Hospital Visits

November 06, 2014:

Kitty visits Constantine in the hospital after the Poltergeist incident. They argue about qualifications.

Gotham Hospital

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

John Constantine looks like he's living the high life. Propped up in a hospital bed, he's shirtless, bandages wrapped around his ribcage. Bandages are on his forehead and arms, and a few IVs are running into his left arm. He's clicking through daytime trash TV with an irritated, bored expression, doing card tricks with his free hand with idle, careless motions. It's only been two days since he fell out the window, and the bruises are forming in a lovely pattern all over his body.

*

Kitty, on the other hand, peeks her head into Constantine's room looking like the proverbial cat that fell into the fish tank. "Heyyyy," she greets, not yet entering. The trench coat is draped over her arm again, almost like it never left. "How are you feeling?" she asks, eyes flicking to the daytime TV and then back to the Brit on the hospital bed. Lifting her arm up with the coat on it like a peace offering, she adds, "I brought your coat back."

*

Constantine waves an exhausted arm at Kitty, making the cards collapse into a neat deck and setting them aside. "Hey stranger," he rasps, turning his head with a minimal amount of effort. "Thanks for holding that for me. It's not the kind of thing that should fall into the wrong hands. Want a… chocolate milk?" he asks weakly, gesturing at an unopened paper carton on his little bedstand. "I'm afraid that's the best I can offer."

*

Stepping into the room, Kitty smiles and watches the deck of cards collapse and then be put aside. "Of course. I, uh, I may have…" She sets the coat down on the edge of the bed and the smile turns sheepish. "Are you the crazy British version of Mary Poppins? I almost lost Lockheed in one of your pockets." Stepping toward one of the uncomfortable hospital chairs, she shakes her head. "Thank you, but no. I try and make it a habit of taking an injured man's food or drink."

*

"Mary Poppins /was/ British," Constantin rebukes Kitty with a wry smile. He gestures for her to come near the hospital bed, reaching for his coat and jamming a hand into one of the pockets. "Made a right mess in here. Still, could have been worse. Thanks for holding it for me." He tosses the coat onto a chair and wincing, leans back against the bed. "Glad I gave it to you. You seemed trustworthy enough. Some people would have taken that coat straight to the nearest government agency for a fat reward."

*

"Yes, I know, which is why I added the crazy part in the beginning." Kitty crosses her legs and props one of her elbows on her knees. "Poppins was proper, not crazy." There's an implied grin to her statement with fades into something more embarrassed when he starts rooting through the pockets. "It started out innocently enough. But, then, I wanted to figure out how much stuff you had in there. Don't think I even got close to the bottom." And she tried. After all, she's curious and determined. As for being trustworthy, she grins. "Mutants don't tend to trust the government. Though, I have worked with SHIELD once or twice."

*

Constantine chuckles dryly, wincing immediately. "Just as long as you put it all back," John tells Kitty, finally folding the jacket up and tossing it onto a convenient chair. "I'm not sure they even have a bottom, anymore. Magic jacket- it only works properly if you think about what you need when you reach into it. Sometimes it gives you what you need, not what you want. Bloody handy."

Constantine reaches towards a juicebox with clumsy, drug-addled fingers and brings it to his lips, taking a sip. His core is so stiff and bandage-wrapped that movement is nigh impossible. "I guess I owe you a thank you. I don't know that I would have survived those damn ghosts if you hadn't shown up."

*

"Well, it must have bugged out when I was attempting. Or a bit trickster, as all I wanted to see was if it had a bottom." Kitty grins. That's probably why it refused to show her one. "I put everything back. I promise. It may just not be as organized as it was before. If it was organized. I don't know how people would sort their pockets. But, it does seem a useful trick to have."

The phasing mutant watches his addled movements and nods once. "Of course. I wasn't about to leave you to get fanged by some blue blobby things. Not after you fell out a window. Also, you didn't get mad about me going through your magic coat's pockets. I'll say we're square."

*

Constantine reaches for a pack of pretzels, trying to open them with stiff fingers, two of them taped together and one bearing a pulse monitor. The bag slips from his fingers and hits the floor. The magician sighs tiredly, leaning his head against the pillows supporting his neck.

"Hard to get mad at someone for being curious," Constantine says wearily. "I'd have done the same, I imagine. Someone hands you a coat, you wonder what they've got squirreled away. Old cheese and cracker snacks, theatre stubs, cash, ID, floss… you can learn a lot about a man from his pockets."

He lolls his head towards Kitty, dark circles under his eyes underscoring the pain he's in. "Did you learn anything interesting playing amateur detective?"

*

"Not really, other than you have a lot of things in your pockets. And that I shouldn't leave my dragon friend around it, because he's curious and likely to get lost." Kitty studies the injured Constantine and gives him a bit of a reassuring smile. "I learned that you're the kind of man that fights ghosts and has never ending pockets. And is apparently a kind of Harry Potter."

As for the person being curious, she shrugs her shoulders. "I know I shouldn't, but when someone tells me I absolutely should not look through their pockets without a good reason why I shouldn't, it makes me want to immediately look through them."

*

Constantine waves a hand dismissively. "Curiousity is a good trait," he assures Kitty. "Too many people lose it or forget it. Once you lose curiousity, you lose your sense of wonder. Once you've lost that, you might as well sign up for a cubicle, nine to five."

He lids his eyes for a moment and exhales slowly, nursing his ribs. "I'm not a kind of Harry Potter. That's tripe fiction for kids. I'm John Constantine. I'm paranomal investigator, exorcist, and dabbler in the dark arts," he tells Kitty. "I deal with the occult professionally. Someone has to," he says grimly.

*

"Oh, I don't know, it gets pretty dark at the end. Lots of people die, facism overlays, it's not just kid stuff." Kitty smiles, though, already realizing that she knows the ways to rile the injured British detective. "And I'm Kitty Pryde, teacher of Computer Sciences," she replies with just as much importance and meaning in her voice. "And, I guess, someone has to help out random paranormal investigators when they fall out windows while trying to get a magazine." Which is what she may describe herself as.

*

"Nice to meet you, Professor Pryde." Constantine coughs a few times, weakly, the motion clearly pain-producing. "Glad you have a side hobby of helping detectives in distress. I wouldn't make a habit of it. That's a good way for some demon to come along and decide to rip your face off in the interest of giving me a guilt complex. People who get too close to me tend to end up as infeneral Alpo mix. I wouldn't recommend you get into the habit of helpig me out of jams," Constantine says. He reaches for his evening Jell-O, feebly, the snack a few inches too far out of reach for the man with the broken ribs.

*

Kitty laughs slightly. "Just Ms. Pryde. I don't work at a college or anything. Just a boarding school." Standing, she picks up the Jell-O cup and moves it close enough for Constantine to handle. In fact, she also picks up the spoon, willing to feed the poor bruised detective should he allow it. "And, believe me, if you've head the amount of times someone has told met hat I would get hurt because I was helping them, well, you'd have heard it a lot of times. I've dealt with demons before. A whole gang of them. They're not my favorite people and if I can take them out, then I will." Beaming at him with something akin to put on cheer, she holds a spoon of green gelatin in a spoon. "It doesn't have to be all about you. Now, eat your Jell-O."

*

Constantine gives Kitty a gaze that would be withering if it wasn't for all the drugs in his system, but he doesn't argue. After all- Jell-O. Clearly unable to hold his arms aloft for more than a few seconds, he relents and lets Kitty spoon-feed him, his motions defiant and weak.

"You're a brave lass. I like that," Constantine says between bites of gelatin. "Not a lot of people have run up against monsters from the beyond and lived to tell the tale. Most go running, if they're smart. The foolish ones end up dead, or worse." He winces, shiftinga bit to try and stay upright, to no avail. "And believe me, worse is a much bigger deal than dead in my line of work," Constantine assures Kitty. He lifts a hand weakly, managing to put two fingers on Kitty's wrist, looking up at her with clear blue eyes ringed by dark circles. "I don't want another death on my conscience," he mutters weakly.

*

At the attempted withering glare, Kitty only beams more. It's like she lives for this sort of thing. Carefully, the young mutant spoons the Jell-O toward Constantine's mouth, making sure she doesn't spill any on him if he can help it.

"Yeah, well, what are you? You didn't go running and you're not dead." It's a bit of flaw in his logic and at the hand placed on her wrist, her motions stop mid feeding. Finding Constantine's gaze, she returns it with a steady one of her own. "Well, that's not exactly your call to make. And, like I said, it's not all about you. As far as I know, they'll try and kill you to make me feel guilty. Like I said, I've dealt with demons before. And maybe my conscience can't handle that."

*

Constantine tries to stare down Kitty, but he's a bit too weak and worn to hold her steady gaze. He lifts his chin at the Jell-O, resting his head against the pillows again.

"You're probably the only person on Earth who'd feel guilty about me dying," Constantine says with a wry chuckle. "Most would be happy to see me trucked off in a bodybag. …Some would make the trip to the Pit just to watch me burn," the magician rasps. "I'm lucky and I know how to fight back against these things. That gives me an edge over most folk who go against the horned fiends."

*

Constantine can try to stare her down, but she's used to many different people trying to tell her that she's in over her head. Or that this is dangerous territory. She never listened to them, either.

"I think you'd find you're wrong about that. But, I'm just saying, I've got my own demons. Some of them literal. Don't think it's all about you." Once he's resting back on the pillows again, she resumes with the Jell-O spooning. "And you should rest. If you've really got a bunch of people trying to kill you, you need your strength. And some Jell-O. Are you always this dramatic?"

*

"It's only drama or paranoia if there /aren't/ invisible demons out there waiting to rip your face off," John says, wearily. "And I am resting. I've been on my ass for an entire day. Nipped out for a quick drink yesterday- drove the nurses a bit mad, but that's what they're paid for, right? Can't keep a good man away from his booze," Constantine says, coughing. "And my flask was in my jacket." He accepts another bite of the gelatin, more out of necessity than pride. He looks a bit displeased at being force-fed, but he also doesn't appear to have a lot of options.

"What do you mean, literal demons?" Constantine asks Kitty. "Pretty lass like you shouldn't be worried about anything more than boys and clothes shopping."

*

"I guess you're right," Kitty smiles. With a shake of her head and a roll of her eyes, she spoons another mouthful of quivering green gelatin toward him. "You know, you're not supposed to do that. If you're in this much pain, you've got to keep rested. Then you'll get out of here quicker and be back to all the trouble you're used to." The feeding of Constantine is done matter of factly. There is no pity there, nor an attempt to baby him.

"That's pretty stereotypical of you," she raises an eyebrow. "I've got my own troubles. Cranky British Men don't have the corner on that market, you know."

*

"Well, if you keep chasing cranky Brits around, you're going to get into trouble eventually," Constantine says with a raspy, dry sound. "What kind of trouble are you in? Must be something awful if you just laugh in the face of poltergeists attacking- even moreso if you can see them. You deal with monsters like that regular?" Constantine asks Kitty, looking up at the young woman spoon feeding him his dessert.

*

"I keep cranky Canadians around, mostly," Kitty smirks at Constantine. "I'm not sure if they're better or worse than Brits." As for what she's into, the woman shrugs her shoulders. "I'm not so much into it any more. Have you ever heard of the Hand?" she asks, not sure why she's telling him about the Japanese ninja gang. As if catching herself, she quickly pushes another spoonful of Jell-O Constantine's way. "Not on the regular. I think I could see the ghosts because I was phased. It's not like I see that sort of thing all the time."

*

"Bloody Canadians. We never would have given them the colony if they weren't so ripping polite about asking for the territory," Constantine remarks hoarsely. He puts a hand on Kitty's wrist, pausing the spoonful of Jell-O. "I know of the Hand. Shadow worshipping ninja clan from the Orient. What are you doing mixed up with that lot? I don't know that even I would want them sore at me," Constantine remarks.

*

Kitty's lips turn into a thin line as Constantine describes the Hand. Then, her eyes look down at the hand on her wrist. "They killed my father," she tells him. It's not the whole story. There are very few stories that can be told in one sentence. However, it's enough to explain to the Brit her own backstory. To prove herself to him. She's not even sure why she wishes to do so. But, there it is. The bare bones of her genesis to fighting demons and crime laid bare to a man she's met all of three times.

"So, it's not so much them sore at me, though I'm sure there's some of that mixed in." But, it's she who is sore at them.

*

Constantine looks at Kitty, with an expression almost akin to askance. Then he sees the hard set to her lips and the dark look in her eyes, and Constantine looks aside, before patting her wrist. "I'm sorry, luv. I know a thing or two about that," the magician admits.

He squeezes Kitty's wrist reassuringly, a gesture at odds with the sunken, harrowed expression on his face. "That's a hard road to hoe when you're coming up. Doesn't get easier when you get older, believe me."

*

"It's fine," she tells Constantine in a tone that proves that it really isn't fine. Kitty sighs and shrugs her shoulders. "It was a few years ago. I wasn't a kid when it happened. And I'm not a kid now." Not that that means she's over it.

"So, you, you just started seeing monsters and decided that was it, that was your day job?" She asks, instead, in an attempt to change the subject. There's only so much she wishes to talk about when it comes to her father's involvement with the Hand and his subsequent death due to it.

*

Constantine's face turns into a blank slate and his hand drops from Kitty's wrist. He looks out the window, no expression visible on his features. "It was more than a few years ago. And it's fine," Constantine says, jaw clenching in anger despite the stoic look on his face. "It's not something I like to revisit." He would fold his arms across his chest, but the bruises on his upper chest clearly preclude him from adopting that posture. So he just turns his palms towards the sheets and looks away from Kitty instead of maintaining eye contact, though the shadows under his eyes deepen in response to a recollection of some internalized trauma.

*

"Ah." Kitty puts the Jell-O and the spoon down. Now they've really come to the crux of the matter. "I see. So, we've both lost people or had things happen to us." The young woman moves toward the seat again to watch Constantine. "Look, I can help you if you'd like the help. But, I won't have you looking at me with guilt eyes every time something dangerous happens. I'm not a fragile china doll or something. There are very few things that can hurt me. In many ways, I'm pretty sure I'm more indestructible than you are."

*

"I never pretended to be indestructible. I know my enemy better than most. Survival isn't having superpowers or mutant abilities or a flashy uniform. It's knowing where they're weak and where they are strong." His fingers twitch, fumbling for a cigarette and not finding one, his voice a dull monotone.

"I'm sure in your neighborhood you've beat down a few muggers. Maybe scared off an alien or a rampaging villain, even. But you're just… a kid," he says, wearily. "You'd just end up one more bloody corpse screaming at me in the night, and I'd have to go to your funeral, talk to your friends and family, and pretend it wasn't my fault you ended up in the ground."

*

"Yes, it's about survival," Kitty agrees tiredly from her chair. Then, however, she sighs and pushes herself upward. "Look, I don't have to hear from you that I'm young. I'm twenty three years old and I've fought demons and HYDRA and ton of other things. I don't have to prove myself to you." Despite the fact that her very retort means that she's attempting to prove something. "Go to my funeral or don't go to my funeral. I'll just be doing what I'm doing." She sighs, shaking her head. "I'm glad you have your coat back. I should get going."

*

"Whatever you say," Constantine exhales. He doesn't look at Kitty when she stands, nor when she turns away. He reaches painfully for his coat and finally digs out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, the flame crackling to life and searing the end of the cigarette into a cherry ember. He glances at the smoke detector overhead and makes a small gesture. There's a *pop* from the device as it shorts out. Should Kitty look back before she leaves, she'll see John smoking a cigarette with the expression of an addict feeding his demons, eyes closed in genuine pleasure, ignoring the IVs in his arm and the bruises on his body.

*

"You shouldn't smoke in a hospital," Kitty tells him with a shake of her head. It has nothing to do with demons. Maybe it has nothing to do with his health, either. "You'll blow up one of those big oxygen tanks." It's with an expression of mixed annoyance and compassion that she turns her look back to Constantine before she moves for the door. "I'll check in again. Make sure you're okay," she tells him. Then, she's out the door.

*

Constantine stares at his cigarette for a long moment after Kitty leaves, before finally looking at the door swinging shut behind her. He considers the door for a few long moments, then, almost hesitantly, pinches out the tip of his cigarette and tucks it into the silver cigarette folder he'd pulled it from. He reaches down to his elbow and pulls out the IVs jammed under the flesh and gets out of bed with a pained, awkward motion. Draping his coat over his bare shoulders, Constantine moves to the water closet door and bangs on it three times, the motion obviously painful. It creaks open, revealing an impossibly large Victorian-era parlor, complete with a merrily crackling fireplace. The magician limps through the door and closes it behind him. The light immediately dies out, leaving an empty, unoccupied hospital room behind.

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