To justify despair

October 19, 2014: After a rough day, Keith doesn't exactly get cheered up by John Constantine.

Keith and Miguel's apartment



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Mood Music:
C'est Trop Tard

The door to the apartment opens up to reveal a rather disillusioned young man. Keith walks into the apartment and looks around- Gar wasn't back from training his stand-in, and Miguel was probably still at the iHop.

He just beelines straight for the futon and falls face-first on it, stifling what sounds like a roar of frustration.

Traipsing after Keith through the door (read in awe — this is a first), Robin looks between the ginger, the kitchen, and the window. In a way, he knows he needs to get back to the Clock Tower now that they're back in Gotham. He's supposed to be benched still. But spending time with a friend is almost the same as being benched, right?

So he treads to the kitchen and begins making coffee because that's pretty much all he knows to do right now. Aside from one last thing. He tugs the taser at his belt and wonders if asking to be tasered in event of hallucinations is too personal a request, even between friends.

Ironically, at that same moment, he decides Damian would do it in a heartbeat and makes a mental note never to give Damian a task so important.

The pantry door opens and Constantine steps out behind Robin, in the kitchen, a cigarette dangling from his lips. "Blimey, you Yanks and your coffee. Cuppa tea, mate? Two sugars," he says, before passing into the living room like he owns the place. He looks around with a squint, dragging again on his cigarette, and kicks the futon frame in case Keith hadn't noticed his arrival. "'allo mate. Mind telling me why I got a message to come hither and yon?" he asks, waving an old-fashioned folding wallet at Keith. "I'm a /bit/ busy with, you know, elder gods and the end of the world. What do you need?"

"AH!" Keith starts, falling off the futon at the kick. As he falls, he falls square within the salt circle that Gar traced around his sleeping area. An angry retort almost comes out of his lips, but that retort dies the moment he recognizes who the man is.

"John… John Constantine?" he asks with wide eyes. Suddenly, the day didn't seem as hopeless.

"Keith, could you do me a favour," Robin asks as he pours water into the reserve, "if I start acting… weird… could you use my taser on — " but the thought is interrupted by a voice behind him.

Instinct at an intruder is enough to prompt the bird to tug on the silver cylinder at his belt. With a prompt shake, all in one fluid movement, the bo staff reaches its full length. Robin swings sure and true with the staff towards the intruder's head, and aims to make a second pass except that Keith seems to recognize the fellow, causing Robin to take a step back and lower the weapon. "Uh — "

John swats irritably around his head at Robin's strike, as if he'd felt a fly land on him. "Oye! Piss off," he orders the Boy Wonder. "And get me that tea, sharply now," he says. Queens and Batman might speak with less self-possession.

He turns back to Keith and switches his cigarette to his fingers, squinting at the man. "Yes, the one and only. Bob's your uncle, pray and let him be delivered unto you, and all that," the blonde Brit quips. He kicks Keith's futon again. "Now, /what do you want/," he says, firmly wagging at finger at the man. "I'm a /bit/ busy and this had better be important."

Right. The Elder God Crisis and all. "Er, Robin, do be good and get Mr. Constantine some tea, please?" He was going to ask about what the hell Robin meant about using tazers… later. "Well… two things are happening right now. The Cait Sidhe is now free upon Gotham and the surrounding cities… and I'm dying. Those two are directly linked, and we think you could help us, Mr. Constantine." He slowly stands up. His human self does not resemble his Cheshire self that much, except for the build and the unruly red hair. He looks tired, too, and unusually pale. To a mage's trained eyes, he occasionally looked transluscent, as if he wavered on the edge of nonexistence.

"You're my only hope, sir. The Circle Oroboros unleashed the Cait Sidhe… and they have him collared."

Robin openly stares at Constantine when he reacts to the hit. The Boy Wonder's face scrunches into a scowl and his lips part wordlessly. But then, evidently, Keith wants to have an important conversation with this fellow, prompting Tim to search about the counter for a kettle. If there's one thing Barbara and Alfred have taught him, it's that tea cannot be microwaved and kettles have value.

To Tim they're not as efficient as a microwave, and who needs so many gadgets anyways?

He shrugs at Keith, a motion silently asking whether there even is any tea — he's so accustomed to drinking coffee pretty much everywhere that the question is definitely begged, but only silently as Tim gets a taste of what it is to be Alfred.

Constantine blanches and grabs Keith by the front of his shirt with a surprising amount of strength, bearing down on him with a narrow-eyed snarl. "Bloody… Jesus /wept/," he curses, examining the man with a supernatural gaze that penetrates blood and bone alike. Among someone even remotely keyed to the world of the supernatural, Constantine's gaze cuts as deep as a knife. "I could not imagine why I got dragged to this dank little apartment. How could you be so careless?" he demands, releasing Keith with a shove. He stalks across the room for a convenient chair and brings it towards the futon, dropping it heavily in front of the man and crossing one leg over another. His cigarette gone, he flicks his fingers and makes the butt vanish into the air, immediately reaching for a silvered cigarette folder and lighting up another one.

"Tell me what happened. Quick smart, if you like," John adds, clearly not making it a request, as he sits back with his hands resting on his crossed legs and his cigarette dangling from two fingers.

"Careless!" Keith exclaims as he is shoved back, wincing as he lands on the futon. "The hell! I had antediluvians, crazy-powerful druids chasing after me to split my soul open and free the Cait Sidhe, and not a single magician I sent word to answered my pleas for help. I found myself chased by these bastards until they finally cornered us. They stabbed me through the chest with some sort of glass word and… split my soul apart. I'm dying, because he's no longer a part of me, and Fenris says that the Cait is collared by the circle Oroboros and is now wreaking havok on their behalf."

Keith looks away, hiding the anger that is flowing down his cheeks. "… Don't you dare call me careless, I took every precaution I could take without being a wizard. You wizards…" he grows silent, scarlet with anger.

"HEY!" Robin is now the one to brandish the taser, not that he uses it, but he definitely holds it. But even as Tim rounds the counter, Constantine releases Keith. "Don't touch him," he snaps. "He told you he's dying. Manhandling him is hardly going to help — " It's then he turns to Keith, "And you. Maybe you weren't careless. But today? That was pretty damned careless! Your responsibilities will be pretty hard to fill if you're dead — and don't remind me that merging this Cait with your soul is the only thing that will keep you from being not-dead because let's be clear: if you dropped off that building today, we wouldn't have someone to meld to the fae-thing — " Tim knows it's his voice, but the words sound SO much like Barbara's.

It's good the kettle whistles because Tim has a myriad of lectures at the ready thanks to years of training with the Batman. It's a wonder he's not his own walking lecture series.

The taser is returned to the kitchen counter and Tim treads to the cupboard where he knows the mugs are kept. Carefully, he extracts one that says Spreadsheet Users Do it In Cells and he smirks before reaching behind it to find one that says Hello… is it tea you're looking for. With an arch of his eyebrows he chooses the second for Constantine's tea. And the first for his coffee.

Rather huffily, thanks to his still-present teacher-voice, he asks, "Want anything, Keith?" Because he's fixing hot drinks anyways.

Constantine turns daggered eyes onto Robin at the brandishment of the taser, but when the younger man bows off, he turns back to Keith. "You don't think that we don't have bigger problems on our plates?" he asks the ginger man, flicking his cigarette before taking a puff. "I'm trying to prevent a legion of Things from Beyond the Void from marching into our reality and taking over the entire planet, while also trying to keep Jim Reha's head from beind bashed in by a reveneant from his companion's former culture- oh, and you know, the usual bevy of demonic incursions and possessions that have an on again, off again relationship with this little blue spitball of a planet," Constantine grouses. "I don't have time to piss out every little fire that sprouts up, and I certainly figured the bearer of the Cait Sithe would have the werewithal to plan out enough to defend himself properly." He seems absolutely unwilling to let Keith off the hook for it.

He fishes in his coat pocket for a small binder- bigger than a datebook, smaller than a school notebook. He unclasps it and opens it up, reading through the entry there. "Been a day since I tangled with the Circle. They haven't left Gaul in centuries- I guess they were proper angry you popped up here in New York."

Keith turns to look at Constantine, his eyes narrowed and full of fury.

"The… bearer of the…" he reaches for a nearby mug and for a moment looks as if he is going to smash it into the Brit's skull, before throwing it against the nearby wall and sending bits of stuff flying everywhere. No, he didn't throw it at the Wonder Woman poster- even when angry, he has his limits. Unfortunately, Miguel's Menudo poster won't be the same again.

"I was not the bearer! The Cait Sidhe used me to escape a magic mirror. I died that night, you goddamned fool, and since then I've been merged to him. He told me nothing, and none of you goddamned wizards showed up to give me any sort of "oh by the way".. oh no, Amanda is right, your whole lot of wizards are full of shit!"

he stands up, "So if you have nothing more to do than to come into my home and insult me, you can get the bloody fuck out of here before I grab Miguel's baseball bat and introduce your head to Baseball, you… you…."

John definitely seems to have gotten Keith's Irish up, the young man is madder than he has allowed himself to be in a long, long time. Since his mother's death. "So if that is the way you are going to treat me, take your ass out of this apartment. We'll deal with the crisis. And if we fail?" his eyes narrow, a spark of malice there, "Then I guess you'll have to make time out of your busy schedule for the problem of the rampaging Cait Sidhe across the world."

The young man moves to push past Constantine and towards the kitchen. Probably looking for more mugs to smash.

Robin watches Constantine warily, his taser still within reach, but he doesn't grab for it. Instead he continues to make the tea because he was tasked with it. Tim Drake: tea maker. He sighs at the man's words and the Bird's eyebrows arch high behind his mask. Through Constantine's speech, Robin makes the man's tea using a packaged tea bag he found hidden behind the mugs. While Tim knows that John requested two lumps of sugar, thanks to drinking black coffee and never really using sugar cubes, he guesstimates how much sugar this really is, and adds four teaspoons — possibly with the thought that maybe extra sugar will sweeten Constantine just a stitch. After all, Tim avoided sugar in coffee because he's sweet-enough.

Unsurprisingly, the tea needs some stirring to dissolve the sugar so with a clang, clang, clang, he stirs the overly sweet tea.

And then Keith erupts. Robin, rather awkwardly just stands there staring at the pair of them. When Keith trudges back to the kitchen, Robin tenses and then states, "Look. Keith didn't ask you to fix it. He asked for help. Most of us are out of our element here. Even a hint of how to defeat it would be useful."

He arches Constantine for several beats and then states: "Unless you don't know."

LOG EDIT: Last sentence arches should be WATCHES.

Constantine doesn't even flinch or even… really acknowledge Keith's outburst. He calmly turns a page in his journal, reading with flickering eyes, while Keith rages loud enough to make a normal man's ears bleed. Constantine seems unimpressed. "Huh. Did you know the Circle Ourorburous has roots in Gaul in the tenth century, BCE?" he says, scratching the side of his nose with his cigarette-wielding hand. He lets Keith stalk off, and when Robin approaches with tea and his words, Constantine accepts the first and contemplates the second.

"This isn't just something I can 'patch up'," Constantine says to the more level-headed of the two. "There's no simple charm or abjuration I can quip off and patch the issue. The Circle has the Cait, and this charming young man needs the Cait to live. Maybe if he'd led a normal, simple mortal life, at most he'd be out a few years off his natural lifespan- but being a superhero does come with some perils. Feeling some creaks and aches you didn't used to have?" he asks Keith, flipping his journal shut and vanishing it into his pocket. "Painkillers not working as well as they used to? That was the Cait, keeping your miserable flesh and blood form knitted together. Now that you don't have that… well, you're not just aging, you're falling apart at the seams."

Constantine rises and looks from Keith to Robin and back again. "There's not much I can do off the cuff to help you. I'll read up a bit- there are records on the Sithe going back millennia. Perhaps even a Fae or two I can whistle up who knows how to help an ailing host." He drags out the last of his cigarette and heads towards the kitchen, once more making the cigarette disappear into the air. "No promises. My advice is to start making your peace with your loved ones," he tells Keith. "And hope I can pull a miracle out of my arse. As usual," he says with a long-suffering sigh. He opens the door to the pantry, spilling warm firelight into the tiny apartment, and pauses, before setting the teacup back on the counter.

He pauses, as if contemplating some words of condolence, then heads into the doorframe. Neither of the men can see the hard set to his jaw or the anger on his face as the door closes behind him, and with a *click* the firelight leaves the room and the pantry door becomes, once again, a simple door to the larder.

Keith doesn't turn around as Constantine speaks. For all the world, his interest is focused on washing the mugs, and he does not reply when Constantine says his piece. Long after the door to the larder closes, Keith remains silent, Constantine's words hammered into him like nails.

Make peace with your loved ones.

"Oh, Gar…" Keith closes his eyes tightly and he stifles a sob. Check that, today just got a lot, lot worse.

"Please keep us informed," comes Tim's very serious reply to the cupboard that Constantine disappears into.

Silence washes over the apartment when Constantine takes his leave, prompting Robin to stay cool, calm, and collected as he stands in the centre of the room considering the words. It's a very Batman thing, and maybe, in a way, he understands his mentor just a little more.

The coolness so often exuded by the Dark Knight had to be a cover. At least, the coolness exuded by Tim is. And, to be honest, it's not as cool as Tim thinks it is.

His lips edge upwards, but it's not a smile, it's a cracked kind of grimace, the reality of the situation finally sinking in. Partially because, he honestly just didn't get it before.

The stifled sob, however, can't keep up Tim's Batman-wannabe charades. He swallows hard and reanimates himself, treading to the kitchen to squeeze Keith's shoulder. "It's not done yet. There's a lot of people working on this. Focus." There's a long pause followed by a very quiet, very gentle, very un-Batman, "Please."

And this is a major reason why Tim is the sidekick.

"I know-" Keith answers, trying to dry his cheeks quickly. The bravado he's been trying to keep up has cracked badly. It may be back together by night-time or the morning… but he was going to need some time for himself before his ego could get the glue out of the tube.

"I want to live, goddamnit," he says, resting the bridge of his nose in a hand. "I wanna stay here with you guys. And Gar." He sniffs and reaches out for a paper towel to blow his nose.

"Goddamnit, I swore I wouldn't get like this… but what he said…"

"*I know*" Robin offers meaningfully to Keith's assertions. "Everyone knows. It's why you're working so hard on this. But sometimes the solution happens when there's stillness and quiet."

"Alright," Tim squints and then tugs on Keiths wrist, pulling him to the futon. "You're tired. You need some rest. It'll clear your mind, free up some space. It'll be good. I'll call Oracle and won't go anywhere," and hopefully won't need tasering, "until I know you're not on your own."

With a faint sigh, Keith situated, and things quieting in the apartment again, Robin goes back to tidying the mugs he'd pulled out, the sugar, and the kitchen in general.

"Things will look better in the morning," it's something Tim has said a lot over the years thanks to night patrols, night spikes in villainous activity, and general chaos that he'd come to expect from Gotham at night.

But for the first time in a long time, he's not convinced.

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