Jason had purchased a sizeable brownstone near Gotham’s old city. It was a place to keep his sizeable collections on books and other unique artifacts. He didn’t keep it hidden, or try and deceive anyone on where he lived. And for the casual intruder…well, they were quick to think twice when Etrigan was out.
The rain came down in sheets as the lightning threatened to sunder the sky. Essentially, just another night in Gotham. Tonight, he was expecting a guest. One Zatanna Zarara. Zee, as she’s most commonly called. They’d fought together on various things and relayed on each other when one didn’t know something, or didn’t know who to turn to.
But, he knew that Zee would be coming over for a visit. That portal from last night didn’t just go anywhere. It went to the House of Mystery. And it’s current owner is one John Constantine. Which could only mean that Zee was involved somehow. Jason wasn’t worried about Rebecca’s wellbeing, or safety. She couldn’t be more safe if she tried.
So, sitting by the fire. Book in hand, a glass of a good scotch on the table next to him. Now, it was just a matter of time when she’d show up.
When Zatanna needs to speak to someone she doesn’t really need to make formal invitations. Jason was an ally, even if he sometimes was caught on the wrong side of things. It’s why she felt completely at home and comfortable enough to perch herself on the arm of his chair in his study. A wordless action as she crossed one fishnet-covered leg over the other and leaned over to look at what he was studying with such focus.
She hoped he was thinking about what happened the other night. It made some rather unpleasant ripples. Gotham wasn’t the place to make ripples. If she was smart she probably wouldn’t have even come to work the clean-up, but she did. Coming back to this city cast a rather gloomy and dark cloud over her mood. There were a lot of memories here, she had friends here. One of those friends in particular wasn’t here anymore. Maybe he was dead. In her heart she hoped that it wasn’t true. It didn’t stop her from crying when she heard the news. The sadness dragged her back down to a very dark place. She hadn’t been there since she lost her father.
“You know I have a lot of questions, Jason. Why don’t you tell me your tale of what happened?”
It may have been Jason’s scotch but her graceful hand reached for it to bring it to her lips. A little nip to chase away a case of the cloudy uglies. Maybe it would prepare her for hearing how much of a mess this whole situation caused.
“Your Ward is fine, Nightmare Nurse can only stomach babysitting for so long though. She’s not as patient as you are. I’m assuming she’s your ward or apprentice, whatever you want to call it. Not your girlfriend right? I guess this is why I’m asking you. Maybe if you had told me about this earlier this would have come to a different end.”
“You are not the only one with questions, Zee.” saying as he closed the book on something or another demonic. Jason figured she’d come, and didn’t bother to try and stop her from taking his drink. “I figured as such. After I went back. I scryed the portal and saw it led back to the House.” saying as he took another glass and poured himself a drink.
“She is not my girlfriend, a student apprentice role would be suitable for what she is. As for what happened. Well, her parents are both heavily genetically altered due to some concoctions they had ingested. Then they decided to get pregnant. On the night of Rebecca’s birth. Morgaine LeFey decided that she wanted a new army of demons without hells sway. Her father and I stopped her, thanks to Etrigan able to get in and bite her. You know how he loves to bite her.” a small smile played on his lips, knowing that Morgaine was bound to do something soon.
“All the babies that had been infected were cured, except for her. She never displayed symptoms of whatever Morgaine was trying to do. As far as I could tell, the demonic possession, if you will, never took hold. Her blood was fine. So, I left her…but kept a cautious eye on her through the years to see if she would develop anything more than what was already given to her by her parents.
“That is her story. As for why we were on the rooftop… well, we were investigating a cult that was attempting to bring Barbados back. And… well, I assume you know why that wouldn’t be a good idea. Turns out, the dummys weren’t summoning Barbados, even though they were trying to. A fight ensues, we start taking out the men, then something triggered my change and Rebecca’s change..”
Taking a sip of his brandy.
“Then Asa shows up and starts healing magic on the bad guys…and well, as they say, the rest is history.” crossing his leg, he turns to look at her. “The Order of St Dumas also made an appearance.Special guest. You can guess how that ended.”
“Right, except that it was a trap all along. They were attempting to control her, they might have gotten a two-for-one special but it takes a lot more than a little infernal ritual to control the Big Guy. No one controls Etrigan.”
She relinquished the glass without a protest. It was his and it was only fair he take it back. Zatanna was only speaking the truth as she saw it, even the bit about controlling the demon. Even Merlin gave up and settled for binding him to a human.
She groaned and brought a palm to her face when he mentioned the order. Could she guess? She certainly could. It probably ended horribly.
“I can’t help you with that. The Order will probably seek retaliation against you and Rebecca.”
She threw her head back with an exasperated sigh.
“People died, Jason. Enemy or not, that goes right against the hero code that this city has. Gotham has its own way of dealing with problems and you-know-who is probably going to come crashing through demanding some answers. Not to mention, the taking of human life leaves a pretty nasty stain on the soul. So add in a demon-tainted young woman and deadly mess and you’re just adding fuel to the fire.”
She tilted her head to look him in the eye to see if he understood that, if he understood the seriousness of the situation.
“She needs discipline, she needs to know how to control herself. She has to fight against those dark urges and her very nature if she wants to continue to live in this city and live with her freedom intact. If she’s your apprentice, it’s your responsibility to show her how, not show her how to kill a bunch of lame-ass infernal wizards. Though, I’ll bet that was probably due to Etrigan’s encouragement and believe me, I’ll have words with him too. I think this is a good opportunity for you, I think you would learn a lot but you and the demon need to be a team on this. Rebecca also needs to get a say in this too. She’s tough but she’s still going to crash once the weight of her actions hits her. Are you sure you can handle this? It’s okay if you can’t.”
“To be fair. We tried to be non-kill. The men were killing themselves, essentially. Even going as far as slicing the throats of the men who were unconscious.” a wave of the hand. “I understand fully what you are telling me, Zatanna. I didn’t know she could transform. She never experienced that in the times I observed her.” taking another drink.
“I understand what you are saying, Zatanna. From the moment we set foot on that roof, we were going for a non-kill solution. I knocked out two of the men that were on me. And one just about jumped onto Rebecca’s sword. That’s where things went south. It was not, and is not our intention to kill.” taking a deep breath. “I have been fighting for over a millenia, Zatanna. I know what the consequences are for taking a life. Believe me, I do not wish to kill anyone.” now he was looking her back in the eyes.
“There are things about Rebecca that I am still learning. It’s been many a year since i’ve had an apprentice of any kind. None like her, I must say. I believe she will do good under my tutelage and bring a unique aspect of what she is. If done right, she has the potential to lead the next age of Magic.” a shrug.
“Don’t worry about the Order. I am unconcerned with them. They won’t be the first order to attempt to kill me and Etrigan. I am sure they will not be the last.”
“If done right, she won’t be following the path that so many others have done before her that leads straight to damnation and hell. She might even be a warrior against the very black magic that created her. That’s entirely up to her and in some part, who guides her.”
She did make a bit of an eye roll at mention of the order, “What about Rebecca? She’s never fought them. This is probably the point where you need to think a bit beyond yourself and the demon and consider who else is getting dragged into these problems.”
She leaned over just a tad, not quite sliding off of the arm of the chair but it looked like she was about to.
“I want you to be happy. I also don’t want you to get in over your head with this. If you need help, please, ask for it.”
A bit of a smirk played on her face as she brought her cheek against his, her lips brushing against his ear, “Jason, there’s something I’ve always wanted to try with you…”
“Do not worry about me and Rebecca. Whatever happens, we will deal with it. And if it becomes something more than we can handle, then we’ll be sure to ask for help. But, I have had apprentices before…. Though, none quite as stubborn as that young woman.” pressing his lips together, he picks his drink up, and before taking a sip, he tilts it in a way to offer it to her first.
Turning to look at her, a brow lifting. It wasn’t that he never thought her attractive, it was just that their relationship was always .. platonic. Afterall, he knew her father. And he’s known her since she was just a child. Though, he’s learned to look past that as … well, most people are much, much, younger than him. Watching her for a long moment, he tilts his head. “What is it, Zatanna?” asking with his brow still lifted.
“What is it that you wanted to try?”
She batted those long dark ashes, she felt a slight twinge of guilt over what she was about to do and may have to answer to him if it fails. She did respect him, as she respected many of her friends and tried not to toy with them too much. She was just genuinely curious and she would never know unless she tried. At least it seemed this would be a safe way to do it, even if Jason seemed a bit confused.
<font color=blue>“Enog enog mrof O’ Nam- Esir eht moned Nagirte”</font>
Her eyes flashed blue as she whispered the words against his ear, the words taking on an alien form as she spoke them backwards. With her tongue though, those backwards words could do quite a lot.
She moved back after the last word was spoken, not wanting to be caught in the flames or perhaps a foul mood of a demon if her little trick had actually worked. Not that she’d allow the demon to be foul for long. She didn’t have time to deal with his temper when she had serious business to discuss with him.
Dropping the glass, he grips one hand on the edge of the recliner, and the other on her thigh, though, unintentionally.
“You could have asked, Zatanna.” saying as he pushed himself from her. Soon, flames would wrap around himself as his flesh started warp and change. Soon, the Demon would be standing in his place as the flames dissipated. Looking around quickly, he’s confused by the change. “Who dares summon me?!” asking as he then turns his attention on Zatanna, hopping back, he readies himself for a fight.
He’s not sure if she’s under the influence of someone else, or something else.
“What do you wish, Zatanna? You dare summon Etrigan when there is no need?! Bah!” waving his hand as he stalks towards the window to glance out. “There is no fight, no reason for me to be here. So, what is it you want, Zatanna? If you are under the influence of another, please know that I will make your death quick and painless. Then find whoever did that, and feast on their entrails while they still breathe.”
He’s nothing, if not, chivalrous.
…in his own, very violent way.
“Hey, Big Guy,” she said with a warm tone and a smirk.
It’s true, it’s probably a bad idea to summon him where there’s not something for him to take down. He’s better thrown at the enemy than brought out for tea and cookies. Fortunately there was no tea and no cookies and all she could really do to get his fire down to a simmer was bring her hand up to put against his armor as she stepped closer.
“Oh that was positively frightening, many will wretch with disgust at the sight of your disemboweled enemies. I’m fine, promise. I’m glad to see you too. I won’t keep you long, next time I promise it’ll be to fight or play,” she offered him a wink. She knew that a lot of the time it was necessary to talk on his level. She didn’t want to be an annoyance to the demon.
“Penny for your thoughts?”
She was very good with casting illusions but this trick was merely a bit of slight of hand as she reached behind his ear and withdrew a shiny penny in between her fingers.
“Jason needs your help training the young halfling. She’s better served on this realm but if she keeps it up, she may not be able to reside it in for long. She might even be able to keep up and fight beside you one day. What are you thinking on this? Do you want to help her or do you want to eat her? You can’t let her go around feasting on entrails. She needs to play by the rules, don’t kill the humans.”
“Eh?!?” he gives her the strangest of looks as she pulls the penny out from behind his ear. Reaching behind his ear, he makes sure there’s nothing else there then narrows his eyes at her for a long moment “Bah! You and your kind are insufferable!” waving a hand at her as he then walks over to the recliner before moving to sit on it as he listens to her. “…But, I am pleased to hear that you are not under the influence of another. As humans go, you are … most pleasant to be amongst.”
When she spoke about Rebecca, he shrugged.
“The girl has potential. I wish to keep her, and then potentially place her in a position of power in hell.” maybe that’s not what Zatanna wanted to hear. Letting the moment sink in for a long moment as he steepled his fingers, hiding his mouth behind it before lifting it and giving her a toothy grin to show that he was kidding.
“We fought upon that rooftop. The girl is poised for great potential. I wish to keep her around, Jason can train her, and I shall assist. Do not worry about her feasting on entrails of the enemy. That is suited for our most hated enemies…such as Morgaine. But, Morgaine is no ordinary human.”
“You do not need to worry, Zatanna. It may not look like it, but I tend to believe Jason has things under control. I suspect you and that most insufferable sorcerer have her?” asking. “Next time I see him..” gripping the edge of the recliner, he squeezes it, nearly ripping it off the recliner itself.
Go figure, someone wants to kill John.
Then checking back behind his ear…just to make sure.
“Bah! I do not like being toyed with, Witch.”
Zatanna fell for the joke, hook line and sinker, it showed by the scowl that crossed her features and she was inhaling and about to give him her thoughts on that subject before he smiled. Her body language changed like a switch was flipped. She’d much rather keep the mood light, just being in this city had her feeling weighed down and a bit emotionally frail. She was genuinely happy to interact with the demon. It was a great distraction.
She flipped the coin between her fingers before spreading them, making the penny ‘disappear’. Sometimes it was the most simple of tricks that were the most entertaining.
“Actually, Asa is watching over her right now. You don’t need to attack the chair over the thought of John being near your girl.”
She was already going to need to fix Jason’s barware, she didn’t want to have to deal with the mess of fixing the entire study over a fiery temper from just mentioning Constantine.
She didn’t want to see him off in a foul mood and didn’t want to escalate the situation any further. She merely moved over to the side of the chair and leaned against his massive arm.
“You’re easily one of my favorite and most ferocious demons, Etrigan. Thank you for speaking with me…hrmm….”
She leaned in a little closer, eyes narrowing by his ear, “I see another one…right here!”
The toying certainly didn’t stop at parlor tricks, not when she snuck in to peck his cheek, leaving a fresh smear of lipstick in the wake of her lips.
“Hmph!” swatting when she pecked her lips against his tough, scaly skin. “Bah! I see through your lies, Zatanna. But, Your compliments are received. If you are ever need of my assistance, know that I will come to your aid…” trailing off as he paused. Then gave a grin.
“One thing I must ask of you. When you see Asa. Tell her that I am in search of a mate. A .. demon who can truly give me an offspring.” grinning “I will slaughter sheep and cattle in her name. I will burn a church in her honor. I will do anything for her hand.” winking as he stepped away from Zatanna.
“Farwell, Zatanna.” bowing before her.
”Gone now, O Etrigan
And rise again the form of man!”
Once again, the column of flame would erupt and Jason would be standing there, staring at Zatanna.
“Please. Do not ever do that again. John did it once and Etrigan nearly gutted him. But, I suspect Etrigan likes you more than him, anyway.” waving a hand as he walks over to the remnants of his glass.
“I’ll pass along the message. Don’t get too hopeful about her accepting the offer, though. I know it’s lonely for you on this side, you’ll find something that works out,” she didn’t even know how to respond to that any further. The request stunned her in a way that made her cheeks flush.
It was just not something she wanted to linger on too much longer. Perhaps it was just better than Etrigan was wrong about his perceptions of Asa. Knowing that was relieving but knowing the truth about Asa was also terrifying as well. It wasn’t something that was up to discussion, some truths were better left in the shadows.
<font color=”blue”> “Riaper.”</font>
The broken glass was her fault but she didn’t need to leave it a mess. Broken shards pulled themselves back together and fused back into one glass that stood brilliantly on the floor as if it were brand new.
“I’m sorry, Jason. I’m really in a foul mood and needed some levity. It’s good to know, just in case, anyhow. I don’t plan on doing it again. He tolerates me a lot more than John.”
In a way, she was impressed it worked. The startling bit about it also meant that she could just as easily weave Merlin’s own magic. That was how the man and the demon were bound. It was better not thought about too deeply.
“You both seem to be in agreement. I’ll pass along the message to Asa. Rebecca will need to decide if she wants to continue to be your apprentice. I suppose you’ll see her in class if she does decide that is the path she wants to take.”
Wordlessly she bent down to pick up the glass, reaching for the bottle to refill the glass before offering it back to Jason. The apologetic and somewhat sheepish look in those brown eyes for her was hopefully enough to prove she was sincere about her apology. Jason didn’t need to be messed with and neither did Etrigan. There was a purpose behind the attempt.
“Is there anything I can help you with?”
Taking the glass, he places it on the stand and then moves his hand onto her shoulder. “Don’t worry about it, Zatanna. I know Gotham has history for you.” offering a squeeze of her shoulder, he gives her a bit of a smile. “At this moment, I do not think there is much you can help me with. Unless you can teach me how to deal with young women with anger issues and able to transform into a bloodthirsty demon?” asking with some levity.
“I will be fine. Me and Etrigan will be in contact about the girls progress.” taking a deep breath, he glances out, then back to her.
“You should go talk to Richard. Maybe that will help with your mood?” asking, thinking maybe that it would help. He could hope, anyway.
She thinks she knows everything and she can handle everything herself. I was like that at that age too just less angry, and toothy and demonic. She needs outlets for that rage. Most college students just drink, party and screw the stress away…”
Zatanna held a finger up.
“…I also did that. Anyhow. You’ll figure something out. Try to put yourself in her shoes.”
She sighed at the mention of Dick. He wasn’t going to be happy about this situation and she really didn’t want to put herself in the range of fire. It was probably better for what scraps of a decent relationship they had to not put herself right in the middle more than she has already.
“Misery loves company, right? I’ve got to get back. Work first, a stiff drink and a hot bath after. Take care, Jason.”