5660/Say No More

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Say No More
Date of Scene: 21 March 2021
Location: New York University
Synopsis: One coin of Hell covered, one dead body. In John Constantine's ledger, a victory!
Cast of Characters: Meggan Puceanu, John Constantine

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
NYU straddles the forthcoming arrival of spring break. While lucky students dream of hot beaches and bodies to match, others make do stuck in the city when it slogs onward to warmer weather. Cheap beer started it, it always done. Loud music floods out of a barely occupied classroom tower beside Kimmel Center. Exams and studying are far less fun than other pursuits.

These involve a variety of purloined objects. Beakers and test tubes from the science labs pile up next to questionable-quality liquor. One of the skeletons reclines Tom Selleck style on a dubious Urban Outfitters faux-fur rug. Students and a couple TAs drag along a banker's box on a cart. A hi-vis security vest shines on a young man's chest as he hoots and holds up what is undeniably an airhorn.

"Look what I got! You owe me $20, Kilpatrick!" he shouts upon entering the classroom.

The evidence cart ends up in the hands of three fratboys who promptly dump it over and stare at the selection of objects. A few forgettable notebooks get ignored along with a couple folders that spill out photographs and an incomplete red-lined essay. They hold up an iPad, a cracked StarkPhone, and a blood-stained knife. "Aw, shit, that's serious. Huang, aren't you doing some IT forensics shit? Come look at this. Get that baby charged."

"Why they keeping this junk? You told me they had a gold bracelet and a /helmet/ in there, like that shit Herc wears," another fratboy snippily whines. He slams back a drink in a red Solo cup and thrusts the near emptied thing at the guy in the hi-vis vest. "You're not giving confidence you're fit to join DKE."

"There was on the list. I saw it myself. I won't shame Delta Kappa Epsilon," Hi-Vis says to Solo Cup. "Gotta be something in here. Look, all this is like Greek or something." It's Latin, actually. They keep rifling through the box of gear, ignoring the steam cooling on the windowpanes as fog. Or the slow weathering that mournfully devours the pages, turning them brittle and yellow, ink fading.

John Constantine has posed:
Constantine stops near the entrance to the building and looks upwards. Dormitories are funny places, a little interstitial. Weak thresholds and little in the way of protection, but also envivified by so much youthful vitality and energy concentrated in one place. Predators both preternatural and supernatural rarely hunt where the prey is densely packed.

It's something else John is after, and he lights a cigarette while looking the building over. Smoke billows from his nose and he holds up a steel needle on a thread, dangling from a string between his fingers. The improvised dowsing rod sways this way and that before zeroing in on the building. It tilts the point upwards until it's stabbing at an upper floor. Blue eyes search the building until he spots the slow and unnatural frosting of the windows.

"Bollocks," John says, sourly. A twisted green vine is pulled from his jacket pocket and wrapped twice around his wrist, and the trailing end clutched in his hand. Thus armed, the magus moves to a security door and jimmies it open with a touch of a finger and a whispered focus of willpower. He slips in before anyone can spot him and starts up the stairs towards the labs.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Dormitories and classrooms around NYU run the gamut from barely liveable to upscale, four grand a month places split six ways for that true Big Apple experience. Bloody expensive is what that is. The classrooms likewise count as corner broom closets with six seats for unloved courses up to Silicon Valley-envy digital immersions.

Where DKE -- the questionable Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, long be their rap sheet and dubious their long legacy -- hangs, it's sort of in-between. A space for lectures fitting around thirty, projectors and whiteboards a nice feature. All the tables shoved together give space for their 'examinations,' which means rustling around the filthy belongings taken from security. Four fratboys in white lab jackets slam back liquor in beakers while they rustle through notes and papers with limited information. Dust and scraps litter the floor. Beaker holds up a photograph, squinting, and wolf-whistles.

Solo Cup wanders over and snatches it up. "The fuck? Who got capped at Steinhardt? Look at all the blood." Yep, that's how forensics go. "Hi-Vis, bring me that folder. You get into a murder investigation or something? Like, twenty years ago? This shit's faded."

"Who the hell's been murdered here? What do we look like, SUNY? Empire State?" scoffs Kilpatrick, senior and very, very drunk. He flops onto a chair. It cracks apart under him and throws him to the floor, much to the sloshed hysteria of his fellows.

Nothing like a needle to follow, leading to stairs ill-lit by night. The glow of the exit sign flickers weakly, red and lurid. The security door opens rather loudly as the hinges, lacking oil, moan in protest. Bits and pieces of sound filter to the magus; humming air compressors, the click-clack of someone typing, furtive giggles from a spot where someone's up to absolutely no good, they solemnly swear. The squeal, next, and a splashing sound of something pouring out unexpectedly.

John Constantine has posed:
Up the stairs, down the hall; John's not silent but he's something close to it, his shoes barely whispering against the tile. It doesn't take him long to find the classroom with the ne'er-do-wells. Even if they were trying to be quiet the pull of the dowsing needle would bring him that way-- though his own instincts are triggering to the entropic field just as surely.

Laughter, murmurs. Braying chuckles. John pauses near the door and fishes in his pocket for a clear crystal. The vine in his left hand is inspected and he frowns at the faint brown spots that indicate a slow dessication working through it. The vine is tightened and clutched tighter, and with the living ward on his wrist John slams the door open as loudly as he can.

"Oye! Campus Police!" he bellows, and shines a brilliant ray of sunshine from the crystal in his hand. "What're you on about here, eh?" he demands. "Let me see your hands!"

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Dowsing cheats the clutch of juniors and seniors of their privacy. Some effort to keep trouble at bay won't prove much of a barrier with a chair shoved under the door handle at the far exit. The main entry is blocked by the precious keg, rolled down from whatever chair supported it, currently leaking reasonably crap swill all over the linoleum floor. It seeps under the door into the hall.

"Man, I bring you a drink and you losers spill it all!" Kilpatrick is still getting himself up, tatters of his dignity as uneven as his footing. He slips and falls again. Jeans split, the ruthlessly fashionable weathering responsible for gouging open his knee, showing boxer briefs through worn tears beneath. One of the labcoat quartet guffaws, and gets a punch from his peer. They know who the boss is.

Hi-Vis jerks when Constantine shouts. He swiftly checks Beaker and Solo Cup, both caught up in their work. The photo gets shoved in a pocket, Beaker faster on the draw to hiss, "Get that shit cleaned up."

He shoves the frat-pledge, Hi-Vis, to the front. He gets to answer the campus cop -- they're his actual bosses, unless that vest is stolen. "We're having a study session, what's your hangup?" Hands are bare, in that case, though he straightens.

The burning light of the crystal comes through a bit weaker when John knocks his way in. It flashes on the silver strips on that yellow vest. Beer sloshes around his shoes, maybe his pants. The labcoat quartet listens about as well as 10-year-old boys or a clutch of puppies, messily pushing beakers away from papers and the charging iPad, the phone, and oops, there goes a box that spills open to reveal some keys, an aged bracelet, and a locket.

John Constantine has posed:
John jams a folded wallet with a badge in it in Hi-Vis' face. It's a real police badge, nicked off a cop in a bar, and a felony for most citizens to possess. The magician deftly flashes it just long enough for the kid to get a faceful of Approved Authority, and then makes it disappear before anyone looks too closely at the wholly non-matching photo on the ID.

"Hey!" John barks loudly with a stern note in his voice. "I told you, back off from the box and show me yer hands!" he repeats. He storms up to the four of them, bulling them away by sheer dint of ferocious personality. The light's tucked away before anyone looks too closely at it, either.

"You boys in here taking the piss?" he demands rhetorically. John glances at the vine around his wrist. It's gone all mottled now and small leaves are browning and crumbling away. "You're not supposed to have any of this, are you? Back against the wall over there, before I clap cuffs on you. You're in a world of hurt, boyos."

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
The police badge shoved in Hi-Vis' face gets a hard recoil, the student prepared to bat it aside. He shoves at John's wrist less in an effort to hurt than to open up space. "Jeez, what's your problem? I got it, I got it. Guys, move on back."

The beer sloshes around them in a puddle, a little remaining in the keg but most escaping through a busted seam. Thick and hoppy scents choke out the other liquors that mostly congregate around the quartet and their table. Kind of a foul mix, and one of them snort-laughs.

"He thinks we're pissing in here? Man, this is a place of learrrrrning," #3 Labcoat drawls at John. "No, we use the bathroom. Sigma Phi probably takes a leak off their balcony. Wrong turn?"

Kilpatrick finally gets to his feet. Tall kid, broad of shoulder, probably Very Important Family in a sort of way. He scowls. "No. I'm not feelingsh it..." And two steps forward, his loafer busts a seam, sole sliding on the beer, and down he goes to one knee. Ow. Career ender if he were athletic, which he's not. DKE is more of a party-house with a different rep on campus.

Solo Cup scowls something fierce. Beaker backs up for the window and the wall, plaster eroded, spiderweb cracks forming something slender. He leans against the sill. Solo shuffles over that way, not so far into his cups. "Man, you fucking suck."

John Constantine has posed:
The boys are momentarily cowed. It's enough for John, who focuses his attention on the pile of ill-gotten goods. A furrow creases his brow at the inventory. A bloodied knife, a cracked iPad; some personal effects of a relatively innocuous nature, save that they're obviously associated with the bloodied knife.

And that he recognizes them: the contents belonging to a murdered professor, Gottfried. A man caught up in a situation beyond his ken and consumed by it.

The vine withers more rapidly and turns from mottled brown to gray. The magus reaches into his coat and plucks out a snow-white silk kerchief. Gold and silver sigils invoking potent Coptic icons and prayers catch the light and glitter. John folds the locket into the center of the kerchief, wraps it over three times, and tucks it back into his jacket.

Not a long-term solution by any means, but it at least wraps a little lead around the proverbial radioactive waste.

"Oye. You, Vestie," John says, and steps towards him. He's a little shorter than the frat boy, but looks wholly undaunted by the height difference. The magus intrudes into his personal space, glaring up at him with a fierce presence wholly not-to-scale to his size. "This is criminal evidence, friend. You've just compromised an ongoing investigation. How the hell did you get your hands on it?"

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
The lab quartet unabashedly slurp from their solo cups or their beakers. One has a leaky test tube in his labcoat pocket, and has no bones about a tipple in front of the cops. Being drunk means never having to say you know why you irrationally did something.

John at least might sympathize with that state. The mildly wicked occasion calls for a quick summary. The knife itself is a modest thing, not a fancy make, and attached to some threadworn cloth it was probably taken with. Not much remains of cloth or the folder with an actual report on some stabbing on campus or another. Neither is the report about a theft of a professor's phone and the fake chats set out to the department around, but they have the weak veil of mischief to them.

"What's your friggin' problem," Kilpatrick belches, trying to keep his stomach from revolting. "Get outta here. You fucking weirdo, when I get my lawyer on the line." Pawing a phone is easy. Hoping it's not glitching out, another matter.

Hi-Vis in the vest stares back at John. "Uh, it was on a cart in the hall and I rolled it in?" Really. So cool. He rubs the back of his head. "It was down the way and--"

Glass cracks. So easy, how it works. Foggy light. Beaker goes tilting ass over tea kettle through the shattered, aged pane as it gives.

John Constantine has posed:
Out the window he goes. John stares, face impassive. The kid was a prick, probably a loser to boot. Someone who was going to get into trouble sooner or later.

Still. It's another body in his wake. The other frat boys rush to the window, crying out in shock and fear and clamouring after their friend.

He's not here to save a drunkard. John grabs the iPad, the knife and the other evidence, and bundles it into a box on his hip.

Kilpatrick turns around just in time to see the door to the room *click* shut in John's wake, leaving the men with their purloined articles and a potentially-deceased friend on the sidewalk below.