Zee has fairly well driven home the 'all magic comes with a price' lesson. But she's intrigued, too.

A Dream Therapist is probably not going to fuck up. Someone that old and powerful and capable. With…such a fairly mundane name, Jana Bodie. "I take it she didn't start as a Dream Therapist?"

—-

"Yeah, no worries, I wouldn't know how to handle tech any which way, but maybe Red can help," Zatanna says, though her lips purse faintly. "There's a complication with that, though - this deal he made with Wong when the rest of you guys were trying to pull us out of Hell. But even then, if you need the help, you could always ask and you know I'm always willing."

There's a hint of a smile at Jessica's confession about that latest epiphany. "Yeah? Well, that's good. I mean…not to say you shouldn't try, regarding the comforting thing. I've been burned many times trying to do that, but the results can be surprising also. I learned that pretty early on." Ice-blue eyes move away from Jessica. "Not just because of John. I mean early…with Daddy. He's not an easy person to love, but I do anyway."

When Jessica asks about the teddy bear hugs, she laughs and points a finger at Jessica, that billion-megawatt smile turned up to its full intensity. "Yes," she says. "And I'm not even remotely ashamed for enjoying it. I was six. She was soft and fluffy and she was…" Pink. "…in my favorite color at the time. What's not to love? It was easy to talk to her after that, though…" She frowns. "I don't really remember why I had to see her, it was so long ago. That was around the same age when I discovered what Daddy actually was, so maybe it was connected to that."

The questions that follow are good ones. "No, you come to see her, not the other way around," she tells Jessica. "Jana's pretty principled for someone as old and powerful as she is. That and she can probably do anything in the Dreaming but decides to help people instead…Daddy trusts her, and he doesn't trust many. And she gets paid in Karma. John doesn't believe in it, mind, but that's probably why she's in the profession she's in. The more good she does, the better off she is."

She laughs when Jessica astutely wonders about the very ordinary name. "Remember," she tells her. "In our world, true names hold power. It's probably not her real name."

—-

"Wait, what deal?" Jessica asks, her head snapping around, frowning. "They made me be a hostage in the front. Red didn't tell me about any deal. Fuck, what did he do?"

That momentarily snaps her out of her funk for sure, brown eyes widening in shock. "Shit. Shit! I should have asked him more questions. God fucking damn it."

But she falls silent when Zee lets out this rare bit about her Dad. She has never heard her express anything about her Dad that wasn't absolutely glowing. She decides not to call attention to it precisely. Instead she reaches out to gently squeeze Zee's shoulder. Zee is another who doesn't get her 'feather light touch to normal person touch' treatment. She just squeezes like a person. "Must be where you got all that practice dealing with all of us then."

And that brilliant mega-watt smile lightens something in Jess in return. She gives a slight sigh, because if there was any lingering resentment in her about Zee's cheer on the plane, well, it's gone now. Zee's cheer turns out to be a good thing, and she returns the smile with something a bit more genuine. Just like an annoying younger sister who manages to win her over every fucking time. It's not even in her to allow those feelings to fester. Fair or unfair, they are put to rest.

Then she's listening about the therapist. "Oh, right. Should I tell her a fake name? And so— she gets good Karma, but she doesn't get it from me? Like I won't suddenly be drowning in more bad karma? Cause I gotta tell you, Zee, I'm choking in bad karma. I am not entirely sure I have any good to give her. If I do it's in awfully short supply."

Always find out if you can pay the bill before you go. But…

"How does someone like me get to her?"

—-

Wait, what deal?

Zatanna winces inwardly, but she lifts her fingers up. "Jess, wait…it's done. It's not as if we can do anything about it right now. We'll just have to figure it out later, yeah? Besides, Wong is reasonable….he and John have known each other for years, and he's a business guy. And even if you asked Red about it at the time, he would have lied. I know him, he's determined to take that load on himself, nevermind the fact that he's taking all the risk. It's just…the kind of guy he is." There is frustration there, tempered and softened by affection, but that's a given. The parts that she admires the most about him also tend to be the parts about him that exasperate her the most.

"I wasn't happy about it, either, when I found out. Not like he could keep that from me. But it wasn't as if I was there to prevent it. He's just…" She sighs. "We're just going to have to keep an eye out for him, the way we do with one another when we're embroiled with dangerous business. In that regard, nothing's really changed. Just…on occasion, things can get difficult for him, is all."

The squeeze on her shoulder has her hand coming up, tightening her fingers over Jessica's pale knuckles. She gives her a small smile.

"No, Jess…Karma doesn't work that way," the raven-haired magician reassures her, though she can see why Jessica would ask these questions, especially with how carefully deals are made in the magical world. "The amount of Karma's favor is determined by the doer of the deed, not the recipient - what the person does with his or her life. So if Jana decides to take you on as a client and tries to do good by helping you with your problems, she earns it from the Universe, not you. So you don't have to worry about something getting taken away from you. And you can, give her a fake name I mean, but you don't have to. She knows mine, and I'm perfectly comfortable with it. She's that trustworthy."

But that's the rub, in the end. How does someone visit Jana Bodie?

"Well, I'll need to tell her that I'm referring you first," she says. "And then you have to be sleeping, when you come see her. Just think of her name before you sleep after I tell her about you and once you're dreaming, you'll find yourself in her office. And then you can start setting standing appointments when you don't have to think about her every time. You'll just automatically go there." She can't help a mischievous grin. "It's pretty clever, actually. Means there's no escape from Jana once you're a client and you set appointments. So you have absolutely no choice but to see her at the day, time, and duration you chose."

—-

Jessica sighs and exhales."Yeah. You're right— done is done, and Red's an adult. He was the one who spoke Chinese," she mutters, shaking her head. "That must not have been a very pleasant thing for you to find out about though. Going to Wong just seemed to be the next logical step when you guys turned up missing. I should have gone by myself, maybe, but I don't know that I'd have decided any different, really."

This time, at least, she lets this latest revelation pass without taking on the guilt for very long, slowly coming to grips with what is and isn't her fault. Ever. So. Slowly.

She leaves her hand on Zatanna's shoulder for a moment. She needs the contact. She hadn't realized how much she needed some sort of physical contact until this moment, when she starts getting some. She doesn't keep it there for long, but she squeezes once more before she finishes it.

"Not to mention the time savings. And maybe it would keep me asleep longer. And…yeah. Any mechanism that keeps me going, because I think we both know that I'm doing this thing I should do in a moment of feeling like an asshole, and won't want to do it as soon as this feeling that I am an asshole fades."

She drags her feet through the water, back and forth, watching it trail and twirl. "I'm in," she says. "Thank you, Zee. This is really nice of you."

She pauses, adding something else, something careful, while she has the chance to deliver this information. This is even a good time to do it quite carefully, because something has occurred to her.

"Just one more question, cause I don't want to put her in danger. Maybe it's something you can even ask her. Itzpapalotl the Obsidian Butterfly seems to be watching me rather closely these days. I think she kind of likes me, even if I did mouth off to her, so I don't think she's going to kick down the door automatically, but…might be prone to creating more events like the one that happened on the 17th if she feels like I have…failed to absorb her lessons about the folly of tampering with Az and Xihunel's souls, or failed, I'm sure, in a timely fashion to pass them on to you and John. Is Jana able to protect herself from someone as unpredictable as an Aztec love goddess if I say the wrong thing in therapy?"

And then, more quietly, "Are you okay, Zee? It's been a rough several months for everyone, and here we are, chasing after people who caused you a world of hurt."

—-

"What? I see you having a rough time and you expect me not to swoop in and try to help?" Zatanna flashes a reckless grin in her direction, before glancing down at the water. Her foot moves sideways, playfully splashing Jessica's ankle with her own.

"My track record in that is fifty-fifty. I associate with difficult people, but I tend to bull in headfirst, too, no matter how thorny the issue is. It's gotten me eviscerated more than once." She pauses for a moment, before she laughs. "It's because of that tendency that John and I broke up after we broke up over the summer. How the hell does that even happen, Jess? How do you kill something that's already dead? I've never heard of a zombie relationship before, and I somehow lived through one? It's just the kind of ridiculousness that being me gets into…emotionally. But in the other half when it works…I can't bring myself to regret it. It's brought me to you guys, after all."

She tilts her head up, ice-blue eyes wandering over towards the dark expanse of sky, and the endless canopy of glittering stars. Slowly, but surely, she tilts to fall on her back, so she can stare up the vastness above her head. For all that she tends to embody light in her disposition, she is comfortable in the darkness, also - she can't be the Great Zatara's daughter without looking into eternal nothing without wonder and moxie.

The next question is a little more nuanced and complicated. She falls quiet for a moment, letting herself savor the night air and the look of the millions of pinpoints of light winking at her.

"I don't think you have to worry about Jana," the younger woman finally says. "There are plenty who view Jana's office as sacred territory, and while Itzpapalotl is powerful, the Dreaming is not her domain. Hell, if you want to get down to the barebones, Itzpapalotl is the patron deity of the day in the Aztec pantheon, and the Dreaming very much belongs to the night, so she'd be weaker there, not stronger. Ultimately, Jana has more influence there than she does."

At the query about herself, quiet and soft, Zatanna purses her lips as she looks at the stars. But Jessica would find no reticence in communicating how she feels - as always, when it comes to that territory, she willingly opens the door to let someone in.

"Honestly? I would have been fine staying in New York if people decided to drop it," she tells the private investigator. "John probably would have preferred that, also, if not just because he thinks I'll be safer that way. But I can't just leave him and the rest to tackle an immortal nazi sorceror, especially one who may have been imbued with a bit of the Messiah's power set. I was fine with him just being gone, but John always tells me that loose ends like that are dangerous, and he's got a decade of experience on me. I wish we could just…forget him, but there are other reasons why I can't. The Cult is after him, too, and I'm less about going after some kind of satisfaction, or making sure he doesn't harm me again, and more for whatever they want with him that might have something to do with the fact that the Cult has another Giovanni Zatara with them - Daddy, but not Daddy. I need to figure out what's going on there - he can't fight them without risking running into me and killing the both of us, but I sure as hell can. That…" And her eyes narrow into glacial slits at that. "…is not an insult I can forgive. I can handle a lot, Jess. I can forgive a lot. But I can't forgive that. No way."

As always, her thoughts and motivations are, unfailingly, for someone else that she loves.

—-

Jess smirks and splashes her right back. "Careful, I will seriously drag your ass straight in and show you why nobody sane splash fights with Jessica Jones."

But she doesn't mean it; Zee could catch a cold trying to swim in this weather. Magic or no magic!

Jessica laughs— a real laugh— at the zombie relationship, eyes dancing. "Because when you two decide to set things on fire you don't do it by halves, that's why! Fuck you, we're DONE! And you know what else? Also fuck you we're DONE?" Then she switches to do a perfect imitation of John's accent. "Yeah, love? Well fuck you very much and also fuck you very much, and oh bollocks I can't live without you."

Jessica looks down ruefully at being included in this bit about who Zee's been brought to, painfully aware that she is kind of an asshole and that in a lot of ways she is not an asset in Zee's life by any stretch of the imagination, but she decides not to toss that angst in her friend's direction. Instead, she tilts to fall on her back with Zee, looking straight up.

"Good. I'd hate to be responsible for depriving wizards worldwide of their therapist," Jessica says wryly. "I mean. That just sounds like a shit idea."

She folds her hands over her stomach. "Yeah. I remember. He didn't want to attack OtherGi. Everyone was sort of frozen. That's why I just called the play and tackled him. Didn't end particularly well for me, but I guess it all worked out how it was supposed to. I was glad John figured out it wasn't him quick. I wasn't looking forward to the 'hey Zee, case closed, your Dad's a hosebeast who is trying to kill you' conversation I thought for half a minute I was going to have."

She listens to Zee's very real anger about her father's fate, and everything in her softens. "There's got to be a way to fix that curse," she says. "I mean any curse that can be made can be broken, right? And surely there are only a handful of ways that could have been done in the first place. What would it require? Figure that out, maybe you figure out who did it. It wasn't necessarily the Cult of the Cold Flame. I mean the implication is, sure, that it's Evil-Gi, but implication is not confirmation is not case closed is not solution. If you wanted to do that to, say, me and— I dunno. Anyone. My kid, if I had one. Or me and Matt Murdock, if it's different when there's no blood connection. How would you do it? What components would you need? What deals would you have to cut and with whom? What would it cost? What specific ritual would you have to use?"

Magic is magic and Jess is no expert.

But in some ways, an investigation is an investigation. If Jess had to find a bomber, she'd start by asking what went into the bombs he made. The principle is the same.

—-

Jessica's spot-on imitation of the two of them has Zatanna laughing, turning her head so she could look at Jessica sidelong, lying next to her now. "We've always been volatile," she tells her. "I'm pretty overt about it, but John…he plays it cool a lot, but I've known him for years. He just…" Her eyes lid at that, expression softening. "Oh, Jess, if I could show you how I saw him when I first met him, I would. The way he throws himself - all of himself - into whatever he does. When he's fighting, or drinking, or loving, or just trying to survive whatever it is that's trying to get him. He's so different from me, but in that, this one part, we're the same. Like…Life decided that we'll be everything that we're not to each other, except for this one, white-hot fault line that can make or break everything. I think that's why when we do get the way we do, things just…" Her voice trails off. Her cheeks puff out instead as she gestures with her hands, pantomiming a nuclear explosion with sound and fingers.

There is a pause, suddenly remembering the aftermath of that harrowing encounter in Switzerland; the close call of her arrival just at the tail end of the man who would have been Giovanni Zatara were it not for John's cleverness. How she would have reacted, and just how angry John had been afterward. Just a few seconds earlier and she would have seen that. And…

…for all the world that she loves John Constantine, her greatest weakness is still her father, the one constant in her largely transient life. John's familiarity with the fact, she was sure, was one of the driving points as to why he was as furious as he was.

But then anger gave way to something else, and suddenly…

Zatanna pulls herself forcibly away from those images, half-obliviated as they were by passion. No matter how hard she tries to hang onto every little details, the intensity of the moment had rendered that impossible. Instead, her eyes refocus on Jessica's face again as she asks her questions, and her burgeoning smile gives way to fond amusement.

"You…" She reaches out to poke the woman's side. "Just can't help yourself, can you? Even when you're not working, you're working!"

She does give Jessica's queries their due consideration. "To be honest, I don't know much about the nature of the curse," she says quietly. "And from what John tells me, Daddy refuses to give him any additional details. Knowing him, he's probably worried that John'll just hare off and try to solve the problem himself, and you know as well as I do that Daddy's not wrong there, when his focus should be on his cases and the end of the world that's poised to ruin everything from the moment we get back. But normally when you're dealing with a curse, especially one so specifically directed like this, you have to identify and find the caster. There's no way around it. And from what John tells me about whatever he's hunting, it's wearing Daddy out."

Worry seeps into her voice there, and one she tries to quell from showing too badly.

"So Daddy knows who did it, but for some reason, he's having trouble finding and neutralizing her. I know him, though, if this goes on long enough he'll find another solution. Chances are he probably has an idea already." Pride lights up her eyes there; it comes from a place of endless affection, to be sure, the burning, unconditional love a daughter has for her father, but there is certainty present, as well. Nobody is more intimately familiar with the man's magic and expertise than Zatanna. "Daddy's been in the game far longer than anyone I know personally."

—-

Jessica Jones chuffs as she's poked. Even when she's not working, she's working? "It's what makes me feel sane and worthwhile," she admits, shrugging. And maybe that, as much as Az's situation, is what had rankled her about the vacation vibe.

Hard to enjoy a vacation when you have no idea how to relax. Maybe deep down she'd just envied everyone else their ability to step off the hamster wheel for a moment. Her insane need to pile more and more obligations onto herself, to take on so much that she hits and exceeds her breaking point, is something she supposes she'll examine with Jana later.

Laughter fades as she listens to the rest of it. She drums her fingers against her stomach. "Got a hedge spell that might let me talk to him?" she says at last. "Unlike John, I ain't nobody to him, and I could offer my services. Maybe my ability to run down leads you wizards don't think to run down could help. Not that his expertise isn't incredible I'm sure, but if he's getting tired, he may be missing things that he should be catching. A fresh pair of eyes and an ally who gives a damn might not hurt."

See above: pathalogical need to take on more and more and more, but…this is important. It's important to Zee and it's important to John, two people she cares about dearly and intensely. It's worth it for a shot at trying to fix the problem. Dryly, she adds, "I'll even remember to check any and all hotel rooms twice."

—-

There's something about the offer that Jess presents to her that softens Zatanna's everything considerably. It's around the eyes and face, most, but there's relief there, too. Quietly, she reaches out for the private investigator's hand as they lie there, interlacing their digits together, should she be allowed to, and gives her hand a solid, warm squeeze.

"I don't," she says quietly. "Daddy's cut off everybody. I don't know what the hell he's after that he needs to go through those extremes to do that, but he did. The only way people can get in touch with him now is the bottle he gave John, some kind of magical flare device that causes the entire fabric of Magic to give off a specific vibration that authenticates the fact that it's really John that's calling." Said with both admiration and a hint of incredulity; she and John are far from even figuring out how it works, nevermind the skill to put together a like device.

"And it looks like an ordinary bottle!!"

With that acerbic last comment though, Zatanna gives Jessica a stern look. "Still?" Then again, she shouldn't be surprised. "Jess, come on, try and give yourself a break…you were thrown in Steinschneider's psychological fun house when you went there by yourself, and considering the fact that John and I have tasted what actually goes on there - and it was bad enough that there was no way John was going to go back in, no sane person could ever blame you for missing a few things."

—-

"So tell John to tell Giovanni to go to Alias Investigations and acquire himself one grumpy, super-strong detective to help him," Jessica says with a smirk, squeezing her fingers right back. "If your Dad says no that's fine, but at least he gets a resource he didn't have before. It's worth a shot, anyway, and if I can lighten the load for him a little, looks like that's lightening the load for you too."

She holds on to Zee's hand. She even shifts, laying her head against Zee's shoulder in a sisterly fashion, relaxing a little, sighing a little as she kicks her foot absently and gently through the water. John and Zee look like master magicians to her…seems like this guy is about a super-master, but that still doesn't mean he can't use the help.

"Being thrown into the funhouse doesn't mean I couldn't have gone back and checked that room again. I assumed that it was cleaned out and in use by others. That's a bad habit for an investigator. But fine, I suppose I have very recently made a commitment to give myself a fucking break because I'm driving myself crazy. It's just like— it's like you or John misfiring a spell. Bucky missing a shot. Jane failing to science correctly. But I can admit that I also had a severe aversion to ever going in that room again. Had a panic attack before I could even go up to the front counter of that hotel, 30 minutes of just hyperventalating on the park bench outside."

It's the first time Jessica has ever openly admitted to getting them, and getting them bad, but she doesn't seem to notice.

"We don't have that gem with us, nor Thor, nor Quill. Have you and John put together any precautions that would keep him from sticking all six of us back in there?"

—-

When Jessica insists, Zatanna can't help but smile. "Okay, I'll tell him," she relents, turning her head to press her lips into Jessica's hair when she leans her head into her shoulder and stays there, as always so free when it comes to dispensing her affection. "Daddy ought to meet you eventually, anyway. And I should probably have John tell him that we have house guests. The last thing I need is him stopping by there and see Peter walk around wild and free like he does every three in the morning. I don't know what he'll turn him into."

The mention of the panic attack has her expression shifting. "Oh, Jess, I didn't know…I'm sorry," she says, gripping her hand tighter. "Why didn't you say anything? I could've…" Well, she would have tried to help, figure out some way to soothe away the symptoms.

Privately, she makes a mental note to see Jana immediately. Tonight, once she turtles into bed. Using magic or any herbal concoctions, she knows, are just temporary measures. The real fix would be somewhere in Jessica's subconscious, and she's definitely not an expert there.

Again, someone in their party brings up a point that nobody's thought of until this moment. Zatanna frowns, reminded of the incident. "No, we haven't," she says. "I think Steinschneider would need to open a rift to be able to toss someone in a place like that physically, like he did with you. I'll mention it to John later, we'll work on a solution."

Another thing to add to their to-do list. Letting the silence linger, she exhales a breath. "Well…with that said, we should probably get back to work, huh?" she says with a laugh. "The sooner we get done here, the sooner we can get back."

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