1964-09-22 - Not Quite the Avon Lady Calling
Summary: John seeks answers from an old friend about the Arcive that is not an Archive but is an Archive. Let the cagy looks commence
Related: None
Theme Song: None
lamont constantine lindon 


So, whomever he may be in England - here in America, 'Lamont Cranston' is a rich, withdrawn eccentric, it seems. The address that Constantine has for him is way, way uptown….and proves to be an immense Victorian pile of stone and brick, a Gilded age mansion that's survived long enough to have actual grounds, including a small, walled back garden with an iron gate, lawn, and a glass walled conservatory. There're the sounds of people working in the garden - the scrape of trowel and shift of dirt.

And, to Constantine's senses, there are wards worked into the wall that surrounds it all. Not so much meant as active defense as a means of alerting the owner precisely who might be trying to get in. They have the smoky, dark signature of a familiar magic - this is definitely Allard's house.


Lindon's voice is different when he's not screaming or whimpering. He sounds content, and that's a state John never knew him in. "I'm thinking a rosemary bush right here will be nice," he's telling Allard as he points to an empty bed he's just covered with straw for the coming winter. "I just don't want to go to the conservatory for a spaghetti sauce and accidentally making a spell that ends thyme." He shoots Lamont a look. Oh yes, he did. He stands in a work shirt and jeans, hands on his hips and a trowel in one of those hands.


Constantine sauntered in in the same cheap suit he always had, and his tie present for… why did he ever really bother wearing a tie if it was going to hang there like a noose instead of a statement of status and station? Good lord. The wards were subconsciously noted. he knows this because who the hell taught him those three? That's right. He muttered to himself, "Knock knock you cantankerous old goat." He stopped at the end of the pass to the garden and ashed his cigarette in their basil. Cig hanging back off his lip he leaned a shoulder against the brick idly and watched a moment before noting glibly, "I didn't anticipate the end Thymes being so fragrant." There was a pause though and those dark brown eyes sharpened like a hawk on Lindon curiously, "You?"


Kent/Lamont's expression says everything before he can even open his mouth. Displeased, disgusted, and resigned - brows up, lips together, teeth apart. He's got a lot of bad karma to work off or dispel, and it keeps showing up in this particular form to make things worse. "Constantine," he says, and the lack of welcome is clear. No attempt at snark, even. But then Constantine's looking past him at Lindon, and he's instantly defensive. It seems that it's literally true that even looking at the Archive funny will put his back up, and there's a snap to his voice as he demands, "What do you want?"


Lindon blinks a few times when Constantine addresses him. "I'm sorry, have we met?" Unlike Lamont, he's all coltish politeness and though not explicitly welcoming, there's a hint of that warmth in his voice. Then he glances at Lamont, who did not laugh at his herb joke (though Constantine made a related crack and this is a point in his favor). Seeing Lamont's hackles go up, Lindon drifts closer to him. His wizard will protect him. "Should I put on tea?"


Would it be past John Constantine to strap Lindon to a chair and rifle through his skull and push forces through him to make him give up what he wanted? Oh not at all if it came down to become necessary to get a job done. he's done it before. Kent's seen him do it, and it is generally the type of behaviour that was sometimes needed, and also very much racked up John's debts with forces he couldn't afford to pay off. Kent was a smart man. Dark eyes drifted at the curiosity that was his once-roommate. All that was left was a thoughtful, "Huh."

Turning his head like a crooked crow back to his old Maestro there was a smirk, amused, to the welcome. "Oi, mate, that where we stand now?" His posture straightened, his head tilting back just a bit. The grin was smug and had warmth anyways. If he was going to sweat everyone who dreaded seeing him he'd never leave his flat. It really did seem to encompass the whole of society… well those that survived the unfortunate circumstance of being collateral damage for trying to help him. It wasn't directly his fault, but his company didn't seem to be doing many people any favours. Still the Gutter Mage of the Trench Coat Brigade was there to haunt Lamont's doorstop. What a way to repay the man. Karma was a fascinating thing. "C'mon, Kent, you don't even miss us even a little?" Damn him. Damn him, his bullshit charm, and the hellhound that chased him in here.


He looks the same as he did, physically, on the beach at Dunkirk. Oh, there's no sea-stained and faded RAF uniform, he's neat and clean rather than haggard and sandy. But there are no more lines of wear, no silver in that dark blonde hair - still apparently in his middle forties. He's even got a a decent American accent. "I don't know where we stand," he admits, warily. "But you've a way of not showing up unless you're in need. And I go by Lamont, here, though he knows that name," A jerk of his chin at Lindon. That's an ungracious introduction to his darling, but….there it is. "….how do you know him?" HE hasn't given Lindon's name, not yet. Nor does he intend to.


At least Lindon's features don't show dread or disgust. Confusion, rather. Clearly Constantine knows Lamont, but he seems to know Lindon, too. Sadly, the knowledge that suffuses his consciousness bumps parts of Lindon that are Lindon out, so memories that have been overrun are just gone. He racks his mind for information that's been replaced by ancient Latin poems about flowers. He comes shoulder to shoulder with Lamont. Showing loyalty is important, even though he's burning with curiosity and an innate desire to seek out answers. He's a good relic. He behaves.


Constantine looked a little bit older than the day he died on that beach. Didn't take. Almost a shame. Almost. Sadly, he did have redeeming qualities, unless you were tracking the bounty for him in which case he was just redeemable for cash and valuable prizes. John was remiss to admit where they'd met, and gave the most accurate cagey answer on hand at the time,. "We were put up by the same lovely people Lindon was at the time. I see our friend here had a bit of a hangover it seems." Oh and he had a name. Those eyes were sharp watching Lamont on that, but otherwise nothing in Constantine's body language suggested he was there to take action. He never quite fancied himself a guy and unless either of them were demons nearly anything he wanted to do required preparation. Except that one thing. And he may have. He… did he over ward the block around Lamont's dwelling? One always had to ask and never assume, but even that seemed rude by his own standards.


"The hospital?" Lamont asks, softly. Lindon's mentioned it, the poor thing. HE does not take the Archive's hand or put an arm around his waist, but he's shoulder to shoulder yet with him. The Shadow's expression softens, just a hair….but he's still so evidently possessive. Well, to have a human Relic in his care, and that one the font of knowledge….no wonder he's dragonish


Lindon's breath catches, some flash of something there and gone in his mind too quickly to pin down. "Yeah, I think so," he tells Lamont. He shakes his head and tells John, "I'm sorry, I don't remember. A lot of my time there is a haze." They kept him drugged up real good. His regard for Constantine remains friendlyish, friendlier than Lamont's. He's not the dragon, he's the pile of gold. Gold is a friendly metal. "Were you there?" he asks Constantine.


Constantine tightened his jaw at the mention of the hospital. Ooh he got that one in one. There was a twinge of resentment, but it was more to pride than anything else and that and a dime would buy him a pack of smokes. He let it go. He did answer Lindon though in casual tone inviting himself in one step at a time with utterly no hurry. He took a drag off his cig letting it hang between his lips instead of touching it leaving his hands in pocket for now. "Eh, short story is you convinced me not to quit my day job if that's what you mean." Curious this. Still his attention swiveled back to Lamont. "Allard, you get the message left for you?"


His face is stony, but it's no longer angry or disgusted. "I have not," he says, crisply. Not trying to ward Constantine off, but he's in no hurry to invite him in. "What is it?" Lamont's not terribly fearsome looking, not without gathering his magic - he's only in t-shirt and jeans, himself.


Vic nods slowly. "I'm glad I was able to help," he says, though still clearly somewhat lost. He smiles on contrast to Lamont's stoniness. It's an awkward smile, but sincere. "Did I… was I… they said I was talking a lot while I was out." To Lamont, he asides, "After the coma, I woke up talking, and I didn't stop, I guess. Until I did. They said I slept for a day and a half."


Lindon nods slowly. "I'm glad I was able to help," he says, though still clearly somewhat lost. He smiles on contrast to Lamont's stoniness. It's an awkward smile, but sincere. "Did I… was I… they said I was talking a lot while I was out." To Lamont, he asides, "After the coma, I woke up talking, and I didn't stop, I guess. Until I did. They said I slept for a day and a half."


Constantine was still not entirely thrilled to have that factoid about himself just thrown out on the table. Sure he was damned, and did questionable things, and did a very unorthodox exorcism in Tijuana that one time that he'd rather not discuss, but this was a mite bit personal. That his expression back to Lamont was a bit flinty confirmed as much. He didn't deny it through. He did offhandedly admit to Lindon, "Aaaah ya wouldn't bloody well shut your gob, mate. So I might have shut it. Good for you on the nap though. Glad to hear that worked out." Or you know, he bound The Book and forced all of human knowledge to compress itself so it fit inside a human again without making him fekking explode. There was a twinge of apology in the expression. "Sorry, but I needed the sleep." He really didn't even do it to benefit Lindon, but he was, for what it was worth, pleased it turned out to be mutually beneficial. Still, business at hand. "I came back to New York to look for something. I need your help sniffing it out." Because while John could divine he was a child in comparison to Kent's skills on the matter. Besides, Kent was the one who taught him.


Reluctantly, grudgingly, but as thoroughly as he could. Because what every demon-tainted baby magus needs is a former gangster/warlord/gunrunner/drug smuggler turned Karma's triggerman for a teacher. "Sounds like you saved him," he admits, slowly. Ten points for Ravenclaw! "But what is it you're seeking?"


"Oh, goodness, I'm sorry," Lindon says. Then Lamont points out John might have saved Lindon, and he says, "Thank you. I prefer being alive, all things considered." He looks t Lamont. See? This stray is nice, can they keep him? Lindon and his soft heart. It'll get him in trouble someday.


Constantine turned out alright! Sure he was going to Hell but he was doing it with panache and style even if he didn't want to go. Okay that wasn't a compelling argument in either of their favour. Pointedly to Lamont he answered the exact one thing that would likely win neither surprise nor favour from him. Despite his faults the Con Man was pretty square with his once mentor, even if he loved to deal and barter in half truths. In the end he could be relied on to put himself first though and that was where life got tricky but god literally damn him he was good at what he did. He was at least dependable and earned his sobriquet 'The Constant One'. "I'm seeing a relic."


That makes his lips purse. "What sort of relic." He does not glance at Lindon - no giving the Archive away to John, if John hasn't sussed out his nature already. But….curiosity, oh, there's a weakness for both Archive and Shadow….and that he can't entirely hide.


Lindon does glance at Lamont, though. Still, a glance could mean anything. Then from Lamont to John. "What sort of relic?" he echoes Lamont, then defers to him with a glance. Whoever and whatever Lindon is, he treats Lamont like he's in charge, and Lindon himself merely follows his lead.


He was used to people respecting Kent. it kept him from complaining, but also, the man earned his modicum of respect. Finally he pulled the cig from his face by hand and ashed it with a flick back. That was the tricky thing with Artifacts. Everyone could talk about one casually but with wizards you never know who would do what to get their hands on one. Some may even drive a good man mad, but one had to be a bit of a nutter to be a mage in the first place. Something about giving reality the finger made that a certainty. "You heard about what happened to Aloys Reikland, yeah?" It wasn't far from here, and he knew Lamont knew more than he let on as a diviner.


A beat where Lamont is so clearly trying to decide how much of his ignorance he should admit it. Then he gives in and says, "…..no," It's got a prompting lilt to it, though. "Do tell," His own English accent is slipping through. Something about the presence of his countryman.


Lindon shakes his head vaguely. Nope, he doesn't know the name. Though something tickles in the back of his mind. Aloys Reikland. An image of a lightning storm, of the night everything changed. He swallows, then says nervously, "I think I'll put on some tea. We should have tea, don't you think?"


Constantine stood there like a gunslinger, one hand in pocket and the other with a cigarette instead of a six-shooter. But it was lit and around Johnny Boy? There was a good time. He took a sloooooow drag off it and seemed to scrutinize Kent's reaction on this. "We were together a bit until he got himself into some… questionable things. Calls us up, 'Oy, John, I figured out how we're gonna get out of this.' T'which we says, 'who's we?'" He ashed. "Tells me he found a way to do right by us. Fine." His jaw tightened. "Beyond that? It's not an outside discussion, mate."


Or lack thereof. Kent's face is as still as stone, the gray eyes as cold. He considers this for a long moment. Then he says, finally, "Come in. Yes, Lindon, if you please," A little easing of the voice there - always tenderness when it comes to the Archive. Then he's opening the door that leads through into the conservatory. The little glasshouse itself is full of strange herbs, odd plants…..all of them of occult use, of course.


Lindon heads inside, and he washes up in the kitchen. Then he puts a kettle on and makes sandwiches while he waits for the water to boil. The name is still bugging him. It's somewhere in his knowledge bank. He could just call it up, but there's some kind of aversion inside prohibiting it. After sandwiches are made, he pours the boiling water into the pot with its loose leaves ready to brew. Then he arranges cookies on a plate. When in doubt, fluttery domesticity does the trick.


Constantine had the good manners to put his cig out before he entered their home, though he pocketed the butt of it. One for respecting the laws of hospitality. Two so it couldn't be used as a personal effect to lay a trick on him later. He was so not giving anyone any ammo these days. He walked in and looked around. Interesting. He wasn't judging so much as taking inventory. He was quiet for a while and the opportunistic prat finally softened his expression some. The trail of bodies of people who have tried to care about John Constantine was as long as it was high. Frankly it was almost a miracle Kent was still alive long enough to be Lamont for the number of times he helped bail him out over the years and two world wars. Still the Gutter Mage seemed affected by the discussion. He hated Aloys as much as he loved him and infrequently enough with both that he'd fell out of touch until the end of it it seemed. His jaw tightened and finally he looked to Lamont and said, "He was a lot of things and shite mage and worse companion at times, but I owe him this. He was working on a book with some specific properties. I have reason to believe Aloys was murdered. I need to find his book so I can find out why."


Karma's got a heavy hand on Kent Allard. Miles to go before he sleeps, miles to go…Perhaps that's what's preserved him. He was the one to save John, after all….and Fate's purposes are not yet worked out for both.

The line of the Shadow's back is rigid, as he leads the way. From the conservatory through what must've been a ball room, though now it's only an expanse of glossy parquet flooring, unfurnished, with murals on the wall of landscapes, interspersed with tall mirrors. They pass through it and Lin veers off to the kitchen. The front parlor is where they end up, still kept in that ornate Victorian style. He hasn't bothered to redecorate - it's all plush furniture in deep green, dark wood. Comfortable, though. "Sit, please," he says, indicating one of the chairs. "Lin will bring tea in a moment. And….what properties. Please, tell me all you can."


Lindon arranges everything neatly on a tray. Sandwiches, cookies, tea for three, sugar, milk, and honey. He looks at it over and over again, arranging this and that. Finally, he takes a deep breath and heads to the parlor. Maybe he's just nervous because of the tension between Constantine and Lamont. Sure, that must be it. He sets the tray down on a coffee table and pours for Lamont, doctoring it to his tastes. He glances to John for some indication of how he takes his cuppa.


Constantine followed noting the decor, if it belonged to the original owner, Lamont, or neither indicating it to be a tool of use. Was the furniture original, was it out of contemporary with the rest of the room and if so why? How overt was Kent's collection of 'odd things' might even indicate to him how much mundane foot traffic the man expected. John's mind would not switch off on the small details in this regard. To Lindon he noted, "Two sugars, no cream."

To Lamont John sighed. Where…to start. Did they discuss that Aloys, but slap-dash and occasionally brilliant did something incredibly stupid? Did he bother with the shadows in the dark arts that crawled around? well… that would win him no support. No, he actually had a twinge of guilt. Elbows rested on knees, fingers laced together thoughtfully. Finally he looked up with a faintly pained look to his old Maestro, "It didn't work out with us. He got in over his head and went off in a direction I couldn't follow em. We had u a bit of a falling out over it and we didn't speak for a while." The expression tightened for a moment. Anger. Regret. Disappointment. He did care, often about the very wrong people, but he did.

After a pause John continued sipping his tea. "He wrote me in fragments. Someone, a group maybe, was after his work. He went into hiding and I may have been the last one he contacted. He told me he was working on a book to try to get ahead of the people who were after him and that he'd contact me when he was done… I agreed to help him, but we never heard back. That's a right how'd ya do, yeah?"


Wards. Woven throughout the woodwork, shimmering scarlet to a fellow mage's eye. Nothing odd in the room they're in. "Indeed," Kent says, but his voice has that resignation to it again. No anger, no disgust. "Where was this? Here?"


Lindon fixes Johns tea the way he likes it and hands it over. Then he pours some for himself, one sugar, one cream. He takes a seat near Lamont. He glances between the two men, still sitting on jangled nerves. "The name keeps poking me in the back of my mind," he tells Lamont quietly. "Like I should know it."


Constantine sat still elbows hunched forward on knees. John considered this and nodded slowly. "Yes. Here in New York. Hmmmm three-ish years past." He looked to Lindon and knew where he met the lad. "I may have mentioned him. I honestly couldn't tell you at this point."


There's a frown knotting Kent's brows, and he picks up his tea only to apparently instantly forget about it. Only holding it, gently. "This book. What was special about it?" he murmurs.


Lindon shakes his head, though what he says is, "That may be it." He settles back with his tea. From under one of the chairs in the parlor, a pair of lilac-point feline heads poke out, two kittens about six months old, and they stare. They staaare at the trio and their tea. They don't seem sure about coming out to visit the stranger just yet.


Constantine wished he had a cigarette right now. Dark eyes squint and sharpened on Lamont/Kent debating how much to tell him. In the end John was short on people still alive who were both capable and willing to help him and he might have to give up more than he wanted to in Kent's favour. If the man lacked ambition he wouldn't be where he was today. It was admirable. Finally the answer came through tight teeth and a faint sneer. "The daft sod was trying to create a siphon. A," His hand rolled in loose gesture with the words, "Librum autem scientiam. He wanted to pull all knowledge to one source to learn about the conspiracy hunting him. Use the knowledge to his advantage. Now I dunno what he learned, but it was, turns out, worth dying for."


It's as if Constantine just cast a spell to petrify Lamont. Not only does he not touch his tea, he goes utterly still. To his credit, his g aze does not dart to Lindon…..and there's a dart of telepathic communication flung to his Relic, "loud" enough to pierce even the low roar of noise his lover must contend with. No weight of command, but genuine force, Love, say nothing on that, for the moment. If he doesn't guess already, it's best if we don't tell him.


Lindon goes still in turn, and the color drains from his face, not that he had much to begin with. He glances to Lamont, then drops his shocked gaze to his tea. It needs more stirring, that's the ticket. He swallows hard. "S-sandwich?" he says, offering over the plate. There is water cress and chicken salad for choice. He sets the plate down when his hand doesn't prove steady.

-

Something was up and John would be a shite detective not to pick up on that. There was a faintly irritated, but polite, "No thanks, mate. I'm good." No information forthcoming, he certainly wasn't partaking of food just yet. Beady eyes squint, jaw rest off tilt for a moment. Finally he broke the stare-down, "Kent, after all this time you still don't trust me? Aloys was murdered and we weren't always on the up an' up with one another, but bloody Christ, he deserved better." He looked… actually hurt? When did he have feelings? "Kent, I know we've gone round and round and I may be a disappointment to you, but help me do this for him. That's all I'm asking." Wow, even with Aloys being a complete and selfish ass he had some affection or loyalty for him.


"I believe I know where your book is," Lamont's deadpan is almost flawless, but his eyes have that pale gleam that's always been a warning in them. "It is safe within my care. You've merely provided me with a clearer account of its origins than I had before."


Lindon lowers his gaze, and his tea still needs stirred. Finally, he sets the spoon aside. "Your friend wasn't murdered," he says. It kills him to sit on knowledge. It's why he utters bad ideas to people who shouldn't know what he knows. "He was killed in an accident. It's a tragedy, but there was no crime." He glances to Lamont. He hasn't told him anything about the book, see?


Constantine was holding that look that grew hard, but narrow. He was patiently pitching both eyebrows in confusion striking his focus on Lindon. "The hell you say, luv? I know what they said. I'm telling you I have evidence otherwise." He was… appearing confident in this. The thought occurred to him going back to the base root of why all Mages start learning; the arrogance of it. "Kent, you think I want that bloody book? Keep the fekkin thing. I just want the damn answers also right? I don't care what trinkets and treasures you entertain. I just want to see the people I bloody well love wind up in the ground for crimes unanswered."


"What is your evidence?" Lamont asks Constantine, finally unfreezing, unbending. His tone is mild, rather than challenging.


From what I heard," Lindon says cautiously, "his wards were lax, and the spell exploded on him." He doesn't say misfired, because then where would it have misfired to? That sort of thing leads to questions! Hastily, Lindon says, "That's just what I heard." He relaxes somewhat, despite that Lamont is still tense. If John doesn't want the book, then his problem is solved.


Constantine laced his fingers under his chin. He was irritated and he didn't like dead ends where the answers were. "Because for one the reason he had to do it. For two? His wards were never lax and you know it. He was paranoid and self-indulgent. You tell me if that sounds at all like the math adds up. Ask yourself this- Would John Constantine, the man you taught portents and observations to a generations ago be here telling you else wise? Which makes me assume since I know you're not doubting my research, not really, mate, you're questioning my reason?" they were both con men which did not help here. There was some genuine feeling echoing there. Still he was resigned and dug his heels in. Quietly he slid a cad to the table. "Take your time, Kent. If or when you choose to help me, call. His body's not getting any colder." Hell he'd been dead three years. He stood to excuse himself politely but stopped and gave Lamont the piece he knew he wanted: Method. "Besides. he told me himself." Aaaaaw, John never could stay away from necromancy. Dirty business, but damn if he wasn't a natural. Perhaps that was the problem. He sighed and nodded to the Archive. "Lindon, good to see you top shelf again. Kent… well… it was good to see you anyways."


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License