5155/Fixing What Ails Her

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Fixing What Ails Her
Date of Scene: 13 February 2021
Location: Batcave
Synopsis: Zatanna is called in to help with the demon wound festering in Stephanie. Jason Todd supplies some of his life energy to her spell, which pulls the infernal essence out of Batgirl.
Cast of Characters: Stephanie Brown, Jason Todd, Zatanna Zatara

Stephanie Brown has posed:
The message had come through the Justice League channels. Bruce Wayne was in need of magical help. Given his views on magic in general, one could probably deduce that the situation was something where other options had already been exhausted.

Upon hearing back from Zatanna, a pack of information in classical Batman style arrived to let her know what was in for. Pictures of the side of what appears to be a young woman. Four claw marks that slashed across her side towards her front. The skin around them reddish, while the claw marks themselves are starting to fester purplish. In addition, purple lines seem to be following the veins in five different directions, one noticeably longer than the rest heading up her body in the general direction of her heart.

A list of antibiotics and dosages that had been used on the spreading infection. And finally some video, surveillance film from a Gotham museum that showed Felix Faust moving through the halls with three artifacts, the ones he used to summon three particularly powerful demons and he remains at large after distracting the Justice League with a meteor aimed at Metropolis.

But more pertinent to the clawing, is some footage of small demonic imps, of a little shorter than waist-high, with text indicating that one of them was responsible for the clawing, which penetrated Batgirl's body armor.

A time is arranged to meet at the Batcave to see if Zatanna can help.

Jason Todd has posed:
Jason arrives at the appointed hour atop his bike. Bringing it to a halt by the others making sure his front tire bumps the rear one on Tim's bike just out of spite. He's dressed in his armour and helmet but he pulls the latter off after getting off his bike, setting it down on the back of the bike before heading up to the Bat Computer dias to await the others flopping into a chair. As he waits, he leans back and spins idly, while humming the tune to That Wellerman sea shanty that's been going around the internet as he does.

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
Magical help under the Justice League banner comes in one of two flavours: whiskey-soaked con man or stracciatella-over-chocolate magician. One goes down more easily with fewer lasting side-effects.

The cold weather makes it wise to show up in a sweater and pants, no fishnets. Zatanna's announced arrival time gets updated by two quick texts in succession. Really no point in driving around Gotham if she doesn't have to, and the urbarail stations work just fine. She carries a leather Birkin purse with her, the kind that invites theft from criminals who don't look closely enough at their mark. Just big enough to support a critical piece of kit, the hat, as it bumps against her side. Whatever other scans are going on won't find a great deal interesting. A few roller-ball perfumes in a tin case and a small vial in heavy blue glass speaking to age aren't exciting. Zatanna Zatara usually travels light, though. Everything she needs is just a swish and a backwards phrase away.

Alfred is every inch the respectable figure, earning that basking smile. To turn the tables, she asks after him; how things go, his health, the boundless demands on that brilliant organizational mind. The low timbre carries enough affection to remember older times, perhaps. "I'll do my best," an assurance made in the shadow of her father's promises to the world, in a similar capacity.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Alfred smiles at Zatanna. "We all know that you will. Thank you for coming," he tells her again as they take the elevator down from the mansion.

The Batcave is one of those places that it would take a lot of visits before it would lose that effect it has on a first glimpse. There are far more beautiful places, more mysterious ones and others more eerie. Yet it is difficult to think of any that have quite the same aura. Like one were getting the smallest glimpse into the psyche of one of the most complex men on the planet.

Alfred escorts Zatanna over to the Batcomputer as he sees Jason is there, though the medical bay is set up for Zatanna's use. Doctor Leslie Thompkins moves to join them as well. "Master Jason, Doctor Thompkins, you are familiar with Miss Zatara already I believe?" Alfred asks. The good doctor smiles and greets Zatanna, while Alfred steps to the Batcomputer and presses a few buttons, and an aerial view comes up of one of the roads leading to the mansion, with a car speeding down at it at precipitous rate. "And it appears Miss Stephanie is just arriving," he says, moments before the door that leads to the waterfall opens.

A small purple compact car zooms in, with purple neon lights beneath it, but dimmed as if the driver knows they can be obnoxious. The car brakes hard and slides into a parking space. The driver's door opens and immediately can be heard a voice singing with more energy than tonal control. "SWEET CAROLINE! BAH BAH BAH! GOOD TIMES NEVER FELT SO GOOD! (So good... so good... so good)."

Stephanie Brown closes the door, and if she has a smile on her face as she rounds the back of The Compact, those who know her can tell just be seeing her walk that she's dealing with some pain. She makes her way up to the others. "Hope I didn't keep you waiting. Really great of you to come," she says, the last to Zatanna. Jason is given a quick smile, maybe Stephanie surprised to see him there, but glad for it.

Jason Todd has posed:
Pushing off with a foot Jason spins his chair so it's facing Alfred and Zatanna as they arrive, he gives a jaunty wave still leaning back in the chair saying, "Yo," before the sounds of the Compact fill the cave and he frowns. "Great, now I'm going to have that stuck in my head instead," he complains to whoever will listen. When Steph emerges he gives her a wave too, then to Zatanna and Thompkins, "So what's the deal?"

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
When you work with magic, failing to give proper respect to awe means losing a critical part of the world. Of yourself. Zatanna may see a lot from on high and at ground level moving through Gotham, but she willingly subjects herself to giving the interesting corners their due. A subterranean structure cobwebbed in futuristic gadgetry or Gotham Baroque stylings is just the start of something that moves the soul. Or it gives her just cause for pause.

Looking over her shoulder for a moment, she smiles. "Sorry." Apologies spoken softly to Alfred when catching back up to him. "You're probably used to that by now." The shining screens and sleek vehicles beckon for slightly more appreciation at arm's reach. Later, when she can afford the time.

"Doctor Thompkins, a pleasure again. If only the circumstances were better." She offers her hand while those resonant notes of a song older than herself are still filtering up. Greetings are left to the wayside with a low chuckle. The purse fits comfortably at her shoulder, straps soft and floppy contours not hiding what defines her to the public eye. She'll bring out the hate out later.

Better to greet them in comfortable style. Jason and Stephanie receive the brunt of that rising smile as she waves easily. "Waiting? I'm not on tour yet. Time only matters for people in the seats. You got the ear-worm too? Power of 'bah, bah, bah.'" Somewhere a street mage is going to be cursed with it, just wait.

"The deal, that," she replies to Jason, "is unfortunately an infection that even the juicy antibiotics stowed away in a lab will do little to improve. I had a chance to do some research and narrow down possibilities. Thank you for the briefing, by the way. Whomever put that together is now on my extra-special dazzling gift list this year. You might have guessed the underlying infection isn't natural. Supernatural contagions rarely respond very well to other than supernatural methods. Given you didn't go looking for an exorcism, it ruled out the other convenient options."

Jason Todd has posed:
Jason slowly rises from the chair as Zatanna approaches, he nods, and then smirks, "Yeah, we figured it was something up your particular alley," he says before asking, "Though not sure what I'm doing here. I'm not anyone's idea of 'moral support'" he says with wry smile for the group. "Here to help, regardless though."

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Alfred's smile is as gentle as the man himself. "One never gets fully used to it," he shares with Zatanna as they walk forward together, the man waiting for her the moment he realized she had paused.

Doctor Thompkins shakes the magi's hand, saying, "I had hoped regular antibiotics would contain it. But the rate of spread seems to be escalating. So we thought it best to bring in someone with your area of expertise," she says.

Stephanie looks over to the doctor, telling her, "I appreciate you trying." The blond's eyes swings over to Zatanna and she asks in a voice as if Stephanie intends that Leslie not hear it while of course she knows that Leslie will, "Um, your magic doesn't use big gigantic needles that were handed down from a guy named Genghis, does it?"

Stephanie goes over to the cooling unit and pulls out some juice. "Anyone?" she asks. She gets Jason his favorite and starts to toss it over. Winces, switches hands and uses her off hand to toss it instead. She gets herself some grape juice and wanders back over and looks to Zatanna. "So, do we need to... draw a pentagram or something? Or, exam table?"

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
"Nope, no needles. Wands, lights, and a few illusions." It's meant to be reassuring, delivered with that scintillating stage smile not at all different from her usual good moods. "I could get into the metaphysics of it, but you haven't wronged me or assembled a stuffy meeting, so let's pass." Zatanna waves a hand in the lightest gesture at Jason. "The footage screams demon, no help was needed there. With a fast-moving infection from the point of contact, we need to neutralise the infernal corruption before addressing the physical injuries. With me so far?" A look exchanged between both proteges of Bruce's awaits confirmation she hasn't galloped off into a screed with little meaning. The purse comes down, plucked open.

As soon as the Birkin's soft leather sides part, she reaches in to pull out the hat. It hasn't been so much as dented from the journey over, though she brushes off the top plane with her hand. "You can't completely heal with that corruption in your system. The immune system sees none of the contagion so it has nothing to attack. You keep taking cheap shots from behind. What we need to do is make up the deficit by amping up your health."

Another pause, a quick check-in, assuring they continue to follow along. "Instead of a drug cocktail, you go into overdrive with some help from a willing donor. Give your body the weapons to fight back while I, well, basically teach your white blood cells how to stomp out a demon. Which frankly I love doing because they're bastards who attacked a -museum- and that's just an offense. The binding spell is a precaution after. First, I need to ask if you would consent to me even doing the exchange. I'd rather not whip up something from nothing. It's never free."

Jason Todd has posed:
Jason seems to be bored and barely listening, seems being the operative word, though when Zatanna gets to the part about the willing donor, he grimaces. "Let me guess," he says. "That's me, right?" though he falls quiet again when Steph is asks if she consents to the exchange, he gives her a slight nod to say that he was willing to go through with it, trying to make that choice an easier one for the woman.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Stephanie does seem to be following along with the explanation. She is, after all, quite invested in the outcome. At the appropriate point she nods and confirms, "Yes to infernal. The little sucker summon a gigantic ball of fire and was going to hit Miss Prince with it while she was holding up the collapsing roof. And if you can heal the claw marks too? I mean, I /was/ hoping I might shine a bit in bikini season this year. But on campus not at like, a biker rally where they appreciate scars."

More nods follow, Stephanie's brows knitting together slightly at the description. She hears willing donor and then it takes a second or two to connect that back to amping up her health. "Wait, isn't that, wouldn't that put the other person's health at risk?" she asks. When Jason speaks up, Stephanie looks over in surprise. But before she can speak, Alfred says, "Master Jason, I believe I should be the one. You have had some stresses on your system in the past," he says, choosing gentle wording.

Before Alfred can continue, Doctor Thompkins cuts in. "Alfred, you may be as durable as an ox, but I don't know that you should go through something like that either. I think of those of us here, I would probably be the better choice," the woman in her early forties says.

Stephanie blinks, looking from one to the other. "I don't know that... I mean, I don't want anyone else being hurt," she says slowly, concern on her face.

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
Zatanna mildly shakes her head, setting the top hat next to her purse. "Next you're going to ask for a return ticket to Cozumel at an all-inclusive resort. Let's do one thing at a time before I get chased out of here for being a bad influence." Her black hair sways over her shoulder as she reaches in for the perfume vial tin. It takes a few seconds to pluck out two of the slender vials capped in plastic, engraved by a neat little mark. Thumb and forefinger bracket one and she lightly shakes it up, slowly rotating them from side to side.

"The process could slow the donor down a bit, depending on how much I took," she replies to Stephanie. "That's where this comes in." Wearing handsome cologne or a gourmand eau de toilette probably isn't what she means. "But like blood types, a match makes it much easier. The closest two donors likely to match would be me or you." A nod to Jason. She watches him from the corner of her eye, askance and easily overlooked. But it's the marked measure of a professional.

"Best you, really. You're healthy as a horse and have more to spare than you know." Popping the lid free of the perfume releases a soft fragrance from it, rather like a warm winter morning in a cabin, the confluence of a comfortable bed, sunlight glancing through pine needles, the thin veneer of frost and coziness sinking into the bones. "Your residual energy can accelerate her healing process and top you back up. I haven't seen much like it."

Jason Todd has posed:
Jason seems to be unafraid of the process and even unaware of Zatanna's scrutiny he gives no sign of hesitation. Or well almost no sign, there's a bit of a frown before he speaks up. "The League brought me back to life with the Lazarus Pits, that's not going to be a problem is it? For either of us? When I came back it wasn't pleasant." Homicidal madness rarely is.

He takes a sniff of the perfume that wafts his way finding it pleasant though his face remains in a frown as he waits on an answer.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Stephanie's jaw hangs down just a bit, mouth open as there's a lot for her to process. It's like a total solar eclipse, or a blue moon. It happens from time to time, just not very often, and odds are you aren't around at the right time or place to see it when it does. Stephanie being speechless.

Her eyes look from Zatanna to Jason at the mention of his residual energy, one slender eyebrow going up just slightly before lines crease her forehead in curiosity. Though that's nothing compared to Jason's mention of coming back to life.

Blue eyes go to Alfred, and Stephanie receives a look, little more than the slightest shift in the posture of Alfred's head. Though it is confirmation enough.

Stephanie turns, looking to Jason, her expression softening a bit more than he usually sees from her. "You... you don't have to do this, Jason," she says slowly.

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
"She's right. You do not have to. The choice is entirely up to you." Zatanna's voice fills the long pause after Stephanie finds herself speechless for a time. She leans against the table supporting hat, purse, and perfume collection. Since everything wound into the relics holds a mystical cast, softly shaded by a purpose. "Both of you, as it is. I can tell you actual transfer takes very little time at all and a few fireworks in between."

She puts the vial down, moving onto the next one. An admixture like that takes seconds to really get moving, whatever chemical reaction inspired by the eldritch reagents summoning another kind of distilled memory or synesthetic impression.

"If we go ahead with this, you both need to sit down," she adds gently.

Jason Todd has posed:
Jason shrugs, "I'm here aren't I," he says. "Just want to make sure it's not going to undo what the Pit did or pass any effects on to Blondie," he says with a nod towards Steph. "As long that's not the case, I don't mind if this knocks me on my ass for a bit if it saves someone's life." He glances between Zee and Steph.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Stephanie stands quietly for a few moments longer. Her eyes go to Alfred and Leslie, but even if they tried to offer her answers, the question on the table really isn't one that another person can answer for her.

Her eyes go back to Jason, just looking at him for a few more moments. "Ok," she says quietly. And then adds a little nod as if she wasn't quite sure of the answer so needs that extra gesture to add confirmation to it. "If you don't think it'll hurt him," Stephanie says to Zatanna. The blue eyes look back to Jason, saying more of a thank you with her eyes than her words would be able to find.

She caps her grape juice and sets it aside and moves over to take one of the two seats that Leslie and Alfred and bringing over and placing nearby. Each of them have a bit of concern on their faces, looking between the two younger members of the team. But not voicing anything but support.

As Stephanie sits down, Alfred gives Jason a soft touch on the shoulder, and a look of approval before he steps back to give Zatanna a clear space in which to work.

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
"Not a chance of undoing it. You have enough energy I can skim the top off and work it into the spell." Zatanna holds out the second vial to Jason. "I need you to dab one drop of this on your brow, here between your eyes. Another here at the base of your throat, and in the middle of your palm." Waiting on his confirmation, she casually raises her fingertips to etch a cascade of tiny stars wreathed in a faded golden sparkle. "Don't pick the hand you prefer to fight, write or ride with. As soon as you have it daubed on, sit down."

The second vial comes with her, and so does the hat, dropped on her head at a jaunty angle that nonetheless leaves her face rather illuminated. "I don't hurt people," a soft aside to Stephanie. "Not when I can help it."

The second of the fragrances transports far away to a polished ballroom, decadent white walls and scintillating elegance carried on lavender water and the pinch of men's cologne with pipe tobacco soaring in languished connection. The sophisticated hum of pear is a mouthwatering viand, drenched in the spice and heat of the forbidden buried beneath the utterly proper. A scent that lingers, subtle, hinting and tracing. "You go in reverse. Three on your dominant hand. Three drops at your side around the injury. Three on your brow. Once you sit down, I'm going to set the seal ward. Don't cross the line unless you want to burn from the inside out, okay? I'm ready when you are."

Jason Todd has posed:
Jason listens to the instructions and nods, dabbing drops of what's in the second vial onto his brow, the base of his throat, and then the palm of his left hand. As he does the scent grips him taking his mind to the places it evokes and he smiles as he slowly sinks to sit on the cave floor crossing his legs as he does.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Stephanie Brown watches Jason applying the vial, biting her bottom lip for a moment before she smiles gently to him, and then looks back to Zatanna as the woman is giving her instructions. The blond coed reaches down and peels off her shirt, with Leslie moving to help get it off of the arm nearest to the wounds. She's wearing a workout top beneath, having expected to need to bare the injury.

The offered vial is taken, and Stephanie carefully applies three drops to her right hand. Her palm closes over them, fingers pressing to them. Then she brings the vial to her side, Leslie looking as if wanting to help. "Thanks, I think I got it," Stephanie says. "No need for the needle, promise," she says, and bringing a smile from Leslie, and a touch to the shoulder before she back away.

Three drops are placed around the wounds. Then finally she tilts her head back and applies three drops onto her brow up between her eyes.

She sets the vial back on the table, and moves to take her seat on the floor. "Right. Don't cross the streams," she repeats incorrectly, but with a nod to Dan Akroyd. She rests her hands in her lap as she takes her seat, looking over to Jason. "Thank you," she whispers just loud enough he'll hear.

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
"esolC dnuora meht."

With a soft incantation, Zatanna flicks her fingers. The forces so disliked by Batman come to her as naturally as breathing to her, spindled up in a soft glittering wave. Colour doesn't pierce the white sigils painted on the floor, rapidly filled in wherever the motes trickle by. A full ring shuts around Jason and Stephanie, pressure equalizing outside the unseen sphere and within.

"I'll make it quick." No reason to explain alignments of external forces and the inner aspects of magic. A phrase backwards is all it takes to distill the complementary forces found in the Lazarus Pit with the metaphor of the ballroom. A man's life is going to take the requisite two turns around properly with a young lady of comparable age, after all.

Zatanna shuts her eyes and whispers, but in those spaces and breaths, the world blooms to her call. "refsnarT sih ecrof-efil."

The submerged energies are pulled forth in a matrix linked by intersecting lines within the circle, smaller circles anchored within glowing latitudinal rays that spring from hand to hand, throat to side, third eye to third eye. Her own eyes glow fiercely violet, the stone at her throat echoing the same, a vestige of control over the conduit gushing with one man's life into another vessel. It's not for long, but long enough as she dares safely gauge.

Crossing the streams, it would seem, is positively out of the question.

Jason Todd has posed:
Jason startles as the ring springs up around him, but soon quiets from surprise to curiosity, though he keeps his hands firmly in his lap figuring best to keep to the rules on Amusement Mile, keep your hands in the car at all times.

As he does his mind flashes back to that ballroom, as the smells and images they evoke seem to grow stronger. He smiles, all in all, this is a much more pleasant experience than he anticipated.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Blue eyes widen and stare at the display of magic around her. Leslie Thompkins' eyes are doing something similar, and she reaches over and grabs Alfred's hand without even realizing it. Alfred is the calmest of the group, just radiating encouragement and confidence in what is transpiring, sending those feelings out to the others as best he can.

Stephanie's eyes go to Zatanna, up until the energy is drawing out of Jason, a visible stream. It radiates and glows, shining with a beautiful warmth that the Sun could envy. It leaves Stephanie speechless in that moment she sees it, before suddenly it connects with her.

A breath is caught. A connection made. Blue eyes stare across the floor. Feeling the other person more than seeing him. A fleeting few moments. A heartbeat perhaps, and when it fades Stephanie finds herself trying to remember it, to capture the feeling even as it seems to slip from her like water through her fingers.

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
A lifetime of preparation, rigorous education and endless repetition, plays into the dance of energy between two people. For this did Zatanna's father make her, in so many ways.

One anchoring point to three dilutes the draw of Jason's energy into Stephanie's body. In far more complex ways do those points serve as a search for equilibrium, the flowing essence of life shunted into the mind's eye, the aura, the physical wound. When the balance seems about right, Zatanna pinches off the exchange to the thinnest of trickles. One spin of the world on its ephemeral axis, a second, and the connection drops like that pause in the music presaging a grand waltz about to begin.

She draws a deep breath like the sweetest gulp of water in a desert. Thin strands fill her fingertips, and she breathes in the violet light along with the first bubbling 'smoke' of the infernal plague. Hence, the circle.

To speak the words is to invoke psychic discord in herself, and possibly leave an itching weight between the shoulder blades of a certain demon-blooded individual. But she exhales the spell, and wrenches back her hands to pull on the imps' poison at the same time. To fray and break and burn it into inert ephemeral globules, flung against the ward.

"nruB tuo eht 'snomed tniat!" Disregard the tension in her face, the grimace -- it's not a light thing to meddle with high or low powers.

Jason Todd has posed:
For all that he feared, there seems to be no flashback to the Pits, no sense of it's taint crossing those narrow strands to Stephanie or any sign of the life the Pit restored him ebbing away as the links break, save for a deep sense of tiredness like the end of an exhausting week, mentally, physically, spiritually. He's still him though and the darkness of the pit's subtle pull remains as strong as ever.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Where that brief sensation of being connected to Jason's lifeforce was a brightness, it is soon followed by something else. The infernal essence imparted by the demon's desire to do malice to Batgirl begins to succumb to Zatanna's magic. But not without making its last little fight. It digs in, metaphysically, trying to resist that call to exit Stephanie's body. The discomfort she had felt grows, her hands tightening where they rest in her lap. Knuckles turn white with the force her fingers grip themselves.

When finally the demonic substances are vanquished, the relief is sudden. Like that demon's claws had been pressing into her flesh and then are suddenly removed. Stephanie draws a deep, shivering breath. The purple in her skin that she had once quipped matched her costume, begins to fade away at a rate that has nothing to do with natural healing processes. The skin returning to a more healthy color around the claw marks which themselves no longer still fresh but instead have the look of having healed for some time, if not fully.

Zatanna Zatara has posed:
A crackle, a burn, and it all pulls free under the magician's pull. Not for nothing was her father the greatest of his generation. Zatanna has a way to go to claim that. But for sheer tenacity she wins points. Raw willpower to bend the impressions of Hell back on themselves, definitely. Those blue eyes narrow when the poisonous corrosion tries to slip away from her grip. When that doesn't work, it twists and bends in mortal flesh, scattering, forcibly corralled back into spirals and wobbling circles. She doesn't get laser-eyes or a magical sword or the endless supply of batarangs.

It's all down to will.

All down to standing there with her fingers snarled in the meat of the world, pulling on the order and the rules that govern existence. Tasting the shadows from beyond the first instants of creation, watered down but terrible, is a battle that doesn't give way easily.

Until she feels that strange snap, the purple viscous wave ripped out from Stephanie's side throwing her back two or three steps. It hits the barrier and bursts in harmless smoke, while the magician has to grab the table or Alfred or something between not to topple over. Being cool means never having to explain bruised knees. Right?

Jason Todd has posed:
Jason watches the final moments of the spell play out with rapt facination, not usually one for the mystic before his death his revival by the Pit has changed that tune to something like a healthy respect for it, tinged with just a little curiosity. As Zee moves to grab hold of something, Jason asks, "What happened? Is it done? Did we win?" As if that was just a matter of winning or losing.

Stephanie Brown has posed:
Stephanie lets out a deep breath. "I certainly feel better," she confirms, moving a hand near to her side but not quite touching it yet.

Leslie moves over to help Zatanna, making sure she doesn't see any signs of the magi needing assistance other than righting herself. "That was... not something the AMA will ever hear about," she says, her tone impressed even if she makes light at the expense of her governing medical body.

Stephanie doesn't move yet, not until Zatanna lets her know it's safe. She knows what happened to the Staypuff Marshmallow Man when they crossed the streams. She does look to Jason, a soft smile, and then back to Zatanna. "Thank you. And that got it all you think?" she asks, looking down at the wound. "I certainly feel like I could go a few rounds with Solomon Grundy now."