Demon Bear: Allies Gathered

December 25, 2017:

John Constantine and Zatanna question Moonstar about the Bear. Plans take shape.


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

It's a popular time for Danielle Moonstar.

Everyone seemingly wants a chance to speak with the woman.

A pity it's not under or for the best of circumstances.

Either way, when John Constantine, Zatanna Zatara and Danielle Moonstar made plans to meet to discuss *things*, Dani momentarily blanked for a spot. She could bring them up into the Mansion, or even into SHIELD HQ potentially, but for Moonstar that felt wrong. Too much on the books, for a meeting that potentially she doesn't want 'on the books'. As such, the woman gave a completely different address that leads to Westchester County.

It's a small bar/restaurant known as Harry's Hideway and it can be found within the fringes of Salem Center.

A favor was asked of Harry and now the Bar, while closed, is 'open' to Moonstar and 'friends'.

The black-haired woman can be found inside, settled near the bar top, as she waits for Constantine and Zatanna to arrive. Her expression is mostly grim, her gaze turned to the front entrance, though her eyes are mostly unfocused. The Cheyenne lost with whatever thoughts that are running through her head.

A quiver of arrows sits near Moonstar upon the bar top and to mystical senses the thrum of magic hums within it. Something that glows with the energy of the spirit world is held within that leather case.

Lastly, outside the snow falls in thick drifts. The storm itself continuing to gather strength with each passing day. Each passing hour, really.

It's Christmas.

Needless to say, the streets are for the most part empty, a state of affairs encouraged by the weather, which is — while charming as viewed through a window from beside a fireplace or wood stove — a surefire way for any vehicle to wind up stuck en route to more festive destinations.

If John were traveling alone, he would probably have arrived by car. Not his own, of course — one driven by Chas Chandler, in all probability. The English magus, in spite of the occasional indulgence, tends to rely on mundane means of doing things outside of the confines of his Brooklyn flat. He isn't alone, though — he's in the company of the far more well-known Zatara heiress, a face with some celebrity associated with it, for people who have an interest in entertainment of the sort. It's by the grace of her particular gifts that they arrive not far from their destination. Less than a block, all told, which is good: John doesn't like the cold. His spare frame, even wrapped in a trench coat with a scarf and a hat, handles the chill poorly.

He's silent as they approach.

The subject of the demon bear is unpleasant for both of them, but John has always been the more emotionally reticent of the two. Such is Zatanna's lot in life: to be connected with a man who doesn't want to talk about things, in spite of knowing full well at this point she can feel most of his roiling unhappiness through the thread that binds them. He'd wrapped a gift for Barnes and a gift for Jane in that same, stony silence, and shoved them far to the back of the bedraggled, small evergreen not much improved on the one he found last year, which Zee had taken to calling the Christmas Bush. This quietly, grudgingly hopeful gesture on his part in no way cancels out the lingering wrath or itch for vengeance that wash over him every time he thinks about what happened.

A swirling storm of conflicting things, he stands for a silent beat on the threshold of an unfamiliar venue, takes a short breath, and then pulls the door open to hold it aside for his companion, then follows her through, sweeping his hat from his head in one of those nods to English manners that always seem slightly at odds with the rest of his rough-cut personality.

Blue eyes find Dani from across the small span of space, and any part of her sensitive to magic will probably feel it: the way he's probing her. Looking for traces that she's still something other than herself. It's not a distrust that he makes any effort to conceal, either, and he openly glances at the young, raven-haired witch beside him, seeking consensus.

It's Christmas and had the circumstances been different, it is a holiday that she normally enjoys. One would think that Halloween would be her day of choice, but the end of the year and all that it entails simply fits her personality more. Always generous, always open, Zatanna Zatara is the type to wrap presents with all the trimmings, and sit for hours in anticipation upon giving them, wondering if they'll be well-received, and the part of her that is still very much a young woman can't help but be excited at the prospect of surprises, the loot that she'll acquire from the people she loves and, hopefully, the people who love her.

But the present situation puts a more muted expression on her customary effervescence there. John's own emanations probably do not help, but while the link exists and gives her a picture of his present state, she knows better than to pick at it. He may love her, but she has also been the most eager recipient of his sharper, cutting edges whenever his anger has been stirred.

Jane might've said that they don't need them anymore, but Zatanna Zatara was never one to follow what anyone tells her, especially when she has her own grand ideas as to how to do things. Stubborn and implacable by nature, especially when someone needs saving, the suggestion that she ought to leave her and Bucky to their dark and soulless states had been unacceptable to her, but in order to retrieve what they need, they would need answers first and their best chances of getting anything significant lies in the unfamiliar face they've managed to encounter along the way.

Danielle Moonstar is a mystery to her. She has never heard of the woman before, but whatever insight she has may prove valuable in the days to come.

A portal tears through empty space, framed with a white-blue haze and speckled with crimson sparks. Her newfound confidence in her abilities no matter her most recent and frightening set of injuries leaves this a stable and powerful thing, expending ripples all across the metaphysical sphere. There is an old saying within their community (see: magic users) that Giovanni Zatara can't take a piss without causing some kind of ephemeral ruckus somewhere - his only child, the hybrid get of a human and something else, is well on her way in carrying on the tradition.

She is making her own assessment of Dani when the portal shuts behind them; there's a brief lock of gazes and a silent nod, before she picks up her feet and approaches the Cheyenne at the bar.

"Danielle," she greets. "How are you feeling, any complications?"

There might be something they're not sensing, after all.

Christmas. Dani might not even realize today is Christmas. Her life stopped for so many weeks and now the black-haired woman is having trouble staying current with the calendar.

And even if she does realize what today is, she's not necessarily up to celebrating such a family focused holiday. Not with things as they are.

A beer is slowly being nursed by the Cheyenne and while it's nearly finished, the drink is set aside when she hears the door open. She can't help but hear the faint sound of it opening thanks to the Bar being empty save herself. The only thing Harry asked was for her to lock up behind herself - which she will do.

Either way, the woman's brown-eyes sharpen and regain their focus with the conventional and non-conventual arrival of John and Zatanna. While her magical senses may not be as attuned as either of the two before her, Dani has enough to feel the assessment from both magical practitioners.

They'll find the woman with soul returned. It's clear she's no longer a thrall of the Bear, but there's still the vaguest of filaments that lead off into the ether. It's not a cord of control, or a rope of command, but a link that bespeaks of familial obligations. Of lineages and ancestry. Danielle Moonstar has a connection to two of the souls still held within the Bear's shadows.

The magical item that's behind her, upon the bar-top, continues to hum with the energy of life. Of goodness and light, of something that eats away the darkness found around and within.

Silently, the Cheyenne waits for the evaluation to conclude, her gaze flicking from Constantine to Zatanna, before she sets that bottle of beer atop the bar. When she turns back Zatanna offers that greeting and asks that question of hers. It's enough to cause Dani to wince, a flash of guilt chasing itself across her features, but that doesn't stop her from answering. "Fine. I'm fine, thanks. How are you both doing?" She asks, even as she forces herself to meet first Zatanna's and then John's eyes.

It would be nice to say that John's expression is one exclusively of sympathy. That he chooses to set aside his grievances with the thing she's become associated with and focus entirely on the fact that this woman has also been a victim — worse, probably, than either he or Zatanna, in many ways. Grievous injury and threat of death are terrible, but the two magicians that approach her place at the bar know better than most that those are a long way from the worst things a person can suffer.

But John is John, the matter is personal, and so the stark, brilliant blue of pale blue eyes remains slightly aloof, cutting in the way they watch her but inscrutable, too. Zatanna asks her the more socially palatable questions, and he stands there and instead spends a moment weighing the nature of whatever it is that Dani has in her quiver.

"Been better, if you want the truth." He settles in with one elbow on the stretch of bar to one side of Dani, slightly behind Zee. His attention is relentless. "I hope you've got answers for us, luv."

Ice-blue eyes soften in spite of the tension, Zatanna falling a step closer to John and the bar. They wander past, briefly, towards the bar and to survey the row of bottles she finds there, but if she wants a drink, she is presently staving off the urge. There is an inquiring glance towards the Englishman, however, the question in her eyes - whether he wants anything. She is, as always, indulgent, especially when he is simmering in those occasional black moods.

But once Dani starts to speak, she draws her attention to her, unerringly, her focus drifting past the Cheyenne and into the ether; her encounter with the Scarlet Woman has kept her third eye wide open, and while she has improved in her control since then, moments like these seem to take her especially when there's a trail to follow. She would be continuously adrift, these days, if it were not for the presence of her soul-tether with John, so talented in keeping the entire room's attention on him whenever he needs. That tendency of his has proven a bane and she has used him as an anchor on many occasions since.

"You're still attached to them," she says, her stare sharpening when she finally stops following the strange emanations. "Do you think we can track them if we used your bond? I don't know how long it will last….we might have to make the attempt sooner, rather than later."

Slowly, she finally sinks into a barstool. "Do you know much about the thing we're dealing with?"

The arrow, for that's the shape that reveals itself within the halo of energy, feels similar to the bone artifact. Ancient magic to be felt. Ancient voices to be heard.

John's words bring a tilt to Dani's head and another grimace of expression to flicker across her features. "I prefer truth. Even if it's not always what I want to hear." She states, her gaze shifting between the two as Zatanna takes up the role of bartender.

The mention of answers brings Dani's attention back to the man briefly, "I have some." She agrees, then it's over to Zatanna, when she speaks again. "I am, and yes, I think we can use it to either track it for an ambush, or potentially bring it to us. It just depends on what we want to do." She uses that we in the broad sense, as Dani includes others that aren't necessarily here with them.

Settling upon a nearby barstool, Dani says, "I don't know everything about the Bear, but I can tell you what I do know." And for a few minutes the Cheyenne falls quiet. Marshaling her thoughts, gathering them even, looking for the best way to tell this story, but before she begins the sordid tale Dani states. "First - I'm sorry for everything." Her words hold a formality to them, a stiffness that only eases as she continues to speak, "Those enslaved by the Bear's will lose all the typical notions of right versus wrong. We did what the Bear wanted and the Bear saw you both as dangerous. Not that that makes it right -"

"Anyway. Let me tell you what I know -"

"The Bear started as a man. A man who's family were cursed, if you will, with the power of the bear. The man tried to remove the curse but whatever he tried failed. It put the Bear in charge and he became its first victim. My parents were next and with each soul the Bear's power grew. Still, my parents were able to banish it for a time. When it came back this time it was pretty angry. Long story short, it knew it needed to do something different to stay within this world, to succeed in getting me. That's what caused it to capture the other souls - your friends. Only, I don't expect it ever thought it would find itself leashed by them. A thrall to the Wolf and the Bird."

And here Dani pauses, to see what questions they both might have, somewhat unaware of how she referenced Jane and Bucky.

John meets that momentary and solicitous glance from Zee, and answers it with a small shake of the head — no drink. For the very briefest of moments, less than the span of time it takes for his heart to beat once, the lidding of his eyes softens something in him. Not much, but enough. It's difficult to say what his mood might have been if he'd come alone, without Zatanna. It's easy enough to see that she keeps something in him in check, or shores up some sort of restraint.

The next time his focus changes at all, it's to lift a disinterested, even dismissive hand to forestall any further apologizing or explanations, a little ripple of impatience in the angular lines of his face. He doesn't explain why, but as she launches into her explanation of how the whole sordid affair began, some of the accumulating tension bleeds off. Progress, momentum, information, options: few things smooth his ruffled feathers like leads to follow or a direction in which to aim himself.

He breaks the silence of her waiting pause with a short exhale, not quite a snort. "The hubris of humans, only matched by our celestial bloody counterparts." Pale eyes flick sidelong at Zee's profile, thoughtfully wandering the set of her expression, and then snap back to Dani. "I've had about enough of running into this thing unprepared. Barnes and Foster know more about us than it did, so their being in charge is marvelous news." The words are dry, brittle in tone. "What I want to know from you, Miss Moonstar, is whether or not we can get them back, and whether you know how that works. If we've got to invent something from scratch…" Another glance at Zee. "It's not that we've not done that before, but we'd be guessing. Educated guesses, yeah, but still guessing. I don't care to mess about anymore. If we can't pull them back out of it, we may as well raze the bloody thing to the ground and have done with it. It nearly did for the both of us."

He pauses, and with a slight flicker of honey-dark lashes, makes the concession: "The three of us."

Her reaction to the tale is different from John's; the fact that the thing is so closely tied to Dani's own personal history - a responsibility passed down, now, through the blood - is the last thing she expected to hear. It had been easy to assume from the beginning that the Cheyenne was simply an innocent bystander, swept into this by the same tides that cause the trouble around John and Zatanna. The tendency to focus on their small group often leaves her nearsighted to the possibility that there are others out there that generates the same, and she feels the boot that takes towards denting her pride. Because something this powerful doesn't just spring out of nowhere and she knows better than to think otherwise; determined, dangerous forces like the one they are presently dealing with often do not do these things just to cause mayhem.

John's more cynical take has her tilting her attention towards him sidelong, before diverting her attention back to Dani's face and those far-flung traces of that ephemeral bond, tethering her to lost souls. If there is any hesitation in her part with respect to what John says about performing scorched earth tactics, it barely registers on her pale, blue-eyed features. Lashes lower, however, glancing at the bar, because she would rather not acknowledge that if it needs to be done, it will be done…

"If Danielle can be returned, I can't see why there wouldn't be any hope for Jane and Bucky," she replies. Though theirs might be a trickier process - the woman before them hadn't been transformed, while the other two have, and not only that but now the Bear was under their thrall. "Do you know what your tethers actually link you to? Them in their physical states, or something else?"

She slips her hands in her pockets. "Their souls are still missing, if we could just find them, there's a chance. Of course, they seem adamant about not…having them back, so it'll be a fight either way. I don't think I've ever come across a case before where a body has rejected a soul - empty vessels are often hungry for them - unless there's already one inside it."

Which is why she asks the question she does.


Those dry words of John's earns a sardonic nod from the black-haired woman.

Marvelous indeed.

That moment of black humor doesn't last long however, as it leaches away when the talk shifts to more serious matters, more serious concerns.

She listens to what both John and Zatanna have to say. The questions they ask. The concessions they be forced to make.

"I believe we can." She states first, addressing that particular question on whether Bucky and Jane's souls can be saved. "As long as their bodies are intact we should be able to force the souls back into their physical selves." Idly Dani reaches out to touch the quiver that sits upon the bar-top, but before she can divulge what exactly the weapon is, Zatanna asks that question about the soul-tether.

Here Dani closes her eyes, her own quieter senses extending outward, along the filament that connects her. "I do." Comes her answer, as the Valkyrie opens her eyes, "My parents - in fact, I can sense them now. Both of their souls reside within the Bear's shadow. It's where all the souls are. It's what gives the Bear its power. Without those souls the Bear would be weak, easily defeated by us."

Circling back to some of what John said, Dani adds, "I don't believe we'll need to make a weapon. I've a sacred arrow here - which should weaken the Bear. Push its shadows away and aside to reveal the souls within. When that happens we grab them and go. I might be able to take a hold of those souls myself, but if not a friend has a sword that can help."

"It sounds easy." She continues with, her tone turning grim, "But it won't be. The Bear is flush with power and I can only imagine what your friends are doing. If I were in their shoes I'd be shoring up defenses and adding as many souls as I could for as much power as possible. They know we're going to attack, just potentially not when."

Cynicism and ill-feeling, impatience and dry, dark sarcasm. They're all excellent layers of armor against the bedrock truth beneath everything, which is this:

John tends to lose the people closest to him.

He guards himself against that as best he can by keeping people at a distance, but somehow Barnes and Foster — and a few select others — have managed to slip in past his defenses, and more bafflingly to him than that is the way he's allowed them to stay there, even after everything. Those two once pulled he and Zatanna from the very jaws of Hell. Perhaps that's what ultimately tipped the scales, and left him feeling as though he couldn't turn them away.

But this, and moments like this, are a sharp reminder as to why he does. He's a battered vessel at best, full of hairline fissures, and he's lost more than any man ought to lose (though he's been complicit, most of the time — and really, that just makes it worse). His bottomless, white-hot, semi-irrational fury with Barnes aside, the risks of buying into the belief that they can be saved only to have that turn out to be wrong are so monumentally huge for someone like John that it's safer, almost, to doubt.

Most of the time he's only separated from the brink of genuine madness by a hair's breadth, anyway. As the bear so cruelly reminded him, the maw of Ravenscar is always just behind him, waiting for him to step wrong, slip, and fall.

So: there's talk of all of the theory involved, all of which he knows…but he doesn't seem prepared to sign on even to embrace tentative optimism. At least he holds his tongue, and avoids assaulting them with the worst of his dour outlook.

"Right. Are their bodies in there, as well? Foster's seemed to be. What about all the rest of the sorry sods in there? What happens to them?"

The rest of his outlook is dour, though, and he doesn't spare them his worst-scenario thinking. "The longer we give them to prepare, the worse it'll be. Foster has possession of her mind, and it's a weapon well before it starts pissing demonic energy. Barnes has a lifetime of survival and strategy under his belt. It's already bad, luv. It'll only get worse." In the quiet, the sound of stubble rasping beneath this thumbnail as he scrapes it down the length of his jaw is audible. In the pause he scrutinizes this woman he hardly knows at all, debating with himself, and ultimately coming to a decision with a soft sigh of resignation.

"We've got a relic that you might make more use of than we can. They were after it in the museum that night. We can use it, but we're not exactly the custodians of the tradition it came from, get me? As t'is I think I've pissed off enough ancient spirits for the year by taking liberties. I'm full up."

"What John is saying is that you will have to control the relic," Zatanna tells the Cheyenne quietly, but only after a long pause; her silence is borne from all the things John doesn't say, feeling the ghosts of them through the astral link that they share. It keeps her normally brilliant personality tempered to a dull glow - her usual recklessness shelved. Typically once they've managed to put together a small percentage of a plan, she will be the first to go haring off, to meet the next set of obstacles head on. Her changes have not twisted that into something else, both a curse and a boon, still. At least it is more subtle now - sitting like this would normally bring about a type of restless leg syndrome that would unfailingly annoy anyone who sees it, but she manages to keep a good posture, for a change.

That won't last either, once they get home.

John's question about the other sorry sods in the Demon Bear is a legitimate one and there's a glance at his direction. He does that without fail, picking up other considerations that she fails to make given the way she tends to jacknife straight into a confrontation. But as he collects more nuggets of knowledge from someone leagues more knowledgeable about the entity they're dealing with than either of them, she turns her attention to Dani's earlier words. She already knows it won't be easy, the question, in the end, is how complicated the plan is going to have to be.

Finally: "You're connected to this thing," she begins slowly. "Not just peripherally, but directly. By the soul, by history. How possible is it to use you as a conduit to bring just the Demon Bear to us and leave the Wolf and the Bird behind? I've never done a forced teleport before, but with the right elements, like a particularly strong and direct connection, it can be done. We can set mystical perimeters to keep anyone or anything extraneous out while we do the grisly work of excising the souls out of the Bear, because I'm certain that once it disappears, Jane and Bucky will go on looking."

Something John says causes Dani's eyebrows to pinch low, shadowing her already troubled gaze. Finally though, understanding dawns, "What we fought at the museum." Dani explains, "That wolf and the bird, that is their physical bodies. The Bear bestows *gifts* upon the physical selves of those it took souls from. If we destroy them while in wolf or bird form, then we destroy their bodies. IF that happens once we release their souls they'll move onward to the afterlife."

Which she could technically escort them to.

And while others might announce that declaration with some sense of hesitancy, not Dani. Her words are stated with utter confidence as the tug of the afterlife is keenly felt for three of those bodiless souls already.

The mention of that relic, the one that burned the Bear that night, earns a ghost of remembered pain to flicker over Dani's face. "Yes. I think we should definitely bring that artifact with us. For this final battle. It can only help."

And while there's agreement there from Dani about how ill-prepared they are to fight against Jane's mind and Bucky's readiness for war, it's Zatanna's last statement that brings Dani's attention around. "I -" Starts the woman, her expression thoughtful, "Never thought of that." That admission causes the woman to twist her lips into something that might charitably called a smile, but really it's something more wry than friendly. "But possibly it could work. I don't see why it wouldn't. But like you said once they realize the Bear is gone they'll come looking. We'll need people to hold the line while we get the souls out of its shadow - whether that's with the arrow, the other relic, the sword or a combination of both. However, if we have to enter the shadow to retrieve them, well, I'd advise offering up some prayers if either of you are the religious sort."

"There's others I'll be calling on to help too - Emery, who has powers similar to the Bear, Doctor Strange, my friend with the sword. If there's anyone you would like included with this little strike force by all means, bring them."

''I never thought of that,'' Dani says, and for the first time tonight there's something like a smile from John, thin and flinty as it may be. "She's good at that. S'why I keep her 'round."

He says it as though that's the only reason, which isn't the kind of lie John usually tells. Typically, he sticks to the sort that other people are going to believe.

…Which doesn't make it less true in a broader sense. She sees things he doesn't, because she's engineered differently: John is a trapper, a plotter. He's scrappy, as any product of Liverpool's poverty-stricken lower class must be, but he's made an entire career out of outmaneuvering people and things — not cutting his way through them. No…that's really more the purview of the fair-skinned young lady on the stool in front of him, for all that appearances might suggest that he's the one to keep one's eye on in a dark alley.

Lidded eyes linger on the side of her face as he mulls over the proposal. "Booting their souls out first, then?" Blue eyes shift from Zatanna to Dani. "The way you put it, it sounds as though you don't think their souls are going to forcefully reinhabit these altered corpora. You said, if we destroy the bodies once we release the souls, then the souls pass on. So, say we do this — port the bear in, slap it around in a cage match until it coughs up all of these souls — what then? Can it get them back? They're just, out there? Floating about?" His brows stitch together. "I'm not sure I fancy leaving all of that swirling around out there without a plan. There are loads of things that could take advantage."

Pushing one shoulder back, his eyes tighten and he follows the movement into a backward lean against the bar's edge, thinking his way through what little they've gleaned from exposure to the creature itself. It has a lot of resonances with the…thing…they'd encountered in astral space. A bundle of disparate souls, not consumed, not fuel, but wound together-

His reminiscing is interrupted by a familiar name that coaxes a very theatrical response out of him. His eyes roll up behind his lids and his head tilts back. "That wanker."

Zee probably already knows what's coming.

"How'd you get mixed up with a bad crowd like his? Yeah, I know, they tell you: 'the popped collar and the dishwashing gloves, it's bad, alright, yes, but it's all offset by limitless power over time and space!' And you think, 'strewth, sign me up. Then you find out the broomstick up the arse is also compulsory. You've got to read the fine print, luv."

"We can probably wrangle a few others to hold the line. I'm not without a superhero team at my beck and call," Zatanna says, when Danielle brings up the very good point that there will have to be others to hold the line. The very purpose of the Titans is to provide a support network for those like her, young people with supernormal talents, legacies of the greater shadows that have come before them. And really, what is the use of having a membership if she won't be able to use the network now and then? "If it's muscle you need, I have plenty I can call upon and I'm certain quite a few of them will be up for the task."

Still, the surprise on Moonstar's features, and John's own aside, has the young woman smiling faintly, lifting her shoulders in a shrug. Because it's true; as far as appearances go, it's easy to assume the opposite - tall, broad-shouldered and rough on the edges, John wears his Liverpool roots on him like second skin, the kind of guy one would expect to pull brass knuckles out of nowhere and break a jaw. Zatanna, meanwhile, looks very much like the celebrity she is being groomed to be, elegant, long-limbed and rounded in the right places, with large pale eyes liable to drown anyone who stares at them too close. It does not change the fact that while creative in her own right, she is the magical bruiser of the two, endless wells of power at her disposal - the sort of person one places in the front lines of any full scale war.

Though she still does this - depends on John to fine-tune whatever she comes up with. The years have only solidified their working relationship, even if one pulls their more intimate one out of the equation; they've always complemented each other well in the field. "We'd have to come up with some kind of apparatus to keep the souls shut in and kept away from the Bear. I think with what Danielle was saying, once the souls are out of it, it'll be depleted and easily destroyed. We'll need a place to contain them until then. That shouldn't be hard to craft, though I think you'll have to be the one to keep a hold of it just in case."

And then, Strange.

The rant that follows puts a spark of amusement back in those ice-blue eyes, a tilt of her head towards the Englishman as he goes on. One of his better known catchphrases tumbles in the space in between them, and for the first time since she has arrived, she actually laughs. An amused expression turns to Danielle, positively incandescent with mischief. "He's his biggest fan," she fibs. "Really."

Those first words of John's causes the woman to glance between the two. And while Dani doesn't necessarily know these two very well it's clear to her that the two are a pair.

It's enough to pull a faint smile from the woman, before her expression shifts to thoughtful again. Contemplative. "Their souls might not. They could be confused. They've been in the shadows long enough that they might not realize what to do once freed." As to whether the Bear could re-take the souls Dani nods, before she adds to the talk of soul containment, "We should definitely create something to contain them. Emery or myself should be able to grab the souls, but depending on how the fight goes a back-up plan as a just in case would be good."

And while Dani was about to say more about soul-traps, John's reaction to the mention of Doctor Strange is heard. It's enough to cause the woman's eyebrows to raise upward towards her hairline even as she flashes a quick grin, and a quiet chuckle at John's diatribe against Strange. "Not quite the reaction I was anticipating." States the Cheyenne, even as she turns her amused eyes to Zatanna. "Yes, I can really /tell/ he's a true fan. When I speak with the good Doctor later I'll make certain to get an autograph for you both."

John's flat look would not be out of place on a cat that someone had just chucked into a bucket of water. "Yes, well. I'm sure everyone's always very bloody twitterpated to be in the presence of-" He pauses, lifts both hands as though painting a grand marquis. They're elegant in a way the rest of him isn't — but then, he ''is'' a magician. "-the Sorcerer Supreme~!" His disdain could choke a donkey. "Supreme pillock. Don't put a lot of stock in pomp and circumstance, it's not worth much."

There's a pause. It's very…grudging.

"Still…I suppose it can't hurt to have another pair of hands in the mix."

It causes him something very nearly like physical pain to say those words, and he's swift to push past them, sending the splayed fingers of one hand back into the tousled gold-and-brown strands of hair atop his head. "We'll work on failsafes, then, and count on you two to net them when we rip them out. Meantime…"

His hand falls away. He lifts his bowed head. When blue eyes land on Danielle's tired face, they take it in for the first time with a look in them that suggests she's anything other than a tool or a resource; he looks at her, finally, like a person. "If you need wards set up where you are to keep them out, any sorts of charms for protection…we can probably arrange for that. I doubt they've taken kindly to your escaping the fold, as it were."

"There you go, John. You have your autograph."

All said with a grin, incandescent under the half-light of the bar. With some semblance of a plan set, however, Zatanna finally slips off the bar stool, re-adjusting the crimson scarf draped around her neck and shoulders - a blazing, vibrant affair against all of her signature gothic blacks. "I can get started on working on a container right away. Diamonds are best." John knows that well, considering what he swallowed in hell. "Luckily Shadwocrest has a surplus."

Hands finally pull out her gloves, tugging them on her fingers. "I'll keep you posted. You'll do the same, yeah?"

That amusement lingers at both John and Zee continue to offer their quips about Strange and autographs.

It's only as the conversation shifts back to the matter at hand, that Danielle's expression shifts back to seriousness.

And that serious mien cracks slightly at the offer of wards and charms. A briefly stricken look flashes across her features, full of remorse and guilt, "I'm okay, thank you." She manages, even as she reaches for the quiver and the sacred arrow within. "A friend's done something similar for me so I should be good."

Like Zee, Dani slips off her own barstool as the meeting wraps up, "And I'll definitely keep both of you in the loop, especially if something changes between then and now."

"Thank you for helping. I appreciate it and I'm sure your friends will too." Dani adds, even though some of those words are hard for her to say. After all, not asking for help with the Bear initially is what got her here in the first place.

"Merry Christmas." Comes her final words, showing that Dani does know what day it is.

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