4741/Don't Say A Word

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Don't Say A Word
Date of Scene: 15 January 2021
Location: Boston, MA
Synopsis: The world continues to unravel at the hands of a King of Hell.
Cast of Characters: Meggan Puceanu, John Constantine

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Bloody wet out. The miserable weather hovers just above freezing, and that's no fun for anyone born in the UK. The sort of mournful weather that bestirs itself only to make everyone's life miserable, fighting against umbrellas and central heating. Better to just stay curled up on the couch under a warm blanket, downing a couple cups of coffee during the day. Not a chance of that happening.

Streets call to John Constantine, wily raggedy man. Maybe a need for a ciggie or a drink, he'll wisely seek the crooked streets of the Black Sea, that northwater port of Boston. Something will drive him out there. An open window just so. Someone demanding cash payment for a night, Meg's bartending notwithstanding. A creaking moan, a flare of incense spooling up into the air.

Be as that may, whatever gets him out, it doesn't matter to the world. The world's plans have the form of a young Latino man with a Knicks t-shirt hanging off his shoulders, a battered orange jacket flung over it. He is soaking wet, hair fallen lank and shining black around his shoulders. There's a fullness to his expression that betrays the gaunt, dark eyes dominating his face. A look of someone with a hell of a purpose.

John Constantine has posed:
John darts from cover to cover. Awnings and porch covers, the periodic arch that relieves the downpour of water. Someone with more sense might have an umbrella, with more style a hat. John bears neither, his sole sop to the weather to tighten his coat belt around his waist and turn up his collar against the rain.

The water beats down the smoke trailing from his cigarette. Pinched between thumb and forfinger, nestled in the loose curl of his palm to keep the ash from catching an errant droplet and ruining a perfectly good cigarette.

He steps into an alcove and checks a piece of paper in his palm. Two cross streets and an address to them. Not far now, hopefully a short job and a payout enough to cover a few nights rent at his cheap no-tell motel, a bottle of liquor to wash down the cheap accomodations. Maybe even some food, if he gets paid properly.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
"Bad things are comin', chico." The kid has that scrawny extension of someone not fully grown into their breadth, the elongated frame that's all elbows, knees, and chin until the day it isn't. That indiscriminate age is unkind to just about everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status. He blinks where the rain runs off his brow, melting across his cheeks, plinking into the half-open coat.

No chance a cigarette would stay lit out by own, not without shelter. He has none, standing in the middle of that narrow street surrounded by those crooked, tall buildings painted last around the last century. Not the 21st, either. So it's hard to avoid him, wander past sure, but not to dodge him considering the avenues are like four people across at the most. They weren't made for carts, not even.

He waves a hand anyway. "He says you're the one to talk to."

John Constantine has posed:
The hail brings John up short. It's close enough to the address, one might suppose, and Constantine typically has the sort of expression that conveys 'don't bother me' on his face. Social plumage, the way dart frogs wave off predators with their bright colors.

Except for Constantine it's a set jaw and a gimlet eye, both of which are directed at the youth.

Once convinced this isn't an ambush or a panhandler, Constantine steps into a narrow doorframe to keep the worst of it off his head and gives the kid an evaluating look, head to toe.

"It's Boston. Bad things are always coming," John observes in his cadenced Liverpool accent. "It's just a matter of staying ahead of them. You the one who called, or are you taking me to him?"

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Liverpool meets Dominican Spanish, the teenager full of boundless, cool patience. He isn't rushed about staring at Constantine, dragged the closer by slouching steps that would put them face to face sooner or later. He gets a shoulder in the way, if it matters, to make passing without a cost hard.

"Yeah, but this bad thing is your bad thing, your problem." He squints, thumbs deep in pants too tight to be anything but his sister's or fashionable. It's a day not to smile, to share only that grim acknowledgment. "Don't matter if it's me or him. Him's being a guide, that's all. Guide to someone to tell about the trinity fallin' down like nothing. Three women come into the hospital, and it's loco. Old and middle and young. We had a patient, she was all right, eating just fine and the next morning there ain't nothing in there, you get me? Breathing, staring. An' old lady, she doesn't wake up none either. All happy getting a meetin' from her grandson, telling me later he was gonna come back next week and tell her more about his dog. Gone, empty. Ain't no reason to worry, they're saying, old people die always. But I seen it wrong. I seen a ghost."

John Constantine has posed:
"It's a hospital," John points out. "Sick people go into it. Sometimes they come out dead, too," he observes." The magus draws on his cigarette heavily, blows smoke from his nostrils. It's tucked into the curl of his hand and he surveys the area around them again. Blustering, cold Boston rains. As bad as London.

"Right, fine, let's say you saw a ghost, which for the moment means fuckall," John advises the kid. "Lotta ghosts around Boston, and hospitals. A Boston hospital, it'd be weird if it /wasn't/ haunted." He uplifts his chin at the youth. "So why's this particular ghost got you so worried? What makes you think it wasn't one of the dearly departed on their way to the hereafter?"

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
The kid nods, shoving his hand deeper into his pocket and where a hint of warmth resides, the sort of place where the last kernels of a cozy interior temperature remain. His coat is for shite trying to protect him from the worst of the elements, but he doesn't seem to mind. "Eh, the nurse, she don't think it so important. Said just like you, old people die all the time. One more bed filled, si?" There's a bit of a grimace starting to tug the corners of his mouth down. Not given much thought, how heavily that mismatched blend of adolescence and adulthood conveys some weary knowledge outside his years. Of course the system grinds down the loose bodies when it's convenient to keep the cogs moving.

Not something he could hope to put to words. He stares up at John again. "Not so sick like they would die. That other one, she got a little cut." Dark eyes drop to the puddles by his shoes. "Little surgery, that don't kill no one. Old lady, she was hanging in real fine. But I see this person there, both times, when I cleaned. After guest hours, we don't let no one in, but she's standing there in the hall. By the room with the old lady. In the young chica after her family goes. I saw she don't touch no door handle, and I went in, and this happened."

He fishes out a small medallion on a cheap gold chain, the kind of knock-off plating that gives a veneer of trying but doesn't make the mark. The medallion though, it's another thing. Held out, the oval disk is incised by rays and some small figure being eaten away by blackened, chipped corrosion, obliterating a face. Barely does the darkened shadow indicate a round shape under her hand, being held up. "That was clean and fine dis morning. My abuela gave it to me, said it keeps me safe. I wore it, and this woman be seeing it, screamed something. I ran, came to in the stairwell. Called up my padre, he don't answer. So I ask around, someone tell me your name, and to keep some holy water around. You be pissing off Jesuits, eh?"

John Constantine has posed:
"I piss off everyone," John mutters, not really paying attention. His interest is in the medallion, scorched and damaged. Cheaply made in China or something, probably sold to his grandmother under the lie of silver gilding. Probably chrome, not something more valuable. "Equal opportunity offender."

The medallion's examined more closely. Catholic saints march through his mind, indexed by category. There are a lot of them; one for every day of the year and for every maladay and offense of the human condition.

"San Catherine," John says in Spanish. "Couldn't have been someone obscure, of course. Patron bloody saint of girls, craftsmen, and ten Baltic nations."

Still, it's pocketed. Every scrap of evidence helps. "I'll take the case. Take me to the hospital," John bids the kid. "I need to see where you saw the spirit, and also the rooms where the women died."

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
The metal burns. Stings like a thin vneeer of acid lies on it except the stench of that isn't found at all in the mundane world. Rather like having urushiol painted in a corresponding oval on his fingers, sinking into his skin with a taint that bleeds hatred. Pure, unmitigated loathing.

The slightest tinge of ashes and wet yew and brimstone lace together over the iron-black hate. The smut flakes off and tumbles to the ground, an offense against creation in a place not especially noteworthy for its high-brow gentrification. But it stinks, a twist of death and demonic intersecting with malignancy teetering from a spiritual rot that's hardly young. The medallion all but wears away under it, that solid, heavy impression of silver corroded to debased impression. "Not so far. Mass General," says the kid with a grin that shows his teeth but not fully in his eyes, cinder-black and full of weariness.

As it happens, the distance from the North End where John's roaming and hunting for work or drink is pretty well twenty minutes' slog from the hospital. Add another five for the rain and getting around the JFK Federal Building, but that's the secret of Boston. Unlike London or New York, it just isn't that big. At least not the core.core.

Leaving behind the former red-light district means an awful long hike past parking lots and offices, nothing that pretty, but the point ain't that. Ambulances clot the ER entryway, the clustering sprawl lying out in all its grandeur on the west side of the peninsula in sight of the sea. It reeks of sterility and business, the acts of bringing lives in and ushering them out.

"They died yesterday an' overnight," points out his guide. By the time they get to the hospital he's got a nametag out on a lanyard, the peeling picture matching up. //Suarez// it reads in blocky letters, with a few codes stamped. A wave of his hand shows. "No go in ER, you get? Real tight security. You gonna need to stay out here and I get you a coat. Cleaners don't get no special treatment."

It's true. His entrance is by a dumpster where two laundry trucks are moored up, waiting to take the immense load of uniforms and bedding away.

John Constantine has posed:
It's not John's preferred method, but hey, a nametag and a convenient premise for approach beats sneaking in through someone's window. His shoulders rest against the brick and he starts counting the centimeters on his cigarette, breath by breath, until his guide returns.

The garment's handed over and John shrugs into it. It's worn over his overcoat. Someone might look askance at that, but then again, why would they look twice at him? The kid Suarez and the Brit are incognito. No one looks twice at the people who undertake those tasks deigned nonessential by others.

It's a trifle to get to the floors indicated. Once they're there, John stops on the landing and turns to the kid. "Gimme your hand." A beat passes, and he gives the skeptical look at hard glare. "Hand," he repeats. Once it's handed over, John digs a little key-ring from his pocket that jangles with brass icons. One's pressed against an inkpad and against the young man's third knuckle. John repeats the treatment for himself and makes the ward bangle disappear in a pocket. "Don't wash that off unless I say otherwise."

His cigarette's flicked out the cracked window and the magus starts into the ward, all senses attuned for alerts of something supernatural abounding. "Which room is closer?"

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Windows are plentiful if he plans to ditch and find his own way through, carrying something stinking to every mystic in range. Nothing like having a metaphysical smoke grenade outgassing in his pocket. Suarez is incognito as one gets in a place like this, carrying a nametag for the right to be there and the problems any person of colour gets in an institution. It's no problem for him to wheel off with a cleaning cart, done like he would any other day of the week. Anyone really want an eyeful of cleaning fumes, anyway?

He rolls through the interminable labyrinth underscoring the building, like any castle or fortress or place. It takes a while to find where they want to be, starting with the intersection where a sign measures up. "The bodies are in the morgue," Suarez says once they've rolled to that crossroads. He doesn't exactly like having his hands marked up, but that's what ugly yellow rubber gloves are for - and not just sorcerers supreme.

Still, it itches. Itches more than it should. "Room closer? Recovery from surgery, that was over this way. Floor down, we go." If he doesn't want the morgue, John is led past nurses and busy physicians, the occasional patient shuffling around in a gown, past the intersections and stations. The ambulatory sorts recuperating from a new knee, an antibiotic course, a broken leg end up that way, along with those who need other minor in-patient, overnight procedures. Nothing to see here. It's rare for a room to need more than a few hours vacant, cleaned up and prepared for the next person even with investigations on a slab, in protocol, and on tape happening.

He nods, as they head along. "She was in 144A. No one in the next bed, eh?"

John Constantine has posed:
The doors aren't even locked. Why would they be? "Cough if anyone looks like they're headed in here," John suggests. Gloves and a bottle of something caustic are retrived from the cart. It's as good a disguise as any. He's in the room less than five minutes, comes out and shakes his head. "Nothing. Gonna assume there's a lot of nothing in the other room, too," he says. "Worth a shot anyway. Let's get to the morgue." No evidence of supernatural assassination means in the rooms. Such attacks leave a trail of evidence just like any bomb.

Down in the morgue they go, and John looks unbothered by the racks of cooling corpses waiting handling. Some for autopsies, some for organ harvesting. Some destined for funeral homes, just waiting for pickup.

The old woman's still there. It's to her he goes first, pulling back the sheet covering her with a disregard for the privacy of the deceased. It doesn't bother John. Might bother the kid a bit. There's only a pause to don some surgical gloves and John starts inspecting the corpse. Looking for little things, things a coroner would miss. Things a coroner wouldn't bother to look for. He looks over her treatment history, hanging from a clipboard by her feet. Infections, inflammation, lesions, burns-- comparing what the body says versus what the doctors had seen before she passed.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Those rooms are cold, sterile, and in the case of one patient, the first, already occupied by someone out for their physical therapy jaunt to make sure that a healthy body recovering keeps on ticking. They have the feel of the impersonal, swept clean, no more flowers or a friendly shawl or shirt flung over a seat in readiness to be off to lunch, or home. Cold, but not without effect. The émanations that flit through are parenthetical blocks of pain and fear, shot through by the monotony of a room not one's own, a bed not one's own, a routine not their own.

Suarez, for his part, cleans. A little, the rag out as he wipes down doors and handles. Going to the morgue is a definite other matter. Down there, he's hardly in a position to explain himself so a lifetime of loitering in doorways round the southern end of the Bronx means going to the same spot, squishing in the same overhang of a doorway. He tips his head down and slouches, looking plenty troubled.

Bodies on slabs, nothing new here. The old woman looks like she's about 75, pushing 80 tops. Kinky dark hair streaked liberally in grey is pulled back still into a bun, pieces falling out. Her clammy skin isn't the warm brown of life, distinguished in death by the marks for a near permanent IV in her arm, the skinny legs with their remnant definition of a woman with an active life. The host of issues accommodating old age are there, but nothing on its own that would fell someone. Being treated for low blood sugar, dehydration, a steady cycle of pain management that accompanies the kidney transplant slowly failing on her. A tiptoe towards end stage renal disease, maybe over a further horizon, but not in that instant. Her expression is taut even so. Body tight, a stiffness that comes from pain in speed, pain in fear. The nails are bent forwards, paper thin, cracked and not torn. Like someone gripped something suddenly, in a jolt, which doesn't match with the case of death being gently termed heart failure, death in sleep by any other means. No obvious trauma anywhere; surely the heart just gave out, systems go.

That dark, sludgy stench of the medallion is there, teasing away the details, blighting him to much else by proximity.

John Constantine has posed:
John grimaces and digs the medallion from his pocket. The blighted aura coming off of it is eye-watering. From a different pocket he folds the medallion in a hanky of white silk, embroidered with Coptic imagery in fine silver thread. It's folded around the medallion to seal it off and set on the slab next to the body.

"All right, let's see... time of death... Lunar cycle..." John squints skywards, trying to remember planetary alignments overhead as if he can see them superimposed against the building subfloors above him.

A magic marker, some string, a candle, matches. A pinch of incense and a little salt. The ritual's set up on the slab above her head, squeaking on the stainless steel. He adds the ingredients at the appropriate junctures and seals the magic off with a drop of blood from the edge of his thumbnail. It's empowered with his mental focus, his expression much like a man arming a bear trap.

John roots in his pocket for a little leather-bound book the size of his palm. Gold lettering has eroded away years previous, taking the title with it.

""Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursio infernalis adversarii, omnis legio, omnis congregatio et secta diabolica." He pauses midway through the exorcism, eyes flickering around with wary unease.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
The problem with an exorcism is that it requires a ghost. The ghost needs a few different ingredients for the classical recipe, typically some kind of anger or trauma.

Most certainly a soul. Definitely one of those, given the total lack of tree ghosts or rock ghosts or Packard ghosts rumbling around. Souls tend to go with the part and parcel of the gig, though not exclusively. And there is something entirely problematic, instantly telling when the lilting Latin settles in.

Something is missing. Something fundamental to being, in the shape of a woman or a hawk to the Egyptians, or one of a number of impressions, shapes, or sizes. Stuff woven of rainbows or angel's breaths or animated light, take it as they will.

Mrs. Carine Marsh is empty. The container of her body's there, wreathed in that noxious plume leaking off the ruined medallion. The shuddering lines of that foul impression left behind by something definitely *bad* cloud over the inert corpse, repulsed a fair bit by the exorcism attempt. The evil can be cleansed, in a roundabout way, vanquishing some of the tenterhooks it's buried into the body. But Carine, 77, African-American female, is about as mystically animated as an empty Coke bottle. And even the dead have residue, a ring of soul-stuff at the bottom, a trace amount in the head, the heart.

She's vacant. Totally.

John Constantine has posed:
There's a muttered curse from John at the complete lack of results. "Damnit." The word's uttered with an irritated resignation. A demon would be so much simpler to deal with. In and out, twenty minute job.

It takes him another ten minutes of careful spellwork to discover just how vacant this particular vessel is, and another twenty to confirm it for both the old woman and the younger fatality nearby. At one point someone almost enters the morgue; John flickers a spell at the door that reminds them of some other, more urgent business elsewhere, and they go off again before doing more than rattling at the doorknob.

There's little else to do. Just for good measure he takes two hairs from her head, good ones with roots, and clips a ragged bit of fingernail. The younger as well. Both are added to a small ziploc baggie and stowed in his pockets. Ritual's discharged into the air, marker's wiped up, and John covers the corpse once again before leaving the morgue.

"Got a bit bigger of a problem than I thought mate," John bids the kid. He beckons him to follow, not slowing his pace. "Don't have the tools I need on me to do the spellwork. Something's not just offing people. It's eating souls. I need to figure out what it is, and why it's haunting a bloody hospital."

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Two of three, the same effect. Stripped entirely of their souls, the package sucked out with a totality usually not associated with the upset dead. Nor with bargains; there is no sign to be found of the intercession of an entity with a capital E.

The younger woman bears the incision for a laparoscopy, whatever else they treated her for neatly done with hardly a stain of iodine to be found. Small stitches will never heal, the wound will never weep. She too is devoid of the signs of violence, a struggle found only in Catalina d'Acuino's face: the stain in black that no man or woman without the benefits of the third eye will ever see. It lies flat over her nose and her mouth, the imprint a stench as foul as the vaguely waxen impression of skin. Her lips are barbed shut with the usual pokey device beloved of funeral directors, embalmers, grieving family, and the occasional morgue assistant. But there's so little to give; no bruising that would come by such a covering.

Which is to say that there might well be no mark physically to be had because the hand belonged to no tired husband, no irate orderly. Whatever eats, eats untrammelled.

The cleaner is fidgeting hard by the time that John comes out, and he mutters an oath to Mary under his breath. "You take so long, I think they come out any moment. No right to be down here, they'll fire me, eh? You got it?" He hastens after the mage, grabbing his cart and wheeling it along, some poor metal toddler full of cleaning supplies dragged through work. "I tell you. I see a woman, then I saw /nothing/ til I come around in the stairwell. Lucky for me not to break my neck. I don't know about that nurse, they found her this morning and I ran for Padre Marco. Padre Marco wasn't there, they tell me try Brother Theodore, he no answer and the man who called me said don't call back, the police and the Church are both coming. If I were her, I stay home, but these nurses, they work even if they break."

He has mild admiration there, the kind rooted in reality.

John Constantine has posed:
"Okay, fine, the woman. Tell me about the woman." Constantine sets the pace and they're up in the maintenance area before too long. Constantine sheds the cleaner's coat and tosses it over the kid's service cart. It's been half an hour or more since John smoked, and his fingers are twitching in anticipation of the relief of nicotine. No law can stop John from smoking but there's a good chance a sharp-eyed nurse resistant to his minor glamours could make his life troublesome.

And there's perhaps an iota of civic spirit in the man, well aware of how tenuous each breath can be in a hospital for some people.

"I mean, details. Did it have arms and legs? Claws? Did it walk or fly? Could you see through it? Was it wearing clothes, what did the clothes look like?" John gestures at the kid. "Speak slow and be /certain/. Don't guess or speculate. Exactly what you remember it looking like, nothing more, nothing less. Smells, sounds, even if you just got a weird feeling when you puckered up."

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
"She was... you know? Hot?" His abuela is going to be readying that chancla at the first opportunity. Suarez breathes out, torn between appreciation and disgust. "You know, young, fancy hair, dark but she wasn't Latina. Dressed like money, I know she don't work here because no one walks around in those skirts. Like office lady skirts, but cut fancy. I dunno, chico, she look like she was a lawyer crossed with a chica in a music video, an expensive one, and I wasn't staring so much."

He raises his hands, defending himself from the accusation. "She saw me, she stopped smiling. I didn't say nothing. But she knew I was there, like no waiting, nothing. First time, didn't do nothing but the second time," he sucks his breath in. Lines on his face go taut, tight. "Maybe she said something. Had this lipstick like red, real red. She looked at me, down, and I was thinking oh she's looking for my badge, but I'm wearing my cleaning shit, if you don't guess what I am I got the bleach and the cart?"

He rubs the back of his head gingerly. "Don't see how this gonna help. I ran from her when it felt... heavy, like a bad trip. I don't know. Something in my gut said go, and you know, you hear that, you go. You just do it. She didn't no like my medal, though. I probably burnt myself." He pulls his shirt aside, at the collar. Sure enough, no more Knicks: there's an oval shaped welt, livid red, the same shape as the holy icon.

John Constantine has posed:
Constantine starts writing down some of this. There are a lot of small details, and as any detective well knows, the devil's in them. "She probably would have ripped your guts out if you hadn't," Constantine remarks. He glances up at the kid. "Did she have a purse?"

It's added to the list. "Makeup, skirts, nice clothes." He furrows his brow, considering what he knows so far. "...all right." The notebook's flipped shut and John hands the kid a business card. "Listen, you see her again, you just keep walking. Don't stare, don't talk to her, for fuck's sake don't /run/. If she thinks you're onto her, you're a dead man. If you've got some other gift from your grams, uh... a talisman, a pendant, something," he says. "Wear it. It has to be something that has meaning for you, you can't just buy spell protection off Amazon. This is a little heavier than some demon infestation."

His exhausted cigarette butt is flicked off the loading ramp, into a gutter. "You think you can remember all that?"

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
"Red," he repeats. "She wore mostly red. The skirt," Suarez draws a rough hourglass, since pencil skirt is not in a teenaged guy's vocabulary for the most part. "Dark hair, like white girl skin. You see a missing model running around in heels, you got her." Cause, right, it's easier to focus on that than anything else being put ahead of her. "Purse? No. She had some paper or something?"

He doesn't go further, taking the business card. Suarez shakes his head and clutches hold of it in the hand without the stamp glaring him in the face. "Chico, I'm stayin' round the church and making myself good. Mama will know I got in trouble and she no likes me working here. It be enough to quit. Don't be worried about that." Shoving his hands back in his pockets is a forlorn sort of move.

"I remember. Stay outta trouble." No grin for it. "You mean it. Like something ate them. What gonna eat Mama Andreyeva? Or me? Fuck, you don't think I was dessert?"

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
He cocks his head a sec, trying to grab at straws. Suarez has the benefit of being young, but details are hard. "And it smelled... like the smoke at church. Kinda heavy, real old spice and things. Incienso," he flips to Spanish, it's just easier. "Un incensario humeante. Can they get real burnt? Like that."

John Constantine has posed:
"'Them'? You mean, 'she'. She probably gets sunburn if she's out in the light too long," John says. "Listen, you get wise, keep your head down. Don't let them know you see 'em. If they do, fight. If you got a knife-- better still, a gun-- and you see someone trying to lay that sort of magic on you, aim for the heart or the head." Index and middle finger extend, mimic the recoil of a pistol in slow-motion. "Truth? I'm pretty sure you're dealing with a person, mate. Fucked as that sounds. I could be wrong," John concedes, "but a couple of bullets to the grape tends to make even zombies and scavs take a dirt nap."

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Suarez dabs his face with his sleeve and shakes his head. "The women," he clarifies. "The old abuela and the one in for surgery. Damn shame about the abuela, eh? Her grandson, he comes every week and shows her his music on his phone, they talk. Better guy than most. They come in and no one be visiting except maybe their daughter, who gotta put on a smile and pretend to be happy." It's a modicum of commentary before he returns to the present, to the pushing of that cart through a hospital where lives are patched up, torn down, brought in, ushered out.

"Gun? You loco, chico, hardcore. Mama would be booting me out, she wants none of that around here. I got a knife, but I ain't getting no piece." Dark hair sways when he shrugs. "You telling me a /person/ put these women into the ground? Damn."

John Constantine has posed:
"You a fucking knife fighter, gonna go a round or two with someone who can kill you with a look?" The words are aimed at that teenage ego, needling it. "And yeah. Person. People are the worst monsters in the world, trust me, mate." Constantine's eyes narrow with a deep drag on his cigarette. Ash and smoke pours from his lips, vanishes into the steady downpour of rain just outside his reach. "The makeup's always a giveaway. Inhumans, they don't think about it. They take on a form that doesn't need it, or they fuck it up somehow. And they don't know how to walk right in heels. Always looks weird, a little too uncanny valley."

"Specter would have vanished when you saw it, demon would have attacked you head on. Might be something more exotic, but-- hear hooves, think horses," John says. "Smoking hot woman in a hospital, lurking around people not quite dead, that's predator behaviour. My guess is you interrupted some ritual or spellwork, that's when she saw you. If she sees you again, I'd hit her first before she hits you with whatever whammy she's got queued up. Looks can literally kill in this case."

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
The kid flinches, but he gets that tic in his jaw and hardening expression of a survivor of hardship. No argument shot back, but he puts his hand back on his cart. "I'll keep it mind. Like I said, don't intend on being around here with no one else and staying 'round the church so it clears up better. You got your job and I gonna let Padre Marco do his. Soon as he gets back." His dark eyes close for a moment and he shakes his head, clearing out his thoughts. "Never gonna get that smell outta my head now. Like sitting too close to Padre when he's swinging his incensario."

He gives a bit of a shrug. "You need anything el..."

The rest is drowned out by a muted beep of the announcement system, echoing neatly from the speakers buried in the ceiling. "Code Blue. White 2. Code Blue," repeats the voice neatly, calmly, "White 2."

John Constantine has posed:
"/Shit/," John hisses, and pitches his cigarette into a storm drain. "Stay here, don't do anything stupid," he warns the kid. The magus yanks the ID card off the young man's shirtfront and races into the building, bypassing security that threatens to obstruct him. His shoes slap against the tile as he breaks into a run inside the broad hospital corridors. An orderlie pushing an empty bed is warned with a bark and John vaults smoothly over it with a hand mashing into the sheets.

It doesn't take him long to get to the entrance to the building where the code is being called. Perhaps it's nothing; perhaps it's just a coincidence that a coded call goes out in the short interval while John's at the hospital, summoning assistance to the front of the building.

But Constantine is not one who believes in coincidence.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
The polite repetition forms a before, a present, an after. Its message shines from the monitors displaying various streams of information in the bulk of Mass General. Small flashing blue lights at intersections notify the medical personnel of a well-oiled routine to follow, procedures put into action. Several nursing stations separate John from the White Building on the northeasterly flank of the main hospital, and the assigned reps speak softly and quickly into their headsets to further coordination. Code Blues happen often; Code Silvers or Reds would necessitate a more visible response. Patients might not even recognize the physicians moving promptly with their white coats flowing, the nurses in scrubs relaying a shift of bodies to compensate for the emergency in play.

Every day there are troubles, every day there are tiny personal conflagrations. It's not much different in a building devoted to oncology and surgery, the second-floor entry above the lobby easy to access. John cuts past the main coffee shop, past a bank of elevators that uniformly read 4/4/4. Two nurses hit the stairwell, zigzagging upward. He might have to haul himself up if he's not planning to wait on the shiny steel boxes to descend again, priority given to the override of a key and a badge. The beeping blue lights continue to flash, their paean for those rescuing angels descending.

John Constantine has posed:
Like any good malcontent, John's pockets jangle with all kinds of useful tools. Among them, universal keys, the kind that are ostensibly for uniformed personnel only. It's not exactly criminal to be caught with them, though using them is often a matter for police interest.

It'd disturb a lot of people to know you can get all kinds of specialized keys off of eBay. Sometimes even with free shipping.

The elevator's reccalled to his floor, drops down. John beckons two nurses to hurry up and rush into the elevator. There's a hard set to his jaw that presents an entirely different mien to the world, and when one looks back at him John's examining his notepad, and 'accidentally' flashes a police service badge in the process.

Again, things that are easier to obtain than one might wish.

He follows the nurses to the code location, staying back a respectful distance-- and maintaining a wary vigil over the area.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
eBay is the best source for ne'er-do-wells. Vampires and demons adore Poshmark for those savings and cultists can get designer robes for their wicked deeds. Whyever not? If the world is a marketplace, everything has a price, and Mammon or Lex Luthor benefit with a smile.

The elevator drops to the ground floor and at least two doctors are fully prepared to slip in. It doesn't take long to reach the second floor, where the hubbub of personnel converging on the nursing station and taking a corridor deeper into the belly of the building acts as Grandma's breadcrumbs for a halfway competent detective, much less the likes of a properly trained one.

Footnotes in the story of a person's life come in those flashes of interactions. The stunned orderly in the hallway, being propped up by a larger Black doctor while another loosens his collar. Machines squalling in their rhythmic pulsations emanate from a room, all shrill claxon demanding attention louder than any infant. A quartet forms, two nurses, one physician, another assistant still in green scrubs and pulling on latex gloves who waits by the door.

"Meredith, Sandra, let's go," insists the doctor, a Korean named Yeong with steel-struck black hair. In goes the AED machine, another addition in hopes of holding the reaper at bay, but the bridled smell of frankincense and a jot of some difficult to name spice hang in the air like an offending spark. Dim, but present.

John Constantine has posed:
There it is. Scents are so hard to describe. 'Like a flower'. 'Like incense'. It's all echoes of old memories, a faded copy of a copy. John's chin tips up and he sniffs the air. No canine, Constantine, but a bit of the old wolf in him all the same.

"Frankincense, and..." he scowls. There's a few fluid sample bottles conveniently nearby; John grabs one, uncaps it, and mutters a tiny little invocation to bring that scent down into the bottle. It's capped off and sealed, and pocketed. It'll come in handy later, certainly, mostly so he's not presently standing around chasing scents like a deranged bloodhound.

"Excuse me." John touches an orderly on the arm, flashes his badge, makes it disappear. "I'm looking for a woman who might have been in here. Very distinctive looking, very attractive. Makeup, high-end clothing, heels. Hair and makeup on point. You see anyone like that in the last twenty minutes?"

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Magical scents can be unique to the caster or so commonplace they're ubiquitous, like a red bullseye circle or the swirly scrawl of Coca-Cola, familiar just about damn near anywhere. The subtle trails of scorched wood and precious oils wriggle and coil, disappearing in one step and then emerging in a stronger current a foot away, lurid tentacles knotting on themselves in stolen moments.

The doctor and nurses ignore that for the immediate concerns of the patient, a middle aged woman sprawled into a bed under the typical white sheet covering her to the waist. Propped pillows hoist her up, and the television controller lies forgotten against the plastic wall of the bed. A screen continues on closed captioning, some inane reality TV program, Californian blondes scrambling over real estate deals and throwing parties, oblivious to the concerns of an IV stand shoved away or the oxygen monitor bleeping, the flat-lined heart monitor. A prosthetic foot pokes out from the blanket, and the nurse nudges it back in to make way for the charging pads brought by the assistant. She gently lifts the woman's outstretched arm back onto her chest, ignoring anything that drops to the floor.

The orderly outside is halfway into a look of shock, and the doctor aiding him to get his breath and sense of purpose hasn't much time for anything waving in front of his face. His face is blotched, pale, eyes showing white. "Just in there, I swear. Last round, was balling me out for not bringing her rice milk, instead of milk," he mumbles, one of the jarred and surprised. John takes a few seconds to penetrate, and he and the attending physician both turn their heads.

"Huh?" The orderly wets his lips. "You bloody fishing for a date here? The hell. It's Boston, God, like half the women probably make a quarter-mil and dress like it." He growls, teeth bared, lips peeling back as the confusion and shock take a sharp left turn into the speed lane of anger. His friend puts a hand on his arm, murmuring something reassuring, even as the first electric discharge in the patient's room zaps and there's more purposeful guidance from the doctor in there. Outside, the orderly just shakes his head. "Probably? Woman in dagger heels down the hall, headed for the elevator? Didn't pay much mind."

John Constantine has posed:
John's in motion before the guy finishes speaking, sprinting for the elevators. He doesn't have far to go. A hand dives into the inside of his coat, rooting around those infinitely deep pockets for just the right tool for this particular job.

He rounds the corner and brings a tightly-balled fist up in front of him. The elevator *dings* and the doors start to open. Two people board and the third pauses, turning to look at John with slow-reacting surprise on her face. Before she can focus her mental energy the magus flings a napkin into the air between them. Rather than miring itself in weak eddies of hospital air it flies like a catcher's mitt and slaps into her face as firmly as if his hand (and shoulder, and hip) were behind the blow, enveloping her head entirely and taking her off-balance.

John scrambles forward, already loading a second spell into his fingertips with a swiftly muttered incantation and a palmful of dream-dust ready to apply liberally to her forehead.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Beep. Beep. Beep.

Soft blue lights and the screens condemn John as much as the health care team struggling to recover a woman's life from the bone-pale grip of Death. Attempts to force her heart to beat and fill her lungs with oxygen by a plastic container, squeezed heavily in the puff-puff-whoosh rhythm that comes right along with efforts made with all earnestness, but little hope.

The orderly stumbles to the doorway of the patient's room, looking in. The doctor pulls on his arm, guiding him to sit down. Away. "She was fine. I swear, just watching that stupid show..."

"It's going to be fine, Ryan. Come on, let them work."

The electronic wails know better. It's not fine.

Down the hall, that faint trace of burnt spices and scorched smoke wavers in strength as John passes through the current. It sweeps up to the open elevator doors, threads passing like roots through the corrugated ceiling. The box descending from the fourth floor has a few more occupants than usual, impatient, not expecting the sudden fling of a napkin with such force. The two men are in navy-blue uniforms, the woman in dark violet-red scrubs. As the spell targets her, the woman is stunned, flung back. One of the men with her shouts, "What are you doing? Lora!" His hands reach out to steady the startled woman slammed back, clawing at the serviette over her face.

The other passenger slaps the alarm button in the elevator out of habit, hitting the fifth, fourth, and third floor buttons before he reaches it.

His target, such as she is, is haggard and pale-faced, fatigued from a shift, hardly the picture of perfection.

John Constantine has posed:
"Bugger," John swears. A little too fast on the trigger, it seems. The dream-dust is holstered swiftly and he stoops to 'help', retrieving the napkin he'd launched at her. It's a fairly innocuous looking enchantment but dastardly effective all the same, like getting slapped in the face by a giant's soaked beach towel.

"Here, let me help you up," John says. Oh look, there's already plenty of people helping. The rag's pocketed and he smoothly commandeers the elevator with his special key. The magus risks opening his Awareness to the world. The scent of frankincense and spices is not unpleasant by any means, but the aura of a malevolent witch grates against the senses like a faceful of rotten fish. C'est la vie. Sometimes a detective needs to be a bloodhound.

The elevator stops and he takes a whiff of the air. Definitely strongest here; this is where she must have disembarked. John steps into the hallway and starts down the hallways, trying to move with a purposeful and relaxed stride that is at odds with the hunter's instinct prompting him into pursuit of his quarry.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Lora in her scrubs scrapes at her face still, as though still suffocating under a hanky. In the chaos, John can easily dash out of the way, though he is at risk of getting a good kick in her fearful state. "W-wh-wh--" No proper response there follows through, her stammering matched to eyes watering up in pain, fear, the crackling of shock.

All around her lie cobwebs of sullen, burning ink. Blood festers on her sleeve in a ghoulish handprint, causing the threads to fray and pill on her wine-purple tunic. Some lingering decay leaves pockmarks, and her sluggish aura bears a paler shade than usual. The two men grumbling and seriously contemplating violence from the erratic, strobe-flashing auras around them, don't bear anywhere near the same degree of weakening, but it's still there. The smell is what hits, though, something spilling out the top of the elevator and presuming ascending the squared shaft higher.

Thin filaments hang there, thick with that poisoned scent of burnt frankincense, split amber, and expensive spices most often found in the company of priests of Eastern and Western rite churches. Spices soured and corrupted somehow, splintered by the faintest injections of iron, the copper-bright taste of blood, and a heavy admixture of ashes and fat. Suppurating fat, fresh and some gone rancid, like churning butter and the bloody offal of the slaughterhouse together, and laying it on the altarpiece alongside censors and prayers.

A livid cinnamon-red welt hangs in the air where he has not gone. Among the myriad spirits of fleeting hygiene and hungry little death, sickness and plague at war with the weavers of order, extremely few are present in that corridor. Small fish hiding in the reefs of the building's structure when a shark goes by. But then, isn't Constantine himself one of the sharp-toothed predators of the spiritual abyss?

The path upward is a raincloud spread out, the path back down the hall he ran like living blood, charged by spite, pride, and hate, a conviction deep enough to leave a slit wound wherever those high heels came down. Junkie tracks on reality's face, and the bloody violence done against a soul casting the patient's room in ghoulish shadows flickering with malevolence. A tilting weight to it is wrong, a magnetic horror with bitter familiarity.

It stinks of a book in a churchyard.

John Constantine has posed:

John takes a moment before continuing to quell his own aura, mute it so he's more difficult to discern coming. It's a tradeoff; gather mystical focus and energy, akin to a loaded gun, and go on the prowl with a proverbial noisemaker rattling around him, shaking the teeth of anyone with a lick of talent.

On the other hand, the advantage of hunting unwary prey is that the hunter often can ready a pounce while they're still unsuspecting. John opts for the latter and heads into the maze of hallways as fast as he dares. Fast enough to outpace anything but a running pace, but slow and wary enough to catch up to the other predator before she slips his grip once again.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
That's one way to put it. Screwed, hosed, borked, FUBARed, and everything in between.

Some days, it doesn't pay to get out of bed. Other days, it doesn't pay to fall into pillows, covers, and the warm arms of a lover knowing full well life is going to sock you in the teeth.

For a smoker, the options are running up the stairs or waiting for the elevator to dump out its passengers on the first floor and wait for it to go back up. Opting to run means taking a good three floors of stairs. Even at a burst of speed with long legs, John's going to feel it burning in his lungs, his thighs, his calves. Air's colder, once he hits the fifth floor, a stinging dull chill that permeates the body. Makes the chest wheeze, makes it hurt.

Anyone with a spit of talent knows what a cold room means. Invariably a sign of either elemental power pulled down, or dealing with the onion-skin layer of existence populated by spirits and ghosts. Better the haunt you know than the one you don't.

That stained line dissipates into a subtle, hazy mist to the Sight here. Harder to track, no equivalent of a blood stain being dragged through a floor occupied by normalcy. Looks like normalcy, minus the chill. A few nurses come and go. Orderlies check on patients. A cleaning lady chats up a patient sitting upright in bed. Here's where surgery gives hope: a place where faces bear signs of recovery, growth, hope. They're ignoring the code blue.

They might not realize the cold, pulling up blankets, rubbing bare arms. But somewhere, somewhere is one bloody hell of a source for ectomantic power. For something reaching beyond the veil or fully manifested in the mortal world.

John Constantine has posed:
John hesitates. There are a lot of vulnerable people on this floor. A lot of machinery that could go wrong. It's a bad place for a fight. It's a bad place for a lot of reasons. Cold, filled with people and their tenuous grasp on life in the throes of death. There's a reason surgical wards are rarely far from chapels or morgues.

The magus tugs down his tie, opens his shirt. A muttered incantation brings forth blood-red runes engraved on his chest, otherwise concealed from view. Power in those runes, beyond merely the knowledge engraved on pale skin. It seeps from him, as cancerous as the dead cells in his lungs.

"Dinner's on. Come and get it, you bitch," John growls.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Dinner's on. A clanging call that sends the minor spirits fleeing away. Even the good ones take cover, vanishing into the ether as fast as they can.

Power whirls around in that hall, chilly and clammy. Clean to a point of being sterile, the hospital generates little ambient power. Too many people come and go to leave an imprint.

Another matter, that shape rounding a corner. Give the kid credit, Suarez most definitely knows what the heck he describes. Toned calves look better in impressive heels, the sort envisioned by Louboutin and Choo, designers who get whole paycheques for a pair of flashy shoes. She wears that glimmer of red, but it's incomplete, a silk blouse wrapped by a bow at her throat, long narrow plunge down the front. Fair without being too fair, loose hair falling in styled waves. That red, red mouth, beautifully painted into a cupid bow, puckers as she waits by the fire exit. Bright where he burns brighter, calm where he stands furious.

A slow, coy smile forms. The woman tilts her head a little, shifting her weight, turning a bit. Interest but, again, restrained. For someone in a position of authority, the muted tells are important. "Such language."

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
The lady in question, for a visual, among loyal readers of such things: https://myliosrah.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/9999.jpg?w=1200

John Constantine has posed:
Constantine squares off with the woman when she presents herself. The magus relaxes the tension in his shoulders to something wary, but neutral. "Glad I've got your attention. Mind if I smoke?" A motion towards his pocket is aborted miday. With a look and raised brows he clearly indicates he's not going for a weapon. Slowly, very slowly, he extricates a silver cigarette case and his battered old lighter. A cigarette's extracted and placed between his lips. From the lighter a tongue of flame licks the paper and tobacco into a merry little cherry ember of heat.

"So what's the game, luv?" John inquires of the woman. "Stealing souls is the sort of thing the Powers won't let you get on with for long, you know. Do enough of it and you'll end up with everything under Creation banging down your door."

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
"The admins might have a thing or two to say about that," says the woman, not approaching any closer than she already has, but poised near the doorway. She drops her words to a lovely alto confession, rich with whiskey laughter. "Somehow I doubt that stops you." John is free to suck the tarry rush through a paper filter, though the lengthy chill in the hallway won't be letting up any time soon. Hopefully the cigarette offers warmth that the overactive air conditioning won't.

He might just see the paper short of the cherry greying, the tobacco leaves giving up the ghost far too fast before he's just about smoking ashes instead of the beloved nicotine hit. It's stale and dry, a thin taste instead of the rich mouthful decanted into his lungs like usual.

She appraises him with a discreet look, shaking her head after a moment. Abundant mahogany waves fall from her shoulder. "Sir, you shouldn't be talking of trouble at the doorstep when exposing yourself like a boy trying to show off at school. In here, to think." She brushes her hand over the smart square neck of her shirt, cut an inch higher than necessary to be provocative. "Spitting profanities to sound rough. Or is it to rouse a reaction?"

She wouldn't shrug. Not the type of broad who does. "Thank you for the warnings, however misguided and misdirected." A smile is perfectly polite. "When your time comes, may they serve you in good stead if you remember them."

John Constantine has posed:
"I'm not the one nicking souls from the hospital," John points out. "I'm smart enough not to muck about with the cardinal rules. Sooner or later, someone bigger than you will come along and step on your neck. Best case, they enslave you. More likely they'll crush you like a bug and take your essence for themselves."

Another deep drag of the cigarette. It smells like cloves, but redolent with other spices and ingredients that are hard to put a name to. Incense, perhaps? The smoke lingers around him rather than flying away in the wake of the slow-moving currents from the HVAC system.

"And I'm also not dumb enough to ring a dinner bell empty-handed." John lowers the cigarette from his lips and squints. His wrist rolls over without any telegraphing and flicks the cigarette at the woman.

"Impetu igni!" Constantine thunders, and grabs a fistful of nothing behind his ear. A hand outthrusts with fingers splayed in a curiously martial looking maneuver. The cigarette erupts near the woman in a spectacular if short-ranged explosion; Constantine's spell is so well timed that the thrust of energy catches the shockwave before it can travel back at him and reflects all that power at the woman, doubling the impact and the heat.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
The cigarette isn't lasting. Not long as it should, not at all. It hasn't the full strength in and of itself to happily poison him, the paper starting to fall apart into crumbling nothing before the spell even begins. Hope he hasn't got paper in his pockets, it's bound to be suffering a parallel fate. A gossamer wave of ashes awaits, though the explosion shows his spell works. Energy comes up in a rough wave that crackles outward. Those movements earn a swift reaction out of the brunette. Hand on the handle of the door tightens, and she speaks, drowned out by the shout.

Simple Newtonian physics apply after that, the Second Law making perfectly elegant reasoning for how the whirlwind smashes into the fire door, denting it. Into her, that body flung backwards as the force applied exceeds hers to stay at rest.

Simple violation entirely of Platonic and Aristotlean physics as she connects with the metal, drywall, industrial paint, passing right through them and out of sight. The damage is plain, but the outline of a ragdoll figure, less so.

The exit sign flashes and systems built in to suppress any fires or occasional chemical issues wake up in rough dismay, triggered by the cascade of failures happening so fast security won't quite understand when they review the reports in days and weeks to come.

From behind him, creation gives way, crumpling as a doorway of sorts opens to allow something very large into a finite space. A mystical impression blossoms like the Titan arum, sending up a stalk that gives off a choking, almost gagging sensation of spilled wine and burnt incense. If the magical signature John followed was unpleasantly dark, a broken trail through the hospital, then this is the equivalent of standing in a freeway at rush hour.

John Constantine has posed:
Constantine might not look it but he's no slouch in a fight. The woman in red is either off the floor or disintegrated. Hopefully the latter, but more importantly she's not the immediate threat. The -thing- behind him is. Without turning to look Constantine flings a hand behind him in an upward movement. "Murus!" he shouts, and goes for cover. The ash and smoke clinging fondly to his shoulders rushes into the space and solidifies into a slightly opaque barrier of pure force. Strong, but brittle; hit it hard enough in the right way, it'll shatter. But more importantly it buys him time, and John digs a hand in his pockets for a series of delicate crystal spheres the size of a large marble, each encased in an iron cage. The cages are twisted open, allowing the spheres to pour into his palm. Constantine leans around the corner just long enough to whip them at the malefic entity, unleashed elemental acid and flame at whatever is trying to worm into reality.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Given the absence of her sudden return, fair to presume the woman isn't returning any time soon.

Elemental acid and flame warp and twist when summoned up behind the equivalent of a plexiglass wall, peeled together until the elemental forces contest their very nature of being imprisoned. Though all this for a rather unremarkable man with dark hair swept back from the brow, dressed like a walk round Boston. He screams hipster, arms vined in tattoos, finely groomed beard immaculately full. There might not be a single problem about this except the floor is cracking, walls gaining faint spiderwebs at the presence contained heavily in a mortal-looking vessel. A charade, really. For acid and fire, for one of that ilk?

He raises a hand, waiting for John to look around the corner. Perhaps John will wish he hadn't.

Not every day a King of Hell decides to put in an appearance. Not every day one of them decides to say dryly, "You rang?"

John Constantine has posed:
Constantine squints around the corner then sags back. "Bollocks," he remarks, to no one in particular. He takes a few moments to contemplate his options and then gets to his feet and steps around the defilade.

"Wouldn't call it 'ranged'," John points out, cautiously. There's wary respect in his voice. "I was dealing with a git who was offing survivors and stealing their souls. Nasty business. Didn't realize she was working with someone so high up on the food chain. One of yours, then, yeah?" John gestures vaguely behind him where the woman had sailed out of his view. "Don't tell me you're just here out of your own curiousity."

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
"How does it go?" It's a demon, all right, though one who kindly has the forethought not to tramp down the hall after John and leave the surgical recovery rooms on the fourth floor collapsing onto the emergency room beneath them, or on those whose lives hang in the balance. He taps a finger against his wrist, where a watch rightly would be instead of the black inked tattoos that shift slightly emerald, almost ophidian in the sheen applied to them. Beautiful work, really. Though if John watches, they very well do move. Three-pointed leaves, rough and twisting, appear beneath a geometric border that's got more in common with arranged legions than tribal design. He might just spot something above the rolled up sleeves, the base of a tower.

/That/ tower, with all its terrible correspondences. Boil it all back down and there's simply just the one.

"No body, no crime? Making the rounds lately. A sense of mordant humour in that songstress, you know." He lifts his chin rather that nods. "My business is my own. Business nonetheless, though." A nurse flits out from one of the rooms, and briefly looks confounded. Her head turns, but stares right through the demon, right past the door. "Improper to talk terms in public. In private, done properly, that's another matter. I'll leave you my card."

John Constantine has posed:
"Aye, I'll meet you for parlay," Constantine agrees. A little of the wary tension slips from his shoulders. "Accorded Neutral Ground," he suggests. "Club Lux is in town. Not far from here. You can probably find your way there, but if you use mortal means, I'll jot down the address." John scribbles in his notebook, tears out the page and leaves it on an empty bed where Vinea can claim it. There's not much he *can* do against one of the Fallen in a straight fight, but at least Constantine's doing him the mild compliment of not making it any easier for the Hell Lord.

"I'll see you there tonight, orright? I'm going to want to know who the bint is, and why she's nicking souls, before all-out war breaks out over it."

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
A dark laugh rolls out, thrumming as grit falls from the ceiling. It lies in a slow swirl, redoubling the destructive force that destroys cigarettes and leaves laces in shoes bound to break apart. Paper records around him are reduced to withered, spent things that curl on themselves. Ink slipping away into nothingness echoes away. Even where he is, beyond the barrier, the cot creaks with an ominous sense of giving up the ghost of its youth.

A gesture and the marker is made. "Catch," he says. Something lands with a metallic clink. It's sent rolling down the hallway towards the magus, nudged around the corner. If it hits the barrier is another matter; this isn't a case of forcing objects through a mystic wall.

If it hits, there's a dark coin resting there, wobbling on itself. "Make it worth my while."

John Constantine has posed:
John stomps on the coin before it can sail past him and moves his foot aside to peek at the relief on it. It only takes him a few seconds to decipher the iconography of the seal. "Vinea," he says with a sour face. "I should have guessed. Surprised to see you topside. I thought you were still slumming it in Hell."

His chin uplifts fractionally. "You still working for Apollyon, then? What's his angle in all this?" The magus holds his ground, refusing to give the demon the satisfaction of backing down or looking cowed in the presence of even a Hell Lord.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Vines in the tattoos. The fallen tower. Sometimes they're subtle tells and sometimes they are announced with the swaggering braggadocio of a being present when stars were kindled and a man frolicked alone in a great garden. Vinea doesn't hesitate overly long once he hears the stamp of mortal sole to metal coin. It carries that faint scent of burnt incense, too, much less strong than the mystical aura staining the air.

"Who am I to resist good music and wine?" The in-joke, with the grape leaf tattoo, is a terrible thing. Considering his name, the parallel with vineyard and the grape, this is doubly bad. Perhaps it reflects the chuckel sent Constantine's way. "You don't write, you never call, and you don't invoke me for a chat. It will cost you a little more than that." He sounds rightly pleased with himself. "Ask your questions again after a proper drink or meal. Still employed with the firm, looking at interesting prospects. Gimme a ring when you're leaving."

On that stellar note, he opts to turn and leave. The nurse still stares blind, frozen mid-step. He walks right past her, giving the woman a pat on the shoulder to steady her from falling facefirst into a crumbling wall. As she would, when the gauntlet of reality catches up to her. Her stuttered 'Oh!' explodes from her lungs.

He heads for the stairs at the opposite side of the damaged hallway, away from a dented fire door and a threnody of sprinklers going off.