4784/Bad Medicine

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Bad Medicine
Date of Scene: 18 January 2021
Location: Triskelion, Old Annex
Synopsis: Under the guise of sneaking off with Peggy after the welcome-back party, Constantine instead finds information related to his quest for a dark and mysterious series of relics. Peggy discovers just what kind of person Constantine really is.
Cast of Characters: Peggy Carter, John Constantine

Peggy Carter has posed:
As Peggy is moving to finish putting back the old black and white photo which she stands within, still laughing quietly to herself about the stripper, she is intercepted by a certain troublemaker. Peggy blinks, not pulling away from his touch. If anything, it does seem some nearness that the woman is accustomed to, though her expression is surprised to see him. She smirks to him, giving a slightly levelled look, but then he gets a faint nod and she starts leading into a back corner. She pauses only to hang the picture up before slipping off into a hall with the man.

"I don't suspect this is about missing me, but fine..." She mutters to him under her breath, as she leads the way back into the hallway that has most of the old offices and the renovated bathrooms. It's far more quiet here and, everyone else enjoying the show, currently rather abandoned. Her old office is even still down this hall. It's just a week to be hit with every bit of nostalgia possible.

John Constantine has posed:
"You've sure a way of making a bloke feel welcome," John responds with a wry tone. He looks vastly inoffended. "Birdy told me there was a little celebration at the Swordfish. Add some free drinks, cake, a few welcome sights... you're not the only person I know in SHIELD, you know," he points out.

Despite the 'No Smoking' signs, John continues to smoke, miraculously not setting off any smoke alarms in the building. "I figured you could use a little friendly company, aye? Or if you'd rather go back to the stripper with your mate May, I could shag ass out of here," he offers, and pauses his parallel route with Peggy as if prepared to turn towards one of the exits.

Peggy Carter has posed:
That smirk on her ever-red lips just deeps a little more. Peggy's faintly rosy from the desert, somewhere between a tan and a sunburn which brings heat to her nose and cheeks, and a faint smattering of freckles showing through on her shoulders and collarbones that normally aren't there at all. She's most certainly got that British blood that is not accustomed to time in the sun at all. She's also giving him the look that says she's not buying any line of what he's saying right now.

"Mm. I'm almost certain you didn't come because you missed my face, much less pulled me back here. May is enjoying herself and that's what matters, I don't have much interest in nameless nude men, much less holo-generated ones. Besides... why did you really want to get back here tonight, hmm? Might as well show me where you're going." She states flatly, completely certain in her determination that his visit isn't about her or the few enjoyable moments they've shared.

John Constantine has posed:
John tries to counter that probing look with a charmingly lopsided grin, but it seems Peggy's got him dead to rights. His smile fade and he looks away, thinking. A thumb brushes under his nose, scratching at some five o'clock stubble.

"Fine. I need into the SHIELD archives," he says. He looks to her. "Don't get your knickers in a twist luv, I'm pretty sure I need the old stuff. Around the same era as that crate we found in Jersey. I've a feeling SHIELD might have accidentally found some other leads on what I'm after, and it's not like this nametag's going to get me into classified areas. Even if the secrets are older than the Blitz," he points out.

Peggy Carter has posed:
A slight sigh escapes her lips. It's not exactly disappointment, but there is a trace of some edge at sadness that she was right about the matter. Of course someone wouldn't miss her for just being her. Her smirk just lengthens in response to his first statement. "Of course you do. I'm not exactly the type of girl people *miss*." The edge of bitterness at her voice is one that isn't directed quite at him, but there's a lot of too-close emotions in play right now she doesn't like. It, apparently, was that long a time in the desert.

The explanation he gives gets an even deeper sigh from her, shaking her head as she leads the way farther down the hall, towards her old office. "I am 98 percent certain you are barking up every wrong tree here. This place was cleaned out of proper archives ages ago. We'll double check, but the paper stuff is all in the Triskelion. Trust me, I've been living in it for months."

A tired laugh touches her lips as she pulls a long, pale gold chain out of her dress' collar. "I just pulled this old thing out. You're lucky." It's got two keys on it and two rings -- things that look like wedding rings. But one of the keys is to her old office here, something that had basically turned into a keepsake decades ago. Now she slips it into the lock and pushes the door open. "If there was anything worth while in here...it'd be behind a fresh lock."

John Constantine has posed:
"I'm not the kind of person who /misses/ people." John's voice carries an edge to it. "Too many of them turned around and tried to kill me, and I've buried the rest."

It doesn't take long to search the office. File cabinets, desk drawers, the like. John finds an old picture of Peggy and her husband in one of the drawers; it's replaced quickly before it triggers any old, weary memories in the maudlin SHIELD agent.

Before computers, there were index cards and the Dewey Decimal system. And every government agency had protocols for how to file and catalogue everything for reference later on. John uses a subtle bit of magic that skims through hundreds of sheafs of paper at a time and pulls one out of a cabinet seemingly at random.

"This is it," he declares, and shows it to Peggy. "One of your zero-eight things. This is the one I need." It's a mandala, visually unspectacular. But there's something unsettling about it. Like a picture's hiding in the picture, just behind the object and yet out of sight. "Can you find out where it's locked up?"

Peggy Carter has posed:
Looking across the only half cleaned out, heavily dust covered office, Peggy's exhales a slow breath. She's very carefully locking any other feelings behind her closed off features, no time or need to be in them now, but this many shots in it takes an act of will to do it. She simply folds her arms and waits while he gently ransacks a life paused and discarded of things that didn't seem important at the time. She probably always intended to come back and clean the place out, then never quite got around to it until she forgot entirely.

"...I can't believe they just... kept all this drivel here. I thought surely someone would have cleaned it out." She shakes her head slightly, leaning shoulders against the wall and forcing dark eyes to watch him instead of staring across her old home base. Whether she catches him with the photo or not isn't clear. She keeps her features schooled enough not to show.

When he finally happens upon the answer, she stands up a bit straighter and accepts the little index card. "An 0-8-4. I know where *I* locked it up, but not where they may have moved it. If it's still there. I can see if I can access the files, but chances are that will flag me in the system. What's it's purpose and how certain are you this is the thing?" Peggy asks him flatly, not willing to just roll over and give up highly dangerous artifacts to him because he smiled pretty.

John Constantine has posed:
"Certainty's not a good word," John says wryly. "It's divination magic. I don't know that it's explicitly what I'm looking for because it's just a photograph." He taps the picture with an index finger. "But finding this piece of paper is extremely important to my current goals. As my current goals are to find a bunch of relics connected to a major-league dark artifact, I'd give better-than-even odds that this 'mandala' is one of them."

"It's also possible it's completely unrelated to current events," he concedes. "Wouldn't be the first time that happened to me. If this thing's such a prominent part of my immediate destiny then it'd be a bad idea for you to leave it locked up somewhere. It wouldn't be the first time I pocketed a nuke and put it up where someone can't get to it."

Peggy Carter has posed:
Peggy stares at him hard, weighing with quiet exhaustion just how much she trusts him. While it's a mental game she dislikes playing, she sighs and rubs one hand down her face, trying to clear the booze from her brain. "Fine. We... probably shouldn't talk more about it here. But fine. I'll see what I can fine. Add it to your little...list, now that I'm back."

She carefully slips the index card into the hidden pocket on the side of her dress, about the one place she can put it in this outfit that it won't be seen and also won't get too folded or curved. Once it's put away for her to investigate later, her gaze lofts to him with arched brows. "Happy? Shall we go, now?"

John Constantine has posed:
John meets Peggy's stare. This time, he breaks away first, exhaling with a sudden weary slump of his shoulders. "Chrissakes, Peg, don't take it out on me," he begs. "I'm no spiritual counselor and it sounds like you had a shite time of it the last couple weeks. I only got the bare details from some intern in the coffee lounge. Time travel, ghosts from your past, sounds like your ex-husband was involved..."

Hands lift and spread, fall helpless to his side. "Best I can do was give you something else to focus on. Figured you didn't ring me for a quick shag and despite how easy I make it look, this situation I'm in is a bit time-sensitive. So if it helps to take the piss and tell me I'm a bastard, do it. Clock me one if it'll do the trick, fuck knows I've been punched more deservedly over less."

Peggy Carter has posed:
As he comments about the last couple of weeks, Peggy looks abruptly away so he doesn't catch the emotions in her eyes, or that faint bit of glassiness that is there still. Especially as he mentions her ex-husband. "Late...not ex. He died in '56." She states simply, almost robotically. The sort of forced objectivity that comes when letting the emotions be there would just be embarrassing and too much.

She drags in a slow, forcibly steadying breath as she pulls one hand down her face, like she could scrub the emotions and exhaustion away with touch alone. "I'm not...taking it out on you. I simply know you're not here to be... a comfort or a friend. You are here to use me for what advantage you can get in this hunt and that is what you need, so here we are. It will take me a few days to get this, if I even can. I'm still trying not to be arrested by my own people for this mess of yours."

John Constantine has posed:
John grimaces and looks away. Peggy's words cut deep. It looks as if he's about to rebut them but she presses on, and he simply swallows his words as if accepting Peggy's assessment of him as tacit truth.

"Yeah, well. I told you. I'm a bastard," John mutters. "Let me know when you can get it. If you can. I can stage a break-in or something if it comes to it. Don't let anyone check it out," he warns her. "There's a ... call it a conjunction coming. Certain circumstances are waking up these old relics. I can't tell you more than that without making you vulnerable to it. But it will make people more likely to obsess with it. Maybe steal it. Don't take it out of the case, and don't listen to any... weird... urges you get if you've got it handy."

Peggy Carter has posed:
A bittersweet, somewhat glassy smile is given his direction as he doesn't deny a single thing she said. Maybe there'd been an inch of hope in Peggy, somewhere, he'd bother to be a friend. But now she just stares at him across her darkened and dusty office and, after a heartbeat more, gives a little nod. "Fine. For what it's worth, I don't think you are a bastard for trying to protect the world. It's...what most of us are trying to do. In our own way."

With those last, slightly softer words, she turns back to her old desk and slips a few things back into place. She makes certain that drawer with the photo is well shut. She smooths down the index card holder so it all sits even again and places the celluloid cover back over top, the only thing that's kept it from completely destructive dampness over these years. "You... can leave first, if you wish. Less questions that way." She doesn't look up to him as she says that.

John Constantine has posed:
"I didn't say that's what makes me a bastard," John says. There's a little cutting retort to his voice when Peggy remarks it. "It's the one fucking thing I do that's got a bloody chance of redeeming me."

His jaw works back and forth, clenching back anger. "I told you up front that I'm bad medicine," he reminds her. He's just inside arm's reach and staring at the back of her head. "You want to know the truth? Attachments get people killed. They make us reckless and stupid, and short-sighted. You want someone to hold your hand and tell you the world's going to be OK, you've got the wrong bloke. You want someone for a friendly shag once in a while who can also pull a miracle out of his arse at the eleventh hour-- 'that' is who /I/ am."

Peggy Carter has posed:
Dark eyes dip to the floor, her head slightly down and hidden by those soft waves of her growing out, dark curling hair. Peggy stands there, forcing herself to breathe a moment then let genuine emotions get the better of her. "...damned May and her whiskey..." She mutters beneath her breath. It was probably a mix of that and simple exhaustion from jet lag, but it was harder to simply slam the door on feelings tonight and she hates it.

Peggy doesn't look back at him. She doesn't dare. Then he'll really think her maudlin and every other over emotional word a woman has been called in her life. So she remains standing too stiffly still, not even two feet from him, dressed like she was going to a USO dance. "I just saw direct evidence of the opposite. Attachments make people fight harder than they ever would have otherwise. They perform literal miracles at times. And yes...they get us killed and completely fucked as well. I don't need... nor do I *want* someone to hold my hand and say it will be okay. It probably won't be and, if it is, I'm the one who makes it that way. I don't need coddled. I... miss having someone in my life to whom I am more than a useful tool. It will... fade. It's simply been a long few weeks."

John Constantine has posed:
Awkward silence ensues. There's an internal struggle in John. On the one hand Peggy clearly, desperately needs some kind of affirmation. A basic human connection that goes beyond merely regarding her as an 'asset'.

On the other hand, as John said-- he's far from a counselor. What truth he could offer would be, in part, a lie, because there is that part of John Constantine that can flick a switch and turn people into weights on a scale. No matter how important they are to him in one moment to the next.

A flask comes out of his pocket. It's uncapped with one hand and John takes a few slugs from it. "Here." He taps Peggy's arm with the container. It smells like old, well-aged bourbon.

"I've got about one friend in the world, Peg," John remarks. He sits on her desk. "And that's as much due a life debt and the patience of a saint more than me being worth a flying fuck as a pal."

A beat. "Wish I could do better than that. You..." He looks down at fingers interlaced in his lap. "You /deserve/ better than that."

Peggy Carter has posed:
The offer of the flask does get a slight turn of her eyes, a momentary look that isn't fully glassy but there's still a bit too much moisture and exhaustion there for her gaze to be totally clear. Peggy stares hard at him, shoving those walls back into place inch by crumbling, cracked inch. She just shakes her head faintly to the bourbon.

"I don't need your pity friendship or booze, John. Or your explanations. I know what I am to you and when I feel like a warm body to toss around maybe I will call you again. Enjoy the fact you have one friend. Many of us don't really have that left."

She's then looking away again, knowing that the last bit was too much. She revealed just a bit more than she wanted him to see and now she really can't look at him, "Just leave, please. This place is about fifty years over due a clean. I know what you need from me. There is no reason for you to linger."

John Constantine has posed:
There is silence. The old desk creaks and there's a whisper of soft-soled shoes on the old tile. John departs without a second word, his exit punctuated only by the creak of the door and the sound of the latch closing behind him.

In the hallway John stops, lights a cigarette. He takes a few puffs to get it going and looks skywards. Stretching his neck? Asking for divine wisdom? His expression is inscrutable and the distraction only lasts a few moments. The magus scratches at his chest, pulls his shirt aside to look inside the collar. Red ink looks burned or tattooed into his kin, complex and inscrutable calligraphy.

"Bollocks," John says-- though the subject of his frustration is a little unclear, between the cursed typography or the lonely woman he's leaving behind in her memories.

Worlds to save. John rubs at the ink until it vanishes under the touch of his fingers and heads towards the building exit."

Peggy Carter has posed:
As the door shuts behind him, Peggy finally lets go of some of the tension strings holding up her body. She just sinks into her old desk chair which gives a rusty bit of a creak in response. Even that feels like a lifetime she's left behind her. "...Hell." She breathes out quietly, sinking back into the seat and folding her arms tight across her chest.

While she hated to let herself cry, now quite alone and well into her cups, those tears finally come. She keeps her arms wrapped up around her torso, like she could hold in all those horrid old feelings she doesn't want to escape, and lets the tears come silent and as long as they need.