Those Who Favor Fire

June 28, 2014:

Paul and Sara go to Gotham to follow up with Jason. Then then discuss the ramifications of what they were told.

Jason's little shop of horrors.


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Down the poorly lit Gotham streets, through Old Town and into the district of 'better days but not slums yet' shops, past the door with it's ironically cheerful little bell, serpentined past the furniture and displays of old clocks and antiques, beyond the counter with it's wall of old weaponry and the tapestry with it's shockingly detailed representation of Rodin's Gates Of Hell, lays the room with the table, the tea set, and the high backed chairs that Jason's few visitors all get to see. It's never very well lit, so one can never tell how large it is really, but it doesn't echo or /sound/ huge. The chairs are old, but comfy, and there seems to be just enough to fit the people that arrive here, regardless of number. There is a fireplace, empty and cold in the summer, and Jason is staring off into the shadows blankly when Paul and Sara arrive, a saucer held in one hand, a cup of tea in the other, halfway to his lips and now hanging there as if forgotten. He doesn't react when the cops enter.

Sara has recovered - somewhat - from the disaster that was the Hollows and the buzzards. At least she's not drinking herself to sleep anymore, or refusing to leave the office until she's solved something. She still has a few dark moods, but she's recovered enough that she insisted they go and check on Jason. Oddly enough, she had no doubt that he would have survived whatever happened. And so she and Paul arrive at the strange little shop, the bell jingling on the door. "So…" she says without preamble. "I, uh. I kind of figure the least I owe you is a massive apology."

Paul follows Sara in, looking around curiously as he's never been here before. He pauses before the Rodin to study it and comments "I thought he'd be more a Heironymous Bosch kind of guy." Creepier. And more bizarre. As Jason fails to react to the bell or their intrusion, he walks a little closer to get a better look. "We need some of that tea for the precinct."

Jason Blood was expecting a great many things… an apology was not one of them. Sara left him alone in a building with innocent people… and when she returned they were all burned alive and he sits here unscathed. No explanation, no evidence, no answers. He expected yelling, violence, acts of angry cops the world over. Batman broke his arm and his collarbone the first time something like this happened, and that was before he started asking questions. An apology … not so much. He speaks without looking away from the distance, "You needn't apologize to me." his voice is heavily weighted and he closes his eyes for a moment. His shoulders, which were slumped, square up a bit and he visibly steels himself. When his eyes open again he nods to the chairs opposite him, "Help yourself Detectives." he says, motioning at the steaming tea pot and accompanying china. There are even wee tee balls for the loose leaves in the tin container.

"So you actually feel bad about that?" Paul asks Jason, sounding as if he hadn't expected it. At the offer, he pouts a couple cups from the teapot and fixes Sara's similar to how she takes her coffee. "It wasn't your fault. It wasn't Sara's fault either. Whoever those kids used to be, they were already dead by then. Their bodies just didn't know it. And that's the fault of the one who did it and whoever he was working for. Not the ones who tried to fix things, whatever the end result. But we can afford another five minutes or so of wallowing in guilt before moving on to making sure it doesn't happen again."

Jason Blood's gaze turns to settle on Paul and while his eyes flash with anger, what he sees when he looks at Paul causes the rage to cool almost instantly, fade away. He then looks away back to the tea in his hand, "Yes." he answers simply. "I have been rationalizing the deaths I cause for over a thousand years Detective Manning," sure cause most people are 1000 years old right?, "For a time it was easy. That was not a good time for anyone. Let us merely say that my feeling guilt over the incineration of over two dozen people is a better outcome then the alternative." he takes a slow breath then moves on, "The magus who began this, he has been dealt with?" he asks curiously, there's a sort of hopeful fear that he hasn't yet. Fear for any other Hollows he may create, hope because Jason would sorely love to get his hands on the man.

"Do you try to be an ass, Paul, is that something they teach in basic training?" Sara arches a brow at her partner, pushing a hand through her hair as she leans back in the chair. "He went up in flames, too," she answers Jason, grimacing. "Despite my best efforts just to get the thing inside of him and leave him for questions and answers."

"It's a natural talent." Paul explains. "They wanted me to go to OCS to develop it further but everyone hates Lieutenants. Even other Lieutenants." When Sara explains, he shakes his head. "This black smoke came out of him and when Sara destroyed it, he and the others burst into flames."

Jason Blood nods his head at that, going back to staring off into nothing for a bit, "Then it is done." he says, eying Sara and continuing to avoid looking at Paul, "How will you explain all of this?" he asks curiously.

Sara Pezzini grimaces at Jason's question. "I'm going to go with gas leak," she admits. "Not very original, but given the state of the property afterward, I'm not sure anyone's going to be able to disprove it. Not much explanation required for the prison. There was a prison riot, it happens. More often here than in New York, but that's not going to draw much attention." She looks to the wizard, eyes narrowing slightly. "Do you want to talk about what happened there? Or are we better off just accepting it's over?"

"Gas leak." Paul repeats and makes air quotes. "Our unit is assigned the strange cases that often have no mundane explanation. The brass like it when we provide one and they don't dig too deep to determine whether it's true or not. After all, the press might get hold of it and then people might realize just how sheltered they are. This is good." he compliments Jason, raising the cup to indicate what he's referring to. "WHo says it's over? Whatever was inside the preacher is still out there and can find another. We need more information."

Jason Blood locks eyes with Sara, "You don't want to know." he says flatly, "But I don't imagine it will be a secret I can keep from you for much longer. Things are becoming darker as of late and I suspect our paths did not cross coincidentally." when Paul talks Jason busies himself making himself another cup of tea, an excuse not to glance at the man, "Black smoke you said? It could be many things, though my first instinct is to assume some form of demonic possession. A demon that could exist, even in so ethereal a form as smoke, on this plane would have to be powerful, and to know how to make a Hollow it would have to understand magic. Demons are not generally so studious." he drops in a bit of lemon juice into his Earl Gray, "The problem with magic is that it is, by definition, mostly illusion. Without being there to feel the magic in question I cannot be certain it wasn't merely a sorceror possessing the body of a random man and then escaping. There are dark spells that would allow such a thing. I don't suppose you could get me where this happened? There is a chance I could sense the residual energies left behind and be of greater help narrowing down the options."

"I destroyed what I pulled out of him," Sara shakes her head to Jason. "Or at least sent it back where it came from. The Witchblade isn't exactly gentle about these sort of things. And it took place in the prison cafeteria, so…No, it's really not a place I can just casually walk you into." She pokes the tea ball with one finger, leaning her chin onto her hand.

"Unless you'd like to be arrested." Paul suggests dryly but then continues. "I'd guess it has something to do with something called the Buzzards. Seeing as how that's about all they were talking about. Doesn't that narrow it down for you?"

Jason Blood quirks a brow, "Then it is over." he says simply, "Though the Witchblade cannot destroy demons, it can banish them back from wence they came." he looks into the tea, "And it is a long long walk from the depths of the Pit back to the surface where one might have a chance at a second escape." he sips his tea carefully, hissing as it burns his mouth, "Honestly? No. Buzzards are universal in countless religious philosophies. On this continent alone there are over a dozen interpretations from varied Native tribal beliefs structures, and that isn't even counting the more ancient South American civilizations." he shakes his head, then stops mid shake… "That said… they knew a spell known to /very/ few, and they possessed the power to cast it in my very presence. That… is very rare…" he seems thoughtful

Sara Pezzini eyes Jason for a few moments, then shakes her head. "Well. If there's anything specific I can tell you, I'll be glad to. But honestly, as far as this is concerned, I'm pulling out of it. Maybe there's something more. But I'm pretty sure the deeper I've gotten into this, the worse I've made it. I'll leave it to people who know what they're doing," she concludes with a gesture toward Jason.

Paul nods at what Jason says. he discovered as much when he tried looking into buzzards. But he's not a wizard. "Sara, you realize that if it wasn't for us, yes, those kids' bodies might still be alive but they're be joined by even more kids who murdered their parent. Don't forget what started all this in the first place. We solved the case and hopefully made sure it won't happen again."

Jason Blood seems lost in thought and he sets his tea cup down quickly and holds out a hand, "Aviche!" he says and from the darkness beyond their table comes a fluttering sound and a rather large book lands in his open waiting hand, the pages turning of their own accord, "I have had a thought." he says, his tone idle, "Let us hope I am wrong." he begins to pace as he reads, flipping pages with a motion of his hand that doesn't come near to touching the book itself. "Tell me Detectives, what do you know of Death?" he asks, "The entity, the spirit, the being, not the act. What do you think of it?" he sounds almost distracted.

"Uh…" Sara glances to Paul, arching a brow at Jason's question. "Well, I'm pretty sure I've been mostly dead at least twice? But I don't recall having a meeting with anyone in the interim, so maybe there's a line or something." The sad part is, she sounds entirely serious.

"He rides a pale horse." Paul answers dryly and a bit sarcastically. "Though I suppose in this day and age, he's upgraded to a Caddie." Nope, not a believer.

Jason Blood quirks a brow at Sara's words, "Interesting. Most people feel anger or hatred at the thought of Death as a 'person'." the words it in quotes without him making the air gesture. "The thing about Death is that she is a constant, a thing both necessary and inevitable. I have met her, more then once, and found her…" he pauses in his reading and a tiny flicker of a smile threatens to cross his lips, "Anyway. She is not evil, nor good, she's not even neutral, she just /is/. That is a hard concept for mortals to understand, your lives are so short you feel the need to assign a purpose and definition to everything and even your presidents find it hard to define the word 'is' these days." he does smirk at that. Oooo. Bill Clinton burn. He then stops and with a wave of his hand the tea set, not including the cups they're drinking from, vanishes so that Jason can set the heavy tome down atop the table, the page open, "There." he says, pointing to an /ancient/ painting or sketch of sorts, an image of a person with buzzards pouring from their mouth in the form of black smokey vapors. The writing is entirely indecipherable… unless one happened to speak a language dead for longer then man knew the world was round.

"I know a literal descendant of Christ," Sara points out, dry. "The idea of Death as an entity is not the weirdest thing I've come across in the last few years. And it sort of makes sense," she shrugs. "Death happens." She leans forward to get a look at the picture, brows furrowing slightly. "So there are buzzards around death. That's not weird, right? I mean, they're carrion birds. They eat dead things. It's not strange that they'd be connected to death."

Paul leans forward to examine the drawing, careful to keep his tea cup away from the book. "Handy way to do the dishes." he states idly then glances at Sara before looking up at Jason. "There is something else. The thing… It wanted Sara to destroy it. It actually taunted her into doing so. It seemed to think that Sara killing it somehow violated the Balance. Least that's the impression I got. Somehow it won by what happened."

Jason Blood waves a dismissive hand at Sara's words, "No, I was merely using Death as a metaphor, an example. In Native tribal customs the buzzard is much like death in that it is not evil nor good, it merely is. A sort of living embodiment of cleansing one thing to make way for another," he turns a finger in the air, "a cycle. It is also a messenger." he looks to Sara, "And that is why it chose you." and then he forces himself to look at Paul, "And you are next." he steps back and begins to pace again, "It came to tell Sara something, I couldn't begin to imagine /what/ exactly, but it was not an avatar of the spirit, no avatar would have the power to summon that it summoned. It wished to make a point, a very solid one, and so it used the magus to create for itself a portal to this world. The Hollows. Then it came here. Once it spoke to you it no longer had use for the Hollows, the gates that were made to allow it access… so it did what it does. It cleansed itself from a place it should not be. It used me to cleanse away the Hollows, and you," he eyes Sara, "to cleanse away the remaining taint." his lips purse in thought, "I only heard the small bit from the children, the tiniest morsel. I do not know what the message was…" he levels his gaze on Sara meaningfully.

"It wanted me to kill the vessel," Sara clarifies Paul's words. "Or at least that was the sense I got. I mean, my opinions might be colored, but it wouldn't be the first time something tried to convince me to do something evil. Everyone wants the balance tipped to their side, after all. He just kept saying follow the buzzards, and talking about cleansing things in fire. Because they're out of balance, so burn it all down. I didn't even- I get enough of that shit inside my head, you know?"

Paul doesn't quite scoff. Quite. "Me? Why would it want to do that? Sara's the one with the bad boyfriend." He does not at what Sara relates. "That's pretty much it. The buzzards are coming. And it was exultant when Sara did her thing."

Jason Blood shakes his head, "Those were not the buzzards." he says simply before he turns the page in the book, and there is shows another image of great birds, roughly the size of pyramids (as the ziggurat on the illustration can attest to) swooping from the heavens and crushing the stone of palaces and temples in their taloned grips, "Those are the buzzards." he states clearly. "As I said, this was a message, a warning." he lets out a slow breath, "Something is coming, something big. I have gone centuries without this many powerful magical totems appearing in one place. The Nazi's never collected as many totems as are beginning to surface now, and they scoured the earth in search of them." he eyes Sara, "Something is coming, something bad, and if we do not stop it," he points at the new illustration, "/then/ the buzzards will come. They will not cleanse the evil, they will cleanse /everything/ and start anew." he makes a face, "In short? It is another apocalypse warning. The joy." his tone is flat as if this was the sort of thing he'd seen before and wasn't happy to see again. He flops back down in his chair in a slump, "Which is likely when you are going to die Detective Manning." he pauses, "In fire I might add." he keeps looking at his tea cup. "Which is less pleasant then it sounds I assure you."

"Oh, come on," Sara sighs, folding her arms on the table and dropping her head onto them. "Can we not just go for, like, a year without someone or something trying to wipe the slate?" She looks up when it continues to death threats on her partner, grimacing. "I'm still breaking him in, Blood. No killing him off yet."

"Yes, that's what is said. I forgot." Paul agrees. "It did talk about cleansing and starting over." Jason's warning produces a shrug. "I've seen it. I have no illusion it's pleasant. If it happens, I'll be certain to inhale deeply and make it quicker." Turning to Sara, he says "Remind me to increase my life insurance. My mother will need it." Nope, not a believer. Though he'll increase the policy anyway just in case.

Jason Blood shakes his head at the pair of them, "You don't understand." he says simply before turning to stare hard at Paul, "I see death when it is inevitable, it is part of my curse. I cannot turn it off, I cannot ignore it. It is everywhere. It is why I do not, ever, go to hospitals." he looks Paul up and down, "It starts there," he says, pointing at Paul's left hand, "and spreads. You don't die from smoke inhalation, if you did I would see something different. You burn. Alive." he states evenly, "And it happens soon." his face softens and he looks away from Paul, reaching up to run a hand over his face and sighing. He looks weary again, "I would really like it if you could bring me good news sometime." he mutters to no one in particular. He winces slightly at whatever response only he hears.

Sara is quiet, sitting up only to slump back in her chair and glare half-heartedly at Jason. "No one's burning my partner," she says firmly. "No one's shooting him. No one's possessing him and making him jump off a building. We're not doing that."

"So if I asked Sara to cut my hand off, that would change things?" Paul asks curiously. Why not? It's not as if it's real. And if it is, why not explore options.

Jason Blood eyes Sara, "You do not get a say in this." he says simply before he looks back at Paul, "No." he states simply, "Events would lead to you possessing a new hand before your death." he leans forward in his chair, "I have been down this road before and I assure you, in over seventeen hundred years not a single person has escaped their fate when I have seen it. Death is coming for you," he says to Paul, his tone soft, "you cannot change that, you cannot change how it will find your or when, the only thing you can effect is how you will meet it." he then offers a tiny smile of his own, "If I am any sort of judge of character, I imagine what comes next will not be so bad for you Detective Manning."

"So why would you tell us?" Sara protests, pushing out of her chair to pace the available space in the shop. "If there's nothing anyone can do about it, then what's the point of telling us?"

A new hand? If Paul actually believed Jason, he'd be tempted to ask Sara to do it just to see how it happens. "So I can increase my insurance policy." he tells his partner. "My mother will need the extra money if I'm not here to send her some every week. Assuming it's actually true, which I don't believe for a moment. No offense." he tells Jason. "I'm sure you believe it."

Jason Blood turns his head to eye Sara, "For two reasons," he states evenly, "the first is so you can prepare yourself. Life is short and yet continually you are shocked when your loved ones are taken from you, shocked, appalled, angry. As though somehow you shouldn't have been expecting their demise, their inevitable and very predictable demise. It is because you are often distracted by the small, often insignificant, details of your personal lives. I have given you the gift of certainty, of the knowledge of your finite time left. Were I you, I would use it well." he offers Paul a small smile of his own then, "You will." he says simply, "Because the second reason I tell you is this, Death is not the end, and more often then most care to contemplate, it is not even permanent. I am living proof of that." he offers with a little shrug of his own, "However slim the hope, it is hope for you to hold to and it is the only hope I can offer." he leans back in his chair and eyes the pair of them, though Sara more then Paul. Even Jason doesn't like staring at a burnt corpse if he can avoid it, "The spirit came to you two, not to me, not to Nabu or Strange or John or any of the others who have made keeping this realm safe their life's work. What is coming next involves you two, it is drawn to you, linked, and while I will help however I can, this is not my battle to win. Not this time. I imagine that very very soon things will begin happening, odd things," he takes a deep breath and pulls from a pocket a single red stone. It's smooth, oval, and roughly the size of an oblong golf ball. He holds it out for one of them to take, but not handing it to either one in particular, "hold thing in your hand and speak my name when you have need of me. The stone will summon me." he looks a bit abashed, "I do not like cell phones." he says as if in explanation.

"Right, because we aren't in special cases, and I don't draw weird like a corpse draws flies," Sara mutters, reaching out to take the stone and eying it for a few moments, as if deciding the best thing to do with it. After a moment, she holds it to the bracelet at her wrist, and with a few shifts that defy the eye, the Witchblade integrates it into its usual design. "Side note, Paul, I'm not cutting your hand off for the sake of experimentation."

"Of course not." Paul agrees. That would mean taking Jason's warning seriously. "Just keep your BF there handy in case you need to suddenly. Meanwhile, I'll avoid holding molotov cocktails and I always drink with my right."

Jason Blood pushes himself to his feet, "Drink however you feel like drinking Detective, were I you, I would enjoy the next few days." he then glances over to Sara and smirks a bit as the Witchblade incorporates the bloodstone into it's bracelet like setting, wondering how pleased the artifact is with it's new bunk mate, "And don't be afraid to call. If you'll excuse me, I am going to see if I cannot help further by scrying for coming dangers. It doesn't work often, but if it is close enough then perhaps…" he shrugs in a 'couldn't hurt' sort of motion.

"You're hoping I'll set you on fire myself, aren't you?" Sara smirks at Paul, shaking her head. "Talk about getting the partner I deserve." She steps back from the table again, letting out a heavy breath as she nods to Jason. "Thank you, Jason," she says quietly. "It's…Well. Thank you."

"An experience." It's definitely an experience. Paul finishes his tea and sets his cup down. Nodding to Jason, he indicates the door to Sara and then starts for it. "Well, if I'm going to enjoy myself for the next few days, I think we need to stop for a gyro. I can't enjoy the interstate on an empty stomach." More to himself than anyone else, he murmurs "Some say the Paul will end in fire, some say in ice. From what I've tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire."

Jason Blood watches the pair leave, his expression bland and void until they're gone. A flick of his hand sends the tea cups away and the book closes gently before floating off to it's place on some invisible shelf. "You know I know." he says to the darkness in the room, and his eyes turn to stare at the seven foot tall Demon lurking there in the shadows, a phantasm only he can see. "I know your plans and I will stop them." Etrigan's lips spread slowly to bare his maw of teeth at Jason and a low chuckle sounds in the man's head, «You, know what I allow you to know, you go where I allow you to go, you do or do not according to my whim, and puppet that you are Etrigan shall win.» the Demon rhymes. «You will hear his cries, look into his eyes, as with fire I will capture, the good innocent twit, dragged to the Pit, until comes the Rapture…» Jason stares at the Demon as he laughs loudly at his own joke, Jason's lips twisting into a grimace. "After all these years you still talk more then you should. Be gone and be silent plague, I've research to do." and with a wave of his hand he banishes the voice from his mind, locking the Demon once more away inside his cage. The laughter continues to echo softly until even it eventually fades away…

Paul's quiet for a bit as they leave Jason's shop but eventually asks "Do you believe him?"

Sara's been quiet as well, hands stuffed in her pocket. "That you're going to die?" she asks at his question, looking over and arching a brow. "Sort of. I mean, I don't believe in fate or destiny. I don't think it's unavoidable. And I don't think that just because he saw something means he understands what he saw. But I do believe he saw something," she admits. "I mean, the guy's a genuine wizard."

"I don't believe in fate." Paul declares. He's not looking at Sara, just walking toward the car. "But like you say, he's a genuine wizard. So if you sort of believe him, just what sort of do you believe?"

"I believe he saw something," Sara answers, hitting the locks on the car as they get closer. "And I believe he told us the truth about what he saw. I don't believe it necessarily means that you're going to die, or that even if you do, it's going to take. I mean, come on. Visions are lies. Isn't that sort of the standard truth? People aren't meant to see or know the future, they just fuck it up trying to understand it when they can't."

"So what would you be doing if he said it about you?" Paul asks, now turning to look over at his partner. "You're the one who found him. You must believe he knows his shit."

"Keeping my eyes open, I guess." Sara folds her arms over the roof of the car, leaning toward Paul. "Look, he's right about one thing. The more we try to mess with visions and the like, the more likely we are to bring them about. If he's wrong, then you've got nothing to worry about. If he's right, then there's nothing you can do about it. So when it comes down to it, what's the be gained by stressing over it?"

Paul just nods once as he buckles up. "Make a right at the light. There's a good Greek place a couple miles from here." After a moment, he adds "And you're not allowed to play with matches."

"Like I need matches," Sara snorts, starting down the street toward the Greek place. "Maybe it just means someone's going to find you super hot in the near future. Your very touch will set him on fire."

"That could be it." Paul allows. "But it's supposed to be the other way around." Looking out the window, he shakes his head. "Whatever. ON second thought, stop at the first Thai place you see. I want some drunken noodles."

"All right, fine, so he's hot. Either that or you're turning into the Human Torch," Sara suggests, driving past the Greek place and starting a grid search of the area for Thai food. "By the way, I told Steve he should talk to you about that parkour place," she adds. "Seems like it'd be a good fit for him, and God knows the man needs some friends."

"Now that's an idea. Maybe I am about to… No, wait. He definitely said die in there. So no super fire powers in my future." Paul glances over at Sara at the mention of Steve. "You did? Be glad to. You know, if I'm about to die, I should definitely ask him out while I can."

Sara's lips twitch, humor crossing her features. "Go for it," she suggests. "But wait until I'm there to see it, because I'd bet you serious money he turns at least three different colors."

"Sure. In fact, you can set it up since you suggested he talk to me. You don't know for sure that's straight, do you?" Paul asks, looking over at Sara. "I read up on him a bit and there's not really a lot of information about him personally. And you know back then, even if they were gay, they could never be out so…"

"Uh, he apologized for hitting on me at SHIELD because he thought Harper and I were an item," Sara chuckles, shaking her head. "But, you know, nothing says he can't bat for both teams, right?" She grins, looking across the car for a minute with an unrepentant shrug. "I took him to a ball game. Guy needs to get out more." Says the woman who rarely does anything but work.

"True enough. Doesn't hurt to ask." And if anyone is going to set Paul on fire, it's Steve Rogers. "So you and Harper are /not/ an item? Not even a benefits arrangement? Cause he is kind of hot and it wouldn't hurt you to have some casual sex to release all that stress you're under."

"I don't think Harper would really qualify as casual sex," Sara points out, turning another corner to search for a Thai place. "He's got a kid. And he's cute, and he plays the player card, but I don't think he's really got it in him. Besides, I don't really do casual sex either," she admits, lifting one shoulder in a shrug. "It's always complicated."

"Gay guys do have it easier." Paul allows. "I could probably find you someone looking for some no strings attached fun if you want. I've got some actor friends and believe it or not, not ever guy on Broadway is gay. But they are pretty much all too busy for a relationship except with someone else on Broadway with a similar schedule. Just say the word and I'll pass it along."

"Not really a no strings sort of girl, Paul," Sara shakes her head, smile crooked. "I mean, look, it's not like I expect to find mister perfect, and have fireworks, and all that. And let's be honest, I'd be bored as hell with the perfect guy anyhow. But I'm not interested in just getting off, either. I want someone…Who's at least a challenge, you know? Worth the effort."

"Suit yourself." Paul gives a small shrug. Different people like different forms of exercise. "Make a right up here. There's a patrolman over in the seventeenth. Does some MMA, runs marathons, definitely bats for your team. You could bounce quarters off his ass."

Sara makes the right before the reason is explained, then rolls her eyes. "I'm not hooking up with a random guy, Paul. Clearly, I'm not the only one who needs to get some action," she snorts softly. "There we go," she says, pointing down the street. "Thai place."

"I'm not recommending a hookup." Paul points out. "I'm saying you should ask him out. He doesn't do casual, I'm told. In fact, he almost never seems to date which is why a friend told me about him, in case he was closeted. Turned me down a while ago so I know he's straight. Seems like a nice guy too. I'm just trying to make sure there's someone to pick up the pieces after I"m gone." *grin*

"I told you, you're not burning to death on my watch," Sara snorts, shaking her head and pulling the car into a space. "Besides, I've got friends. A few. Some of them aren't even criminals. Someone might even stand next to me while they lower your coffin into the grave. Feel better now?"

"Not really." Paul sobers up at the question. "But it'll pass." One way or the other. "Right, let's go eat. And for a change, not in the car."

"But what if they make us use utensils?" Sara pretends to object, locking the door behind them as she heads for the restaurant. "We'll lose all our street cred."

"We'll get some donuts for dessert." Paul assures Sara. "Or better yet, there's a great bakery not far from here. We'll get a chocolate cheesecake. I'll work it off tomorrow." And the following week.

"Wow, Paul," Sara smirks as she steps inside, following a host toward the table. "Are you going to suggest we go catch that new romantic comedy at the theater on the way back in? Maybe we can stop and get manicures, too."

"Don't be stereotypical." Paul tsks. "Guys can like cheesecake too. And like romcoms. Which I don't. And somehow I don't picture you getting all teary over the Notebook."

"Only the end," Sara admits. "I mean, okay, whatever, big romantic gestures and the world keeping people apart, yeah, yeah, super sad, no need to be stupid about it, and they always are. But the whole Alzheimers thing is sort of a dick move on the part of the universe. That's the sad part."

"I didn't watch it. No need to subject myself to that level of angst. The real world is bad enough." Once seated, Paul orders them tea and noodles and some appetizers off the bat. "Which is why I'm not really upset about all this." he admits. "After all, gone is gone. I won't be caring afterward and there's not much sense in breaking down over it before hand, right?"

"I care," Sara points out. "I'll have to break in a new partner. If they even give me one. I'm pretty sure there's at least an unofficial three strikes and you're out policy from the department. Once is an accident, twice is coincidence, three times and they're pretty sure you're the one doing the deed."

"Well, just make sure you don't set me on fire and they shouldn't blame you." Paul points out. "And if no one else is there to see you, just get lost and pretend to be shocked. It's not going to be your fault."

"Wishful thinking," Sara chuckles, leaning back in her chair. "I'll get blamed either way. So it's just not going to happen." She lets out a slow breath, looking around the restaurant. "So, you thought about the whole SHIELD thing lately?" she asks after a moment.

"What specifically about it?" Paul asks, nibbling on some crunchy noodles.

"Whether or not you're interested," Sara clarifies, reaching over to steal some of the noodles. "I hate to say it, but I'm leaning toward it. Things are just…For a long time, things've been complicated, but it's been a complicated I can deal with. But honestly, I'm in over my head lately."

Sara pauses for a moment, considering that choice of descriptors. "I guess that's…not a bad way to put it," she agrees after a moment. "Learn some new things. Get better at what I do."

"Live honestly." Paul adds. "That beats it all. The others are just perks. Go ahead and fill out the forms. They'd be stupid not to take you."

"Yeah, well. What about you?" Sara tips her chin toward her partner. "I mean, don't go thinking I'm getting clingy or anything, but you're my partner." She steals another crunchy noodle, popping it into her mouth. "And I think it'd be a pretty decent fit for you, too."

"Fire, remember?" Paul points out with a shrug. "Let's see what happens first and then if I manage to live, I can decide then. I'd hate to do all that paperwork and then end up dying anyway. Talk about a waste of time. So many places to see, people to do."

"Well, people do seem like more fun than paperwork. Theoretically speaking, at least. Think of all the new people you could be meeting at SHIELD, though," Sara points out helpfully, reaching for her water to take a drink. "And let me tell you, I did not see a lot of soft bodies there." She winks. "Just because I don't fall into bed with just anybody doesn't mean I'm not looking."

"He said it'd be soon." Paul reminds Sara. "I'll probably be dead before they even make a decision. You're right about them though. There's this one agent named Barton. Hard to say for certain since he wasn't in spandex like Harper likes to be but going by his arms and the way he moves, you can tell he's ripped. And then there's Cap, of course."

"I'm just saying, I think there are fewer donuts eaten at SHIELD than in the precinct," Sara agrees with a grin. "Anyhow, I thought we decided we were going to live like normal, not dwell on this whole fire thing."

Paul gazes at Sara for a long moment then reache sup to run his fingers through his hair. "Ok, fine. I'll fill out the damned paperwork. But I'm telling you, if I end up living through this, I'm never going to let your pet wizard live it down."

"First of all, he is totally not my pet wizard," Sara points out. "And I wouldn't even think that around him without wondering if he was going to hex me or something. And second of all, I completely encourage you to not let him live it down when it turns out you're just falling into a vat of chemicals and coming out flaming." She pauses, then snickers. "Ba dum ching!"

"Oh, you don't want to see that. I'm horrible at flaming. I tried it once for a Halloween and it was a disaster. I'm just not believable at camp." Paul slides some plates out of the way to make room for their food as it's brought over. "Anyway, you found him. He's your CI or whatever. Yours, being the key word."

"I didn't so much find him as get in the middle of a fight some thugs were having with his eighty-something-year-old ex wife," Sara clarifies. "Remember that big throw down at the Sotheby's auction house? That's where I ran into him. Checked in on him in the hospital afterwards, and things sort of went from there."

Paul waves that off. "He's still yours." That being settled, he takes a few moment to eat before musing "I wonder if SHIELD has as much paperwork if you shoot someone?"

"Probably depends on who you shoot," Sara muses. "But I'm going to go out on a limb and say there's probably less paperwork in general. They don't seem to be the sorts who like to leave any kind of trail."

"Good. Not that I go out of my way to shoot people." Paul adds, giving Sara a look. Not like a certain terrorist that shall go nameless. "They're just dumb enough to come to me. /I/ don't have tentacles to immobilize people with."

"They're not tentacles," Sara insists, reaching for one of the dishes and pulling it closer to her to start poking at it with chopsticks. "They're…things. I dunno. It's not organic and there are no suckers, so they aren't tentacles."

"Tentacle like things." Paul amends with a grin. "So did you look into the process yet? Or we could just ask Steve when we see him next. You should set that up. I want a chance at him before I might or might not die."

Sara laughs, shaking her head. "Yeah, yeah. You want a chance. I at least want to see you try to take that chance, that much is true. I'll give him a call, we can meet at that parkour place and he can make both of us look ridiculous. But at least we'll have plenty to look at while he's doing it."

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