1964-09-19 - The Damned Knock Thrice
Summary: Strange gets stranger company when a bloody exorcist shows up on his porch looking for answers.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
constantine strange 

It was late in the afternoon on a very unremarkable Monday at the Sanctum. That brings us back to the Sanctum itself; the nexus of magical congress in New York that was effectively hidden in plain sight. So why was the doorbell ringing and dropping by unannounced? Who does this? Well the answer to that was John Constantine standing there in a cheap, wrinkled suit, sunglasses on, cigarette hanging from his lip… and was covered in blood. Most of it likely wasn't his.

The slip-silver wards of the mansion give the spattered man a quick, demi-sentient once-over, and then swish off to report to the master of said manor making his way down the stairs. Strange was in the middle of reading, it appears, one of his usual habits. The book still lies open across the span of his scarred palm; impeccable balance and years of practice keep the tome from tumbling end over end to the mosaic-patterned floor of the foyer.

Dressed in his usual daywear, crisp and starched and professional from combed hair to polished shoe-toes, he pauses mid-way across the room as the wards report: Practitioner. Hunter. Abattoir. Hmm, delightfully vague and yet just enough to allow his imagination wings.

Closing the book and tucking it beneath his armpit, the Sorcerer Supreme opens one of the front doors to the Sanctum.

What a sight. Unusual, absolutely. The last being to show up in that state on his front steps was an Asgardian Varg. This is probably the first time it's been a human being. Steel-blue eyes run from head to toe and back as his dark brows knit. The door isn't opened any more than necessary and his broad shoulders take up most of the remaining space.

"I presume you need assistance?"

Constantine took a drag of his cig and ashed it on the pork taking a deep breath, and then exhaling in an all too casual manner. He hurt. He was tired. He smelled vaguely of copper and brimstone. "Well I need to use your men's room but if there's someone that feels a need to assist, so be it, mate." he needed to borrow the men's room? "I don't need assistance, I need to borrow your library, mate. Fairly certain I'm doing you a favour not asking for assistance. Well… unless you're keen on me bleeding on your porch. That won't be suspicious at all." Oh he was another cheeky Brit. Lovely.

Strange watches the ash fall to the steps and then looks back up at the man, less than amused. Neither of the Sanctum's current inhabitants smoke and he's already attempting to not wrinkle his nose. Incense lingers in his own hair and on his dress shirt, mixed with sandalwood and the faintest touch of black roses. The cigarette's wending grey streamers won't be welcome inside.

"You wouldn't be the first to turn up free-bleeding and you won't be the last. Put out the cigarette and leave it out here and then you can come inside," replies the good Doctor, not shifting from the doorway. "I'll have your Name too before you cross the threshold. That way, the wards won't attempt to take you apart on a cellular level." The guardian spells shift nebulously about behind the Sorcerer, imparting a sense of attention upon the bedraggled guest.

Constantine arched an eyebrow and took one last drag, and made it a good one. "Well that's good of them I suppose." He let it out and and gave the butt a flick back into the street letting it combust leaving nothing left. Hey, it wasn't his house, he'd indulge. His fingers folded and two fingers made a sigil that was for its own purpose a gesture of protection or peaceful intent. "John Constantine. You must be Strange."

The Name rings true to his ears and Strange nods, stepping back and into the small entry hall. It's the unspoken signal for John to cross the threshold safely, though the wards will still cavort about him like a pack of canines, whuffling at his clothing and measuring his aura and generally learning him at obscure, Mystical levels.

"Yes, Doctor Strange. I've heard about you, John," he adds, turning about at the edge of the small steps leading down to the foyer. He still has the book tucked under his arm and he considers the other practitioner. "There's a washroom there, green door. I'll escort you to the library when you're done." It's a perfectly normal door, painted a cool evergreen, and it'll open upon a room with the basic necessities for relieving oneself and washing up afterwards. If there's a need for a shower…that's another request entirely.

Constantine used the restroom to clean himself up well enough. His lip was bruised and split but that was a bit old hat and he had a black eye. Old hat as well and it didn't seem to slow him down. When he came back out his shirt was bereft of blood, though untucked now, and the tie around his neck was more loosely adorned than anything else. He was still in a work mode. Stepping back out he looked around. "Place looks nothing like the London office. Yours then now, yeah? Eeeeeh sorry to hear that. We'll be sure to tell all of your free time that you miss it to." Being the master of a Sanctum is something John, in all cases, would wish on no one. "There. Better."

Indeed, the other practitioner comes out looking much tidier than at arrival, though that is going to be quite the shiner given another day or so. Strange nods and sighs, his expression equal parts thoughtful and long-suffering.

"The Sanctum came with the mantle…which, I'll admit, came with little time to myself, yes. I can still scrounge up an hour or two now and then." He shifts his weight to the other foot, the unoccupied hand hidden away in the pocket of his dark slacks. "Still…" His eyes travel up and around the opulently-decorated place, with its esoteric touches and bright shadows alike. "It's home." He looks back to John again. "What did you need from the library?" The silvery wards have slung themselves about Strange's shoulders in a metaphysical manner now and idly survey the guest to the manor once again, noting differences.

Constantine reached out and gave Stephen a light slap on the shoulder. Casual this one though he seemed to commiserate earnestly, "Well we'll have to grab us a pint then when the opportunity strikes." John waded in with ever lack of propriety, not that he was ignoring the laws of Hospitality, but he was too damn casual to bother putting on airs or stand on ceremony. His dark eyes gave a too honest answer to Strange when asked what he was looking for in the library. "Sidebar might be nice. That and I'm looking for two things, mate. Specifically a book that was penned maybe 3, 3 and a half years ago by a Magus in the area."

"Hmm." Half of his brain is still processing that overtly-friendly shoulder-pat and Strange finally continues. "You'll have to be more precise. Title? Name of the author? If you know either, it's a simple matter of summoning the book in question — no need to even breach the shelves themselves."

"Oh, and no sidebar. Tea stand, yes, if you'd like a cup. Name the blend, we likely keep it here." How possibly delightful for the Brit away from home.

Constantine wasn't put off by tea but it wasn't going to blunt the sting in his face either. A hand rubbed at his jaw thoughtf- wait, was he? He was in a fist fight? Oh the rumors of the Gutter Mage were not exaggerated. Objectivly he decided. "Assam. And it was a tome that would have been made by Aloys Reikland. Three years back I believe haunting Greenwich Village, perhaps here at the sanctum?" Oh that'd be the slipshod wizard that made- Oooooh awkward.

"Reikland." Strange muses for a second, parsing through his photographic memory for the book in question. He was recently in the library, after all, researching some obscure counter-curse. "The Sanctum has been under my care for over seven years now, so there's not a snowball's chance in hell that he would have lived here. In the Village? More likely. I seem to remember…"

The good Doctor frowns, looking off over John's shoulder at the far distance, seemingly beyond the walls of the manor itself. "He was a reclusive one. Middling in proficiency, with a need to prove himself. He up and vanished, what…sometime ago — yes, three years back." A blink and Strange meets the other man's eyes again. "I know of no tome with his name in this Sanctum's library. You're looking for a tome or a diary? With what I remember of Aloys, he wouldn't have handed off his personal works to me without an edict via my mantle."

Constantine waded in Stephen's wake taking in the details, his eyes though were sharp as a hawk's taking in the minutiae. The description won a side nod of his head, "That's sounds like Aloys. Always was a right bugger like that." There was an expression though. Anger? Disagreement? A lack of bourbon to hide in his tea? The Brit shook his head looking back to Maestro of the Sanctum and shared, "Not vanished. I have reason to believe his disappearance was no accident, mate."

The aloof humor dimmed signifigantly. And John shared, "He was an old… friend of mine." He had to pause and try to remember what they were if even talking at the end of it. "I have reason to believe he was murdered. I've come looking for answers. He was working on something when last we spoke and wasn't very specific. Sounded folly idea, but… Well let's be honest. When has that ever stopped any of the likes of us?" Brazen, but not untrue really.

"Come to the living room, we'll talk more. I'll continue rifling through my personal mental lexicon of our tomes on hand," says Strange, leading the way over to the room in question. It's an airy room, with three tall windows along the outer wall that let in the warm pre-autumn sunlight of the afternoon. Two highbacked chairs, upholsted in red fabric, stand before the low-burning fire in the hearth. The tea stand, inevitably present, already boasts the hot water to pour over bags or loose-leaf blends. Despite being somewhat reclusive, one could never claim that the Sorcerer isn't ready to serve tea.

"I'm sorry to hear of bridges burned. What was his task? I may have overheard details in passing from others around Greenwich or within our community." By setting the book on the side-table of the right-hand chair, Strange claims it as his own — and well it is, given the indent of use. He can be found here many an hour contemplating the mysteries of what crosses his plate as Sorcerer Supreme. "I'll pour. Sit, please," and he gestures towards the chair to the left, the Petitioner's Chair, as his Consort names it.

Constantine did seem genuinely appreciative of the offer of tea, and justly so a good cup of Assam was a hard come by in the states. A roughed up hand rubbed his mouth and stubbled jaw thoughtfully, and while he had that shiner, his dark eyes looked alert continuously to the small details of the place. "I don't know about burned really so much as … well burned works." He'd give Stephen that one. Without ceremony the Exorcist dropped into the 'Petitioner's' seat after a glance for carvings or, well he's had some interesting times in strange chairs but today was proving interesting enough without over-friendly furniture.

"Aloys was into a number of things. Towards the last days that we spoke he was going on and on about needing protection. Not quite End of Days or I'd have dressed up for that." He added with glib deadpan, "You only get to see the end of the world once, usually. If one's going to dress up for anything well… eh, I suppose that's it." His eyes floated back to the books again with a squint of interest as to what people were reading these days. "He's been saying someone was after him for a while for what he thought he knew which… may or may not be true. He was working on a relic to give him the edge he needed to steal their truths from them." Finally John sighed and dropped his head against the back of the chair with earnest regret. "Wish that we'd believed him sooner. He's not all bad."

Strange listens as he prepares the cups of tea. Indeed, for the visitor, a nice Assam, bold and brisk, malty in the best way. For himself, a blackberry and clove blend, reminicent of summertime and the stir of honey makes it just sweet enough. The soft clinks of the stirring spoon aren't loud enough to interrupt the tale and the Sorcerer glances up a few times, nodding to encourage John to continue.

Tap-tap-tap, no more hanging droplets on the honey spoon, and he asks first, "Cream or sugar? Honey?" The jar of golden deliciousness catches an errant sunbeam and glows. It's the good stuff, local out of the northern part of the state. Given John's predilections, he'll doctor the tea more if need be before handing it over to the man.

After its delivery, he takes up his own saucer and sits in the Listener's Chair. The testing sip is perfect and he sighs quietly. "I'm sorry to hear that there's a suspicion of murder. I hope that Fate brings you to deliver justice in the matter. Though…a relic?" John gets an interested glance. "I acknowledge that this sounds judgmental, but the man didn't appear to have the ability to create a relic."

Constantine took the tea after noting cream no sugar. That's the ticket. Something that could be as nutty and bitter as he was. Good times. He sipped his tea noting to Strange on the matter of Aloys not appearing to be very much a mage, "Well the bloke doesn't look like he can bowl a 240 either, but here we are. One wizard short." He lifted his cup to the Sorcerer Supreme and tilted his head with wry expression. Thoughtfully he considered, "I didn't necessarily think so but there's a first time for everything and he was also very good at hiding things. I didn't think he was capable of a lot of things and that seemed to bite me in the arse. Still, from the letter I received, I think he might have been onto someone even if I didn't care much for his method." He didn't specify which method, precisely or why, but he certainly seemed to have a subdued, but definite opinion on it.

Strange frowns, though not at John, instead towards the low-burning logs in the fireplace. A terrible thing, to attempt magic beyond one's learning curve, even if the risk and reward are both momentous things.

"I'm surprised that Aloys told you of the method at all, with how clammed up he was at all times. I didn't hear of it, so…it's no shock to hear you claim dismay. What did he tell you of it? If I have to go hunting down a stray relic, I'd rather be aware of anything such as…odd radioactivity or…spring-trap tentacles."

Because everyone hates surprise tentacles.

The expression on John was, ultimately, tired. The tea was good and it felt decent on his throat though he did hop up and go add the honey anyways. Yelling at someone in ancient Hebrew tended to do a tune on the old pipes. On the upshot his ass was not cosmically glued to the chair which made him happy about that much. 1 out of 7 wasn't bad for the day; he'd done worse before. He offered to Strange, "Eh we go on and off a couple decades. He set me up so he could get something. I stole it back. He tried to sacrifice me. I put a hellhound on him." He sighed shaking his head. The tea was good. he'd give Strange that, his hospitality was on point. With a heavy sigh he admitted, "I miss that unbelievable bastard. I'll tell you what if you wanted to hide something he was your jobber for that one." He missed him? Exorcists and dark arts dealers really were out of their cranium apparently.

"Of course he didn't tell me what. Bloody twat made me do all the legwork. He told me he needed one and that he was going to build a tome that would siphon knowledge away from the area around it. So I'd say you can get your fancy wards out or do what might be easier: Figure out where it is and get pretty good and schnockered. Can make it much harder to pick truths. And that's if it worked. I do know there was another interested party. Maybe two. I thought I'd ask you because either you'd lie to me, and bravo to have the bollocks to do that, or you'd be an interested party as the Sorcerer Supreme in keeping New York off the map if someone does something particularly stupid." He paused and rolled a hand, "Plus I promised the London office I'd not tear through here…again." The truth of it.

"Again." Of course Strange would focus on the fact that a 'tearing through' had occurred here before, in New York. It wasn't on his watch, but John still earns himself a reprimanding frown for the revelation. Shaking his head, the good Doctor sips at his tea and settles back farther into his own chair.

"I have no interest in lying to you at this time. Consider me interested instead in monitoring your efforts in your search. I expect you to be considerate of the city around you. I have little time to dedicate to…overly-enthusiastic efforts." Still, something is tickling at his memory. Something has a thin line of connection to information embedded in that wily brain of his. What is it…? What pinged it? "You mentioned building a tome. The relic was supposed to be able to absorb information…?"

Constantine squint a look to Strange, "It wasn't my fault." It never was, was it, John? At the very least he wasn't immediately striking the image of a careless sot, but the notoriety in closed circles that a trail of bodies seemed to follow John Constantine out of collateral damages was hard to ignore. Smart, Strange, smart. His hand rubbed at his cheek thoughtfully and offered, "As far as I could parse together? This would seem the case. His goal was to create a funnel, a self writing book that would capture knowledge from around it. I told him people with better luck than me haven't even tried that and lived to tell about it. He sounded… scared though. He's been a lot of things, and while hastey? Generally stupid or ill researched? I don't think that fits Aloys. DIrty and underhanded sure, but really isn't that part of the charm of eccentric hermits these days?"

The Sorcerer's lips rise into a thin, if somewhat distracted smile.

"I assure you, my hands are quite clean, if you're insinuating anything…though sleight of hand has always been my forte," he murmurs. And now, he's progressed beyond even simple card tricks. See, Ma? It amounted to something beyond a side-hobby! "Gods below, it's on the tip of my tongue. You're not wrong, John," he adds, glancing to the man again. "There's a connection here somehow. A spider-webbing of intrigue." Strange shakes his head slowly, peeved at the gap keeping him from making a solid inference as aid to his guest.

Constantine arched an eyebrow and sipped his tea. Apparently he was less hung up on any idea that Strange would be involved. He had an unorthodox but decently sterling reputation. The take away? "Oh yeah? We should play cards sometime, mate. We don't even have to agree on how many decks we're using." There was a hint of a grin, and a wry wink given to Strange withthe implication: If you can get it to pass he'll allow it to be legal. "Christ on a cracker I haven't done an all mages poker tourney in a while. Though as it stands to reason if youfind that one asshole who brings their tarot to the mix you may get a full house and have three people die. Very messy. Cartomancy is enough gambling on it's own, yeah? But still a good idea." He could talk if he wanted to while they brainstormed, though honestly he was a bit jazzed on the idea of a dirty poker night if he was honest. He quieted to let Strange think and mused, "If the old man were here we could cut this down to a third of the time. Inconvenient that."

"Damn inconvenient," Strange agrees quietly, sipping again at his tea.

A minute or two passes in silence before the good Doctor shifts in his chair, moving to rest an ankle on his opposite knee. Two fingers bury themselves in one silvered temple and he shakes his head slowly again, glaring into the fireplace.

"I have suspicions, John, but be aware that I don't share without absolute certainty in my musings. I hate wild goose chases as much as the next person. Still…again, consider me intrigued. Keep at your sleuthing. I'll pass on any pertinent information as I can — and I'd appreciate updates, considering your thoughts on Aloys having been murdered."

Constantine had a method. He had a very unorthodox method that was not beloved by most but one would be hard pressed to say the exorcist lacked cunning, style, and effectiveness. His eyebrows pitched, sympathetic to having this dropped on someone. Hell it happened to him all of the literal God damned time. "Aloys deserved a lot of things, mate, but if this is true? He didn't necessarily deserve that." It was personal for him and he was not without the heart for compassion but he wasn't letting it slow him down. He was here, he was doing something about it. He reached into the interior pocket of his trench coat and pulled out a wallet and therein a card handing it to Stephen. It read simply:

John Constantine
Exorcist, Demonologist, and Master Dabbler of the Dark Arts
(Phone number included)

"If you need to get a hold of me, as a thanks, consider me at your disposal to aid the council while I'm here. If Central Park keeps on as it is? Hell, ya may need me, mate." There was a arch of one eyebrow. He was aware of the hellmouth that ripped open there, but at least he did his homework.

"No one deserves death before their time — and thank you," Strange adds as he considers the business card. The firelight shows through the paper faintly as he tilts it between delicately-trembling fingers, the back-glow both darkening and embolding the information on it.

Then, a faint snort. "The Hellmouth has been dealt with. It is contained and warded by spells locked into the ley-lines beneath the Park itself." He seems to realize that his self-confidence is getting away from himself and clears his throat. "Still, the offer of aid is appreciated and noted. I'll call upon as need be."

Constantine finished his tea and tilted his head, "Don't suppose you have a bead on the old man, Diviner by the name of Lamont. I heard last he's in the states, but if you do hear something might ya tell 'em to look me up?" He didn't seem to expect an answer, and if Strange had one he didn't seem to expect him to give it. Hell, he wouldn't. He didn't even give the whole name as anyone who knew him had it and anyone that didn't didn't need his bloody name. That was jsut the way of it hooking for information. With that though, and the hook landing as they say, he stood. "That said, I have a couple of blokes to go bail out of trouble if I know them well enough. I will keep you posted."

Strange eyes the other man. The Sorcerer Supreme has quite the poker face in the end; perhaps only the glitter behind his eyes gives away the interest. Or maybe it's all light play of the logs a-flame.

"If we cross paths, I'll be sure to pass on word that you're intending to speak with him. Still…yes, keep me posted." He sets aside his cup of tea and rises, intending to walk John to the front doors of the Sanctum. "Good luck," he adds with a small smile as they reach the threshold and he opens one of the heavy dark-wood doors.

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