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October 26, 2017:

Now aware that the problem at the Checkerbrick is magical in nature, Jessica Jones calls John Constantine to come get his take. She's hoping he can fix it, but nothing's ever that simple.

The Checkerbrick Building, NYC

A star-crossed building if there ever was one.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Kate Bishop, Daredevil, Red Robin, Zatanna Zatara

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The Checkerbrick building lives up to its name. It's literally built out of black and white bricks. On the bottom, a coffee shop and a very twee art gallery-slash-store called Melody fur Elise. On the top, tenants. Currently? A mess of police cars and yellow tape, precluding any hope they'll be able to go into the building now. Nevertheless, Jessica is one hundred percent at the 'it's time to call John' point. She waits across the street, leaning against the wall of the opposite building, one foot up behind her as she watches the chaos unfold with a rather grim expression on her face.

For someone who was bitching about being shot she looks fine, but then, she's wearing all that bulletproof gear. Closer examination will show there is a hole in said gear though, right at the gut level.

Between the length of time it takes him to meet her and the fact that he's walking when he's within her line of sight, it's easy enough to guess that he opted to take the subway rather than using any more mystical means of getting around — that tends to be for situations in which time is of the essence, anyway. Granted, for most people hearing that a friend of theirs had been shot would probably qualify as that kind of emergency, but by now John's had time to adjust to Jessica's physiology, and the fact that she was texting him with anything other than 'I need help' alleviates any need to rush.

It's just John. He looks the same now as ever; lean and sharp, hands in pockets, a cigarette held with the ember cupped behind loosely curled fingers.

"Nice," is what he says by way of greeting, blue eyes narrowed at the chaos of light and activity. "Practically a swarm of the buggers." Cops, he means. His tone doesn't cross the line into disdain, but it sits snugly up next to the sentiment. "So what's the story, Jones? Let's have it."

Since Jess feels the same way about cops, she agrees. "There's a pattern, a history, of paranoia and violence at this building. Fairly recently. A murder two months ago. The kid did his dad, but grew horrified about it the farther away it got. A woman assaulted her caregiver, accused her of stealing; her granddaughter opted to flee her rent-controlled apartment rather than stay. My client, and her business partner, both apparently trying to tank the business. Tonight's incident."

She grimaces. "I got the text from Elinor about this ley line thing just before I went in there this evening, but the business partner hires another PI, and I wanted to go and try to talk to her. I thought the Checkerbrick Effect couldn't possibly impact her that quickly, it seemed to take time. I wanted to see if we could work it together, seeing as neither of our clients are guilty of what they're accusing each other of. Any rate. There's all these yellow crystals, and she starts mucking with the things despite my express request not to do that. At first I thought she was being super pissy and not much more, but the effect got her. Almost immediately. Worth noting? It didn't trigger your protections, at all, so it's not psychic in nature, and it's not attacking with magic in any direct sense. I think the crystals are amplifiers of some kind. I tried to nick one to show to you, as I still seem to be immune to the whole bullshit, but they all went inert, and I couldn't grab one with the cops swarming everywhere. Whether it's because I had to shatter one, or because the shapeshifter did something, I don't know. And there is one. She got away, of course."

Nothing about the way the story begins produces much response in John. It's not until she reaches the bit about the crystals that his brows crease in the center, and he turns his head enough to slant pale eyes her way, the revolving blue and red of the emergency vehicles lending a kind of superficial intensity to the way he looks at her. When she tells him it didn't trigger her wards his brow arches, then settles, and he returns his gaze to the building itself, silent until she finishes.

"When you say 'crystals,' you mean — what. Little ones left lying about? Things growing out of the walls?" His shoes grit on the sidewalk as he settles in next to her against the wall, propping one foot behind him while the other anchors him in place.

"No. They looked almost decorative, and were positioned as such. Nobody could tell me where they came from."

She pulls out her phone, showing him a photo she tried to take. "Like most magical things, it seems they don't photograph worth shit. I might have some dust on my hands still though, I haven't washed them. I think the shapeshifter put them there, and I think they're amplifiers, meant to exploit that fault in the leylines. Then? Shapeshifter's stirring the pot in other ways."

She glances up at the building. This whole thing has pissed her off, beneath the surface, but outwardly she's calm enough. "She is basically taking the form of various people, doing terrible shit, recording evidence of what she's done. So now, people who are already inclined towards paranoia and violence have even more incentive to turn on each other. Though tonight she seemed bent on murder. I broke up a domestic upstairs, could hear the man pleading that the guy in the photos wasn't him. Get in there, wife is holding a gun on him. Only it's not the wife. Wife puts in a call via webcam. It's the shapeshifter."

The first face John makes is at her phone. He looks down at the blurry, essentially useless image and, without lifting his head, lifts his eyes to fix her with a look that says, 'really?' It's quickly subsumed beneath other things with more gravity, the gradual slide of his brows together again taking place over the full course of her description of the offender.

He doesn't say anything straight-off. He tilts his head back against the brick wall behind him and lets his eyes lid, smoking the last of the clove in his hand while he mulls over what he's been told. Eventually he finishes, drops it to the ground and steps on it, his sigh expelling the last of the smoke. "Christ." That's his hot-take. Then: "There are a lot of things that shift shapes, but this MO is different. I'll check that later." His coat rustles as he folds his arms over his chest, watching the meaningless movements of civil servants through a crime scene they cannot possibly grasp the full extent of. "It's not usual for something that changes shape to do things that draw attention to it. Yeah? That's the whole point of looking like something else: to not be noticed. So…it wants something, obviously. Enough to risk being caught out, the way it was tonight." Pause. He ticks his gaze toward her sidelong. "What happened when you caught it in a lie?"

"Look, man, unless you want to put another app on this thing, one which photographs magic worth a shit, I don't know what to tell you," Jessica grouses, in response to that look of his. "I got what I could. Magic is not very photogenic."

But he has other questions, and grousing or no grousing she wastes no time in answering them.

"When it got caught in the lie it tried to shoot the husband," Jessica says, sighing. She gestures to her abdomen vaguely to show what became of that. "Then she jetted. I shattered the nearest crystal because the I needed the other PI to stop fucking focusing on her paranoia towards me and to go chase her until I could straighten my god damn body again."

Getting shot in the gut at close range hurts, even through kevlar weave, even for one such as Jessica; it didn't slow her down long, but it sure did slow her.

"But she was faster n' fuck. Bishop— PI #2— got her gun, but Shapeshifter pretty much took her to the mat before fleeing. I do have some video evidence, and some photos, of shapeshifter in some of her other forms, if you think you can do anything with them."

John's eyes tighten enough that the corners crinkle, and he shakes his head once, then again, repeatedly, small movements. Dissatisfied. "That don't make sense. Shooting him after it's caught out, what bloody good is that?" From their position across the street he drills the look of displeasure he's wearing into the eye-gougingly awful brickwork. "I can see something trying to…stir up bad energy in a spot like this. Use it to power something else, sure. Make people miserable, feed it all back on itself until it's a canker. But when you're caught, there's no game anymore, is there? Everybody knows the score. Why bother?" It's a rare moment of aloud-think, a thing he doesn't allow many people to witness. He tends to prefer to take all of the pieces with him somewhere and then produce a fully realized result.

Eventually he does drop back out of his own thoughts to nod at her, just once. "Everything. Can't hurt. You tell your clients to get the hell out of the building?" Brow up. "And everyone else, for that matter? Place is a shambles."

And Jessica listens; listens closely to what he's got to say. In fact, this reminds her there are a few more details he might find relevant.

"My client for sure," Jessica replies. "Bishop's by agreement with mine. I'd love to get everyone else out. They run a whole coffee shop over there, and I don't know how I can pull it off short of just…kicking the foundation until it becomes too dangerous for anyone to walk through. I guess maybe I can bribe someone at the Health department to shut the coffee shop down, but there's still the matter of the tenants upstairs. Might be able to bribe someone into getting it shut down for some other bullshit reason. I guess that had better be my very next to do item."

Dryly: "I can't tell you how pumped I am to see it crawling with armed cops, who are already paranoid and trigger happy in the best of times." As the blue and red lights of the police car flashers continue a play of light and shadow over her face.

She circles back around to it, though, the thing his musing tells her she nearly forgot to tell him. "Many of the people caught up in this Effect thing have headaches, and some sort of heat rash. I saw one on my client's arm. And…knowing the score honestly didn't help. I tried to reason with Kate, tried to tell her flat out what was going on, and all it did was make her more suspicious of me. And like, maybe it's gone and done, as it just fled an hour ago, but I dunno. I don't think it expected anyone to intervene up there, that's for sure. The coffee shop was already closed for the night, Melody fur Elise was already shut down, and the clients did a lot of bickering before they'd let us in to take a look around their crime scene at all."

"Won't be hard to shut down. I don't know what building code looks like in the States, but you find me one that I could set off with an illusion or two and that's that. Won't have to bollix up the foundations." He slides his hand up into his hair, rifling through ever-tousled strands as he side-eyes the police. He says nothing about her wariness of them and their exposure to the building, but it's safe to say he shares the sentiment.

"Headaches are no surprise. 'Heat rash?' No bloody idea. Exposure to bad magic? Who knows? Depends on what kind of hinky shite's going on in there, and I won't know until I get inside. Could tap the ley lines out here, but…" He grimaces, jaw tightening. "Rather not." There's no elaboration as to the whys of that preference.

Jessica figures it's either Because Tradecraft, Because Armed Cops or Because Unpredictable. Or Because All of Above.

In any of these events, she simply accepts that at face value, turning her mind to the problem of how they can possibly get the building clear. "Sewage backing up into the building could do it," she says at last. "Major health and safety risk. I think you'd have to make it seem like it was vomiting sludge out of every toilet, sink, and bathtub in the place, but…that might even get everyone out before anyone has to tell them to get out, depending on how, uh, vivid you wanted to make that illusion."

She thinks about other things though, fingering the hole in her leather jacket. "Magic can make changes in the body," she says slowly. "If the whole thing is creating a physiological effect of some kind it would explain why it didn't trigger your protections, and why I'm still immune, or at least, resistant enough not to fucking fall to it in less than two goddamn minutes of exposure. I've got a real good tolerance versus that kind of shit at this point. Which might hint at why a rash might be happening."

She strips off her jacket, just in case, running her hands over her arms and pushing up her sleeves, just to see if she has a rash at all. She apparently does not, or if she does it's nowhere she can go looking for it out on a public street, but it seems smart to check, and the inner elbow was where she'd spotted Melanie's.

"Dunno. It'd clear the building, but they'd have cleanup crews in straight off. Gotta be something time-consuming to fix." While she speculates he keeps his eyes across the street, still dicking around with his hair as a means of burning through the restless energy that comes from being close to possible answers, but unable for the time being to access them.

"I'll know better when I get in there." Which presents its own interesting set of problems, doesn't it? What if Jones' ability to resist is native to her, and not a product of his ward? What if John Constantine — already a deeply paranoid person at the best of times — goes into the Checkerbrick building and loses touch with reality?

If he's thinking about that possibility, it doesn't show. He turns his head to watch her as she peels her jacket off and checks over her arms, watching to see whether or not she finds anything. When she doesn't, the low sound he makes in his chest seems satisfied, for the time being. "As luck would have it-" Such a loaded phrase, really, coming from John, "-I'm still working with Frost. She can do fuck-all about sour magic or corrupted ley lines, but if there's a psychic component here she's not a bad Plan B. For now? Let's plan on getting the building cleared out, then you and I can go inside and have a shufti. See what's what."

The thought had crossed her mind.

But then she thought he probably had some shields or protections or something, precautions he'd take.

So she shows no particular concern about that bit, though she does make a very sour face at the mention of Emma Frost. Not because she knows the woman personally; it's her predjudice against any kind of telepath, all the way, 100%, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. But neither does she make any objection. This is officially John's Area now, and that means his say goes. "Sounds good," are the only two words that come out of her mouth in response, sour face or no sour face.

In the meantime, while they wait she starts doing some research, trying to figure out what will be convincing, time consuming, and plausible enough to shut that building down, figuring the cops will be awhile, so she might as well make herself useful.

It's a long wait, and John Constantine is not always the most patient of people. For a while he disappears, off to retrieve something caffeinated for both of them. He's a walker by nature; he walks and smokes and thinks, a habit not often facilitated in this country, where everyone seems more inclined to drive.

Eventually the cops do begin to disperse, though, and since the residents still haven't been made to clear out of the building they're probably relieved, looking forward to the restoration of peace and quiet.

Eventually John decides things are quiet enough. There's still a police officer lingering near the front, but when he leans up off of the wall and starts toward the building — without a word to Jessica, in fact, probably assuming she'll get the hint — he doesn't seem especially concerned about it. The reason why becomes clear quickly enough. The cop stirs, begins to open his mouth, and John produces a playing card from seemingly nowhere, held up between two fingers. "I'm with the condo association. I'm here to assess property damage. Bringin' this one in to tell me what's what."

The cop squints at the card, squints at John, and after a moment thumbs wordlessly toward the door, already bored and thinking about other things. He barely even glances at Jess. She's already been spoken to, and that's not his job.

Jessica appreciated the coffee. And has been forwarding different ideas every now and then, for his illusions.

"Asbestos?"

"What about snakes, loose in the building? That takes a wildlife specialist and I don't think we've got a ton of them in New York City, that might take awhile. Big, dangerous snakes?"

"Black mold?"

But when he moves, she follows. She has never seen this playing card trick before, but she plays along like it's perfectly normal, not double taking or looking concerned at all. It looks like the psychic paper trick from Dr. Who to her. It's not her favorite trick she's ever seen John use, but in this case it's being used for good, so she leaves it alone.

She passes with her hands in her pockets, taking her cues from John now. Whether it's Espresso Express, Melody fur Elise, or the apartments upstairs, she figures he will know where to go.

The card disappears back into…wherever. Presumably one of the pockets in his coat. "Maybe if the wildlife is endangered," he answers finally, demonstrable proof that whatever he's actually doing at any given moment may not necessarily be indicative of where is thoughts are. That seems to be all he wants to say on the matter, though, as they push through the door to the apartment building itself.

Just across the threshold is where he stops, with just enough room behind him for her to join him and let the door swing closed again. Low at his sides, his hands flex, fingers splayed, moving a little, as though he were toying with air currents, though there's no breeze to be felt. His head tips onto a slight angle, like a dog listening to something in a register beyond the perception of human ears.

"This building," he tells her, after long moments of silence broken only by the muffled sound of residents going about their business upstairs, "Is fucked."

There's no discomfort in his expression, but there's also not much of anything in it, which is as good a sign as any that he's keeping how he feels to himself. He starts for the stairs at a businesslike clip, and partway up slants his gaze downward toward the floor they're leaving behind. "There are loads of leyline crossings in New York," he says, seemingly apropos of nothing. "Not all of them are interconnected, which is interesting and a bit unusual, actually. I've a map back at the flat I could show you. We're over one now, but this one's out of order." As they ascend — and they do this slowly, because John's lungs are not in any condition to facilitate his sprinting up flights of stairs — he retrieves his phone from a pocket and whips off a text message. "Think of it like electricity. Some's clean, some's dirty. This is dirty. Like radiation."

Endangered and poisonous and capable of being in New York at all? Jessica Jones mentally goes back to the drawing board.

She also shuts up, because she can see he's working, and doesn't speak until he's rendering this opinion about the ley lines. She is at least following the bouncing ball in general terms, as she tends to do when he starts to educate her on matters pertaining to cases, and sets her mind to asking the best questions she can.

"What causes that? Is it something that just happens to them sometimes? Or does someone have to fuck with them?"

Content to amble up the stairs behind him, sliding her hands into her pockets, she looks down as if she could see polluted electricity beneath her feet, too. Of course, she absolutely can't, but it's just sort of a reflexive action. Or maybe she's trying to envision it, this dirty line running through the building, and frowns again.

"Is this just a really short line? If it's nasty shouldn't it be causing trouble for, I dunno, a straight line of buildings stretching on for miles? Or am I wrong in thinking they're really long ever in the first place?"

As usual, Jessica Jones has a gift for asking the right questions in spite of any lack of familiarity with the subject matter. It's one of the reasons John likes her; it makes his life easier not having to build a foundation of information from the ground up each and every time he introduces something new. It's also one of the reasons he's as free with information with her as he is: there aren't many people he feels might ask a question he didn't think of himself, but with people like Jessica or Zee — hell, or Jane, for that matter — it's always possible. "Couldn't give you a definitive list of all the possible causes. I doubt anyone even knows. Think of it like a stream, yeah? But made of energy. There are a lot of things that could cause a stream to change course or plug up. You see the symptoms and side-effects, but whether it's a dam or a landslide or trouble at the font — more difficult to say, most of the time. Which answers most of your other questions, as well. People can be responsible, but it can happen for less intentional reasons. They're long, yeah, but they don't express the same way at every point along each line. There are other factors involved. This spot feels ruptured, a bit."

He gains the third landing and that's where he decides to stop. "Better up here, yeah. Still not good. Feels to me like someone's just agitating the pre-existing condition of whatever bollixed the lines up in the first place." He sweeps the landing with his eyes, then returns them to her. "Certain types of magical energy share similarities with actual electricity, yeah? Hauntings, and that. You've seen those prats with EMF detectors on the telly, babbling about residual electromagnetic fields from hauntings. That's true, sometimes. Depends. Granted, I don't think any of them would recognize scientific method if it latched teeth onto their bell-ends, but whatever. Point is, exposure to that kind of thing can drive people a little bit crackers. The brain's sensitive to it."

And as usual, she enjoys what is essentially getting to hear a sort of private TED Talk on matters magical. No knowledge wasted, ever, even though she has no designs on magic for herself. The bits he's already dropped over their association of nearly a year now have sometimes given her what she needs to know in order to stop touching shit and call him, anyway, without leading to a lot of fumbling or trying to fit events into boxes of evidence that otherwise wouldn't make any sense.

Now onto the pragmatic.

"When you said the building was fucked do you mean fucked up, or do you mean, no, fucked forever? Is this something that can be fixed?" Because if it can't, this officially counts as a clusterfuck. The building itself could come down, only to get a new building later, repeating the process all over again. "Ruptured sounds pretty god awful." It also sounds like a huge, intensive project, fixing ley lines.

Then again, this is John who performed heart surgery on a God. If anyone can do it, he can.

"It's bloody rare for anything to be able to destroy a ley line. They're holdovers from-" For the first time he hesitates, bringing a hand up to palm at his stubbled jaw. "It's nothing to do with humanity. It predates us. Most of us. Odds are it can be fixed, but I can't tell you what it'll cost. Don't know enough about the origin of the problem." When he says 'cost,' it doesn't sound as though he intends to charge her for the privilege of his involvement. It sounds like something more fundamental than that.

In the silence that follows his expression turns uneasy, and after he rubs at his eyes he gestures with a tilt of his head. "C'mon. Let's clear out. We can talk more about it outside."

It sounds like one of those things magic takes away from people. Jessica nods grimly, but follows him outside. She's more than happy to be clear of the building, even though as best she can tell she is fine.

If that shit somehow penatrates her abilities to shrug it off, the last thing anyone needs is a paranoid woman who can punch through those walls like the Kool-Aid Man. Double that if John gets hit with this shit. Then they'd just really fuck things up together, probably. It just wouldn't end well for anyone.

She also decides not to press on the prehistoric origins of the lines; what she cares about is in the here and now.

Once outside, she casts it a pensive look. "Is there a less soul-eaty solution?" Soul-eat-y, her very technical term for All Magic Comes With a Price.

The closer the get to the ground floor, the more uneasy John looks. He has prodigious defenses against this sort of thing, but by the time they're outside his jaw is well set, and his long breath and slow exhale as they cross the street away from the Checkerbrick building is downplayed but nevertheless obviously relieved.

"It may not be that kind of cost. I just can't say for sure." From his pockets he produces his pack of cloves and the lighter Zatanna made for him, and he pairs the two together and is well into his second drag before he continues, having spent the intervening time thoughtfully weighing what little they know. "Your wards are designed to trigger when someone deliberately tries to muck about in your mind. They respond to an outside consciousness. This isn't that. This is just an incidental side-effect of sour ambient energy. I could try to put wards on the building itself, but it won't solve the problem. Plus, there's something else going on here, obviously. Until we know what that something is, trying to put a patch on things is like playing darts blindfolded. Ineffective and very likely to end in accidents."

"That means catching the Shapeshifter, then," Jessica says thoughtfully. No small task, that, catching someone who can be anyone with no idea of who that person might be or why they care to bother with the residents of the…

"John," Jessica asks slowly, "What would someone stand to gain from ramping up the effect of this thing?" She frowns. "Can they draw power from the violence that's caused? Or cause all that to feed back into the line somehow, to some nefarious end?"

If she can't track directly, a good qui bono is almost as useful. A good qui bono allows her to evaluate the associations of everyone in that building who has already fallen prey to this thing, combing through them for likely suspects.

Her musing gets a nod from him, small and sharp. The accrual of tension in him had been so slow inside of the building that he hadn't seemed much different, really, but the longer they're outside, the more it seems as though something in him is gradually letting go, noticeable only for its departure. "That's where I'd start. I'm going to ask 'round a few contacts of mine, see if they've heard something. About shapeshifters running about, and about the history of the building. Someone's got to know something."

The rest is not quite so easily answered, and so it's some time before he does, exhaling smoke into the orange light of an overhead street lamp. He begins by shrugging, which is probably not what she was hoping for. "Don't know. Magi come up with all sorts of bloody stupid things to try, always experimenting with one thing or another-" Nevermind this describes his life in absolutely accurate terms, "-so I could theorize, but I prefer to keep an open mind. I'll tell you this, though: whatever it is they're doing isn't good. This isn't to help anyone, unless it's maybe the person doing the pissing about. This kind of thing isn't going to produce something positive."

"Kind of guessed that bit by the murder, shooting and screaming," Jess says with a faint snort. But John looking into shapeshifters seems like a good course of action. She looks back at the building and shakes her head.

She forwards the pictures of the shapeshifter in shapeshifted form to his inbox, anyway. "If photos will help, you've got them now. I think the only useful thing I can do is sit surveillance on this thing for the next 48 hours or so, see if anyone suspicious comes back. Still can't figure out how to shut it down. Oh wait, maybe I can…unidentified, unfindable smell? Not corpse smell. Fish smell?"

When the pictures buzz his phone, John retrieves it from his pocket and has a look, then gestures with it. "You might forward these on to Red. Could have some facial recognition something-or-other, or at least be able to scour boards about cryptids and that. See if anybody's talking about having seen something strange."

When she turns the discussion back to possible means to empty the building, he pivots around to look at it again, as though there were some way he might divine some answer in the pattern of the exterior. Really, though, his frown is oriented around his dislike of the design choices. What a god-awful building. "That wouldn't officially clear anyone out, they'd have to leave on their own. Some might. But you yanks are sodding maniacs for staying at home. Not even a hurricane displaces you and that's when it's mandatory, so I'm not holding my breath."

"That's a good suggestion," Jessica says, and she does, keying in a quick e-mail. Maybe there are things the shapeshifter can't hide? Small tells? She'll take what she can get, and Red's bazillion dollar lab will certainly come in handy.

She sighs and says, "Yeah, I got nothing on this building thing," she admits. "It might at least get a few people out of the line of fire though. Darwinism is a thing. If a building with a bunch of shootings _and_ a bad smell doesn't scare them away, maybe they need one of those awards."

She doesn't mention how she also has never left in response to any hurricane. No need to look like a dumbass just because she was one.

"We don't want to wait too long. Worst case scenario we can torch the building, but they'll build on it again soon enough, and while I'm no stranger to the nuclear option? I'm not keen on putting a load of people on the street, even if it would be better than letting them stay there and eat one another alive. Think it over, anyway. I'll do the same. Could be 'tanna might have a suggestion, as well, so I'll run it past her."

He's through the clove in a record amount of time, putting it out against the side of the building they're standing beside. Where the butt goes is a mystery, but at least this time he doesn't leave it on the sidewalk. "When we know a little bit more, I'll get back in there. Maybe get down to the basement if there is one." His grimace says he's not looking forward to that. "But not yet. No sense in that kind of risk when we're not sure what we're dealing with yet."

All of this sounds more than reasonable to Jessica, and she nods thoughtfully.

Arson had totally crossed her mind as well, but she couldn't figure out how to make sure everyone was gone first.

She shoves her hands into her pockets, the urge for a smoke of her own coming on. But smoking has mostly served its intended purposes, and she really knows she really doesn't need to pick that habit back up long-term. Instead she says, "I really appreciate you coming on such short notice, John. I know there are 1,000 things vying for your attention. But, good news, now that nobody's on trial, if you catch a lead on the iDol case that I can work, or anything else…"

She hitches a shoulder, and says, "I'm around and ready as usual."

Her thanks gets little more than a shrug from him. He's not the type to be humble, and he isn't likely to linger on the readiness of availability for those he knows and likes, because that would mean he'd have to refer to liking anyone, and that's just not a card he likes to play. Mention of iDol, though, produces a different result altogether. His eyes tighten, crinkled at the corners briefly. "'tanna and I might have a way to talk to Emily Montrose," he says slowly, as though feeling his way through those words. It's a moment of addressing his own thoughts before his gaze shifts to her, inscrutable.

"Long story. We'll probably be trying soon, though, and it'd be good to have you there. Probably Red as well, since he's elbow deep in this shite just the same as everyone else."

"No shit? Yeah, I wanna be there," Jessica says quietly. "If we're including people who are knee-deep you might also consider DHK, though I mean if you don't want him in your flat that's understandable." Because John might be feeling the need to keep it down to the ones who have been in there before, and Jessica isn't trying to intrude on his comfort zone so much as she's reminding him there's another member of the investigative team floating around who might also have insight to offer, or at least be interested.

"Give me about 12 hour's warning before you want me, either way?"

The thought of inviting an unknown quantity to the flat doesn't seem to get a foothold on him. "Sorry, Jones. I don't know who he is or even what he can do. Best not." He won't ask, either; John pries into secrets routinely, but only when he has good reason to put someone else on the business end of his inquiring mind. For the most part he's a live and let live sort, hosting all manner of skeleton-filled closet, himself.

"I'll let you know, yeah. No worries. It'll take some doing to schedule, I expect. Red's busy with this Titans shite he's doing."

It was the answer she expected, and she doesn't seem too put out by it. It's the answer she would have given.

She forgets, sometimes, that he's a mask to everyone else, even as she guards the secret.

"Fair enough," she says, which seems to cover for all of it.

She looks up, then, looking for a good vantage point for surveillance. Spotting one she says, "Ok. It's gonna be a long night, so I'm going to head up to that perch over there and get on with it, and let you do your thing." Not that it's that pressing since she's watching the building even now, but the conversation is winding down, and it's been a stressful evening. Seems as good a time as any to get herself into position and to work. "See you, John."

One short nod later, and John is pivoting on the ball of his foot in preparation to go. He stops only one step into his wordless departure, turning slowly back to her and lifting a hand, palm toward her in a kind of staying gesture. "I know you haven't been affected yet, but…don't go in there if you can help it. Emergencies, fine, something goes down, yeah, but…no sightseeing. Alright? As much because everybody in there is a ticking time-bomb of psychosis as because we don't know what this is building toward. You're bloody tough, but there's no sense chancing it."

And with that advice given, he nods again, ticks his gaze over her assessingly, and then turns to go.

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