1964-10-22 - The Kindness of Strangers
Summary: A young woman comes to John Constantine for help.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
constantine cassidy kai 

It's getting on into late evening when there's a knock on the door. There stands a woman in a nightgown with disheveled blond hair, clear blue eyes flecked with dark spots of unnatural blackness, and bruised feet with some cuts upon them still bleeding from walking in glass on asphalt. She's shivering, and she clutches John's card in her hand.

John was rarely arsed to get up and get the door and was in the bricked off alcove that was the bathroom actually trying to shave and look like a human being today. "Cass, 'an 'oo'grab it?" Hard to talk and shave at the same time. His eyes squint door-wise and the razor taptaptapped on the basin. "Might be the -" Well everything in Chinatown was Chinese food, "That might be Chao's delivering."

"Did you even order from Chao's?" Cassidy asks from where he lays sprawled out on the couch with one of the apartment's magical knicknacks between his hands, fiddlin' with it, just like he oughtn't, and yet he hasn't turned into a toad yet. Dragging himself up off the couch he wanders over to the door and opens it. He's dressed in a pair of jeans and a well-worn faded grey t-shirt, the ink on his arms clearly showing as he studies the woman in her nightgown, "It's for you!"

The woman blinks up at Cassidy. The tattoos give her pause, but she doesn't retreat from the doorstep. Instead, she asks quietly, "May I see Mr. John Constantine, please." Never mind Cassidy just yelled back it's for John. She had a speech prepared in her head, and damn it, she's going to say it. "I was told I could find him here." Okay, it was a short speech.

John would award her extra bonus points for brevity. A hand towel was found and employed to wipe the errant traces of Berma Shave from his jaw and neck as he waded out at Cassidy's beckoning. He hrmmed quietly and had to agree with the Vampire, "Yeaaaaaaah wrong kind of take out I ordered." He didn't have his dress shirt on because he was at home and he wasn't bothering trying to impress letting her make of the quilt of tattoos in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Latin covering him with several Seals of Solomon. These boys didn't play fortune teller that was certain. The towel was flipped over shoulder and he offered a hand out professionally. "I'm John. Come in. Have a seat. Who sent you and are you harbouring any egg rolls on you?" It didn't hurt to ask. He looked to Cassidy like it was worth a shot and then back to her.

Cassidy steps out of the doorway and motions the woman on in. She could be possessed, a demonic presence, or a country music singer — for all he knew she was a chick in a nightgown barefoot on the doorstep, and he leaves her to her own devices to come in or not until John goes over to greet her. He takes up the doodad he was fiddling with and puts it back in the cabinet, closing the door. No blowing up company before they'd had a chance to introduce themselves. There's a glance from John to the woman and back again, and the look Constantine gets is one of skepticism. Cass is not holding out hope for eggrolls.

The woman stares at John. "Egg rolls?" she says in a small voice "No, I only have this." She holds up the card. Then she tentatively shakes the offered hand. Her hand is damp and cold, so cold, but it's nothing that can't be explained by the weather. She takes a step closer, and she winces. Her poor feet. How is she even walking on them? Gingerly and with a limp, apparently. She keeps an eye on Cassidy as she looks around nervously. "I was sleepwalking again," she says, "only this time something h-happened. S-sorry, my name is Stephanie. Stephanie Wilson."

John sighed. No eggrolls. Damn he was hungry. Still the woman could have any number of things going on and she was, well hell she was scared. He started at the beginning, "Who told you to find me?Start at the beginning and if it seems unrelated but weird to you please include it as a detail." He looked to Cassidy and said, "Will you get me that jar of salt off the bureau and some of the chalk, mate? I promise eggrolls."

Stephanie says, so meek, "May I sit down please? My feet…" She needs medical attention, and yet here she is talking to a purveyor of the dark arts and a vampire. "A redheaded woman gave me your card. She said you might be able to help me. I was having a nightmare about t-tentacles." She shudders. "And I woke up screaming in the street surrounded by strange people. Mutants, I think, except they helped me." Those damn dirty mutants might not be so bad after all. "In the nightmare, the tentacles were coming out of my mouth, and when I woke up, my throat hurt and there was a horrible taste in my mouth."

Cassidy wanders off to go get the salt and chalk as requested, though he does cast a glance back at the woman and John with an arched eyebrow. "Just make sure you put the chalk on the floor and the salt on the eggrolls an' not the other way around, mate." He's kidding, but for a moment he looks serious. He studies Stephanie and says, "Oh shite, did ya get some bad mexican from two blocks down? That shite always makes me wake up tastin' like I been suckin' on a mud covered tire all night and makes me dream of half-naked mariachis and an army of tiny burros." He pinches his fingers together to illustrate the size of the evil tiny burro army.

Constantine had to agree with Cassidy with a faint wince, "He's not wrong. Cass, I don't think it's the Mexican, mate." A hand went out and he let her lean on it pointing to the closest chair. When she sat he made a circle on the wood floor with the chalk and then listened ot the whole tale. "Heard a bit about this. Waking nightmares. Tiny burros. Wait tiny buros?" He squint at Cass and blinked, "We have got to stop ordering from there." He looked back to the poor woman and his tone was actually lacking salt, "How long ago this start? You eat something? Something get handed to you?"

Stephanie sits, and she sighs with relief. There's still little pieces of glass from a broken headlight still imbedded in the bottom of her swollen feet. "Just this evening," Stephanie says. "Well, no, in summer I had an incident where I sleepwalked and ended up outside my apartment building. Nothing bad happened, except they told me I almost jumped out my window. I just laid down for a nap, then I woke up in the street, both times. Last time there weren't tentacles." She shudders. The waking nightmare is still haunting her, if in more mundane ways. "All I did was lie down."

"Tiny burros, with little hats, sombreros, and ponchos," Cassidy can be heard muttering as he wanders off toward the kitchen, leaving the two to have their discussion while there's some clanking and banging going on in there that might be the tea kettle. One can't be sure. When he comes wandering back out again it's with a tray with cups and a teapot on it. "Did ye have a strange hankerin' for hot dogs? I find that happens to me sometimes," he says and sets down the tray before pouring her a cup and offering one to John. "There ya go, luv, that'll make it better.. well, that and a doctor. But I can't help ye there."

John took a deep breath and reached over to check her forehead and examine her eyes peering through them to peek into her soul, like one does, to see if anything else looks swirling about there. Hmmm. He didn't comment about the tiny hot dogs. See, Cassidy got these things. Then tea showed up and John murmured to him confused, "How do people function without you, Cass?" That was John for 'cheers'. Yup, this was definiately a recurring thing.

She's clammy, definitely out in the cold too long in too little. It's her soul that's a mess. She's not possessed, but there are remnants of possession in there. The entity was ripped from her, leaving its little hooks in her soul. They've since dissipated into shadows, but the 'ash' of that dissipation lingers. It's gross, and it's ugly, and it's made of nightmares. Dead nightmares, now. She's alive, she's herself, but the filth left behind will, in time, poison her psyche.

"No bloody clue," Cassidy says, "I'm a peach." Must be something he picked up from Tulip or Jesse, because the southern twang sounds really odd mixed with his Irish accent. He hands out the cups of tea and then falls into a nearby chair, slumped there as he stares at the pair of them. "So, what's the verdict, doc? Are we gonna chant some words until her head spins around and she spits pea soup at us?"

John squint and looked around and finally nodded in answer to Cassidy. "That's exactly what we're gonna do, Cass. Chant words at her til lunch shows up…again." He got up and got a few random things from the room. Hand of a raccoo- wait that's not a raccoon, that's a fox foot. He lobbed it back into shelf and found the fox foot and some herbs. He opened the ar and squint passing it to Cassidy, "That smell fresh to youu? That's either Lapsang tea or grandma's ashes." He put the chalk to the ground and handes her the fox foot. "Hold that in, ummm left haaaand. There we go." He crouched down and popped his head back up, "You can drink your tea, luv" A pail with water, room tempreature, was put at her feet with herbs and salt. "That's not the spell. You hav blisters." And then he went on withthe drawing tiny intricate runes in teh circle of falk around her.

Stephanie takes the fox foot tentatively and admits, "I don't know what's going on." With her other hand, she takes a drink of her tea. "Thank you," she murmurs, and when he explains the bucket is for her blistered feet, she slips her feet into it and immediately sighs with relief. Dirt comes off in the water, remnants of tar from the asphalt. That glass is going to want to come out, but soothing the blisters is a fine start. She watches John work, and she says nothing of it. She has no clue what's going on, but the mutants told her to come here.

Cassidy takes the jar that's handed to him and takes a whiff, because it's Cassidy and he has no fear. "I think that one's grandma," he says and hands it back to Constantine after patting the top of the jar, "Sorry, Grandma." He puts that jar back on the shelf and hands John another one, "Try that'n" He then wanders back out of the way and flops back into his chair. This is so not his ballywick, but he does enjoy tea and a show.

John took the pot from Cass and squit at it. He didpped his little finger in there and tasted it. "That's dirt and a dead cactus. Three years of not watering something makes one unhally. Ummm see if we have a first aid kit somewhere. Her feet are a mess." He looked up to her and said, not unkindly, "We'll do this, you will drink some water. We'll bandage your feet and for the night you can sleep here on the couch so we cna see to that nothin else bothers you in the interum. yeah?" He nodded and started lighting candles around her. Let the crazy shouting in Latin begin. John was a flippant sunnova bitch but when he was in his element it was an honestly impressive thing. The further into the chanting he got the taller the flames on those candles got until they were 8" flames.

Stephanie looks to Cass, then to John, her black-speckled eyes wide. "All right," she says with a slow nod. This is a leap of faith for her, and if her night hadn't already been so weird she might have never believed in any of this nonsense. Only it's not nonsense now. As John chants, the remnants of the entity in her psyche start to stir, and she winces, her brow furrowing as a headache comes on. "I feel something," she says. "It's digging around in my brain, it hurts." Then she starts to heave, not unlike a cat due for a hairball. Except when she opens her mouth, what comes cascading out is blackness that whooshes up in a plume, all that stuff inside her jerked free. The shadows begin to dissipate, and what rains down is a fine black ash. Harmless, but it's a bit of a mess. Stephanie slumps forward, panting for breath.

John reached out a hand that caught her shoulder and intensified the chanting until it stopped. Cloud of ash. He made a point to sweep that into a bottle to use later. Slowly he sat her up and gave her a gentle hug and a pat on teh back. "Eeeeasy, luv, easy. IT's over now. Stephanie, you should be free of that bugger with all good fortune to you and by next month you can go back to convince yourself that we made all this up and we won't even try to correct you. Not one of those things people like to remember. Shhhh get it all out." If he could walk away from this shit he would, but that providence was not to be had, only granted to others. "Now, Cass is going to bring us some fresh tea and we're going to see about getting the gravel and the glass out of your feet andtalk to Tulip about finding you some socks to eep the bandages clean. In the am we'll take you home and make sure there's nothing lingering there so you can return to your life and call us if anything, yeah? You're alright."

The woman sniffles once the ash is gone, and she does need a bit of a cry while Constantine comforts her. "Thank you," she says in a wavering voice. "Thank you so much. I just want to go back to school and get my degree so I can move back home." She sniffles. There, just a short cry and a little protest. "Mostly, I just want to be in control of myself. The sleepwalking was bad enough in the first place." She sighs, calming down. She might forget all about this, but at least in the meantime, she'll probably be all right. Looking up at John, her eyes pure and crystal blue now, she says, "How can I repay you?"

John was callous enough to ask out a woman who he just exorcized, however, he didn't for various reasons to his merit. He offered, "How about we start with not doing this again and wearing shoes if you're going to leave the house." He gave her a wink and a bit of a smile. "And call me back if you see anything funny. Though banana bread we don't turn down, but really, you owe me nothin, luv."

She says unsteadily, "I could try sleeping with shoes on." She smiles a little and says, "I can bake, though." And lo, it's true. John and co. will find banana bread left on their stoop in the not too distant. Now that the worst is over, she seems all right. Shaken, but that terror of the unknown has abated now that the unknown is ashes on the floor instead of gunk inside her. "I'll call you if something else happens."

John finished cleaning her feet and let her stay in one of the rooms upstairs. Tonight John would work and take the couch. Yeah yeah yeah, he was a bit of a sucher for a hard case. The ash went into a dar that he taped a note to reading: NOT TEA in case Cass got adventerous. Now? Now it was time to do some reading. Where did Aloys put that damn book on dreamcraft?

Stephanie falls asleep the moment her head hits the pillow, and she sleeps like a baby all night, even with her feet hurting. She hasn't been sleeping well lately, not in Greenwich Village in the middle of a dream vortex leading to another dimension occupied by a horrible monster. This neighborhood? This is safe. She's out like a light.

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