1964-10-30 - So Much For the Walk-in Closet
Summary: When John discovers a spatial anomoly in Aloys' old apartment that looks like it went off radar he calls in an expert for his opinion.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
strange constantine 

There was a call. An actual legitimate phone call like some facsimile of a decent human being. Mondays are weird, what can one say? Still the call was not urgent and he gave oddly specific directions to the location as it was warded from being found. Helpful except when it was not helpful.

When the door was opened it was by John, not Cass, in a state of being mostly dressed as he was planning on company and so wasn't practicing any Hiva summoning rituals being put back together from string code. There'd be time later.

Needless to say, the sheer amount of normalcy of a phone call was mildly shocking to the Sorcerer Supreme, so he makes up for it by simply Gating to the front door. The illusory wardings are clever things, he admits to himself, scanning the place over with eyes faintly lit by the Sight. Just a brick building, nothing else to see here — the weavings contained a strong note in boredom-generation. In black Belstaff and crimson scarf overtop the usual dress shirt and slacks, he'd look rather sharp but for the shadows beneath his eyes. Knock-knock-knockknockknock — two bits.

"John." Strange says the Name with no mantle-borne inflection, just a tired acceptance. "Tell me you have tea."

Constantine waved Stephen in and looked, for a moment, entirely bewildered. "An Englishman and an Irishman live under one roof… and your question is Do we have tea?" He blinked and closed the door unceremoniously behind him and carried on casual, "Question should be you want whiskey or scotch in it. How's your morning treating you?" The room was… well it was any Wizard's workroom with an assortment of curiosities and somethings of questionable origin. His feet carried him up the stairs leaving Strange to have a seat should he wish or wander. Footsteps carried John back down from the living space back and above. "I have coffee too though if you'd rather. Kettle'll be a moment." Could in theory John magic his way around everything? Yes. Did he? Generally not as most of his mediums were volatile and he had mercy on the world to keep it as a tool and not a lifestyle.

"I have met exceptions to the rule," Strange replies with a minute shudder that may or may not be feigned. It's been a travesty a few times to sit politely in the home of such folk who trend in appreciating such herbal brews and be subjected to the lack of aforementioned brews.

He enters the dwelling and scans the room with a nonchalance betrayed by the sharp twinkle in his sliding observations. "No coffee, just tea, please. Whiskey…" A sigh. "Tempting, but again, no but thank you. Cream and honey. The darkest blend you have. We can exchange tales of toil over another cup."

As Constantine disappeared up the steps, leaving his guest to wander, it's precisely what the Sorcerer does. With hands in his pockets, like any good admirer of the myriad glass jars containing gods only know what, he leans in and squints, attempting to decipher the contents. A little wrinkle of his nose betrays the inherent mild dark curiosity. He got over organs in formaldehyde back in medical school. Magical collections just tend to be more…esoteric in the end than simple fingers or kidneys. He notes the mirror at a glance before settling down in one of the wing-back chairs with a grunt. "I wonder what he's got to report this time…" It's a sotto-voce comment to himself.

Constantine feet brought him back down stairs with a wood baseball bat with 'Louisville Slugger' wood burned into one side and the names of the Elohim on the other. Did he stop at the chairs though? No. He gestured to the back where that quite officially God damned door was. It said right there in the runes around the frame: Condemned by God - 1952. One by one John worked the locks and said "Stephen, I'll level with you. I didn't know what to think of you at first but all in all you seem an alright sort." John squint and said in an earnest spologetic tone, "Makes it a shame I have to be the one to ruin your mornin', mate. Let's have us a look."

A dark eyebrow lifts at the appearance of Constantine wielding that heavy-duty bat and he remains in the wing-backed chair for as long as feasibly possible, even as his eyes slowly shutter to a somnolent and vaguely predatory regard upon the other practitioner.

With a sniff, Strange suddenly gets to his feet and replies mildly as he saunters over, "There is very little you can do to make my morning any worse, John, but I thank you beforehand for attempting it. My opinion of you has not been swayed, if we're being honest, but it hasn't swung for the worse." A beat. "Don't strike out."

Constantine boggled at the Sorcerer SUpreme and said flatly, "The bat isn't for you." He knows that look, and felt it prudent to establish where the lines were here and that it was not between them. Not to his knowedge anyways. He'd give Stephen time to know him personally before the other man drew the inevitable line. Good. Fatalism aside before he thre the last deadbolt he *tap tap tapped* on the door wihtthe bat. There was a draft from under the gap that was suddenly, and sharply very cold. Then it was gone. John arched an eyebrow and opened the door and there was a single electric lightbulb gangling above. the cotton string was pulled and it flickered to life on the third try. It looked like a closet. The bar to hang coats on was still there only it went back too far into darkness. Suffice to say this was not on teh building blueprints submitted to the zoning committee for housing development. For shame, Reikland!

Craning his head to look beyond the bar and into the darkness, Strange's expression became no more pleasant than in the past few minutes. More annoyed, perhaps.

"You'd think they'd try for a more pleasant ambience. It's always dark tunnels and eerie cold wind. What if they attempted candelabras? It would at least give an air of sophistication rather than 'mole people'." He glances to John. "Allow me." The werelight summoned up above the Sorcerer's scarred palm is a twinkling collection of stars in miniature, throwing off a cheery if not somewhat night-vision-wrecking wavelength in pale ultraviolet. "I'll walk behind as not to ruin your vision — unless you'd rather have me go first, as sacrificial lamb, and possibly have my morning ruined after all."

Constantine arched an eyebrow considering this notion. "Oh, well if we run into anyone you're welcome to suggest it." He wasn't going to argue. He was going to step aside while the twinkle lights floated down the hall, and paused a moment in the flare of flourescent afterglow, get a really good look at Strange's hands. Very curious. As an after thought he reached over and shook his Zippo. Good enough. The offer was met witha wink and John offered up, "I'm going to get a wall sample to a scientist Lindon introduced me too. I'm curious about this. But when I moved in it was a doat closet. Three days ago? goes back what? 30 meters? Now? It has doors inside the hallway, an L-bend, and most importantly? No coat." Really the coat was the sticking point here.

"I'll have other Words than decorative suggestions if we do run into another being, I think," the Sorcerer Supreme murmurs with a wry ghost of a smirk. With a lazy flick of his wrist, long fingers equally mapped by red lines gesture the werelight farther down the tunnel. It travels a fair bit of its own accord and stops about fifteen meters down, hovering and shedding miniscule drops of mica to the tunnel floor; the wee flecks disappear upon contact with ground.

"By all means, take your sample. I was half-joking about the mole people, but if it's expanding without your knowledge, something's in play here. No intruders that you're aware of?" Strange looks back over his shoulder as he asks this question, even as he's walking at a deliberate pace towards his tossed beacon.

Constantine was of too scientific a mind to be surprised or defensive about the question and murmured, "None so far. What the question we should be asking is how long has it been doing this. The locks and sign were here when I got it and this place stood, theoretically empty for three-some-odd years." Well since Aloys was dispatched by forces to be sure. Brown eyes squint as they made their way down it, John apparently having explored it a bit before. "Careful. THere is a presence to somethings we don't like to discuss bback there. As far as I can tell nothing's come up, or not past the threshold though the argument could be made either way. I want to look into why Aloys had it and you already asnwered my second question."

"Second question?" Sounds like Strange is fairly distracted given that tone. It can't helped; whatever it is that John spoke of just pinged on his Mystical radar — and it isn't that far down and around that distant corner. Damn lines of mundane sight. "Yes…whatever it is doesn't wish us to be present," he continues in a lower voice, gone nearly growly for it.

Scarred hands rise before his chest in long-practiced mudras of defense and gain a flickering corona of violet light a few hues darker than the werelight that continues to dance at the immediate right-angled corner of the hallway. Squinting, the Sorcerer attempts to pin down precisely what impressions he's getting from the presence.

Constantine offered casually, as if really looking at a lot of work that is there to rob him of sleep and free time. Offended, that was a good word for it. "Second question? Were you aware he did this." Clearly it was not reported. The zone itself was not actually entirely adjacent with reality space.

Somewhere behind the door at the end of the L? Well that was a large bag of nope. The abyss itself was welcome to stay on that end of the door. The door itself looked like a standard, unexciting white painted door that was in need of a damp cloth, but was more or less entirely innocuous. Tat the space seemed almost 'living'. It was contrived to the needs of where it would reach, perhaps attuned to some constellation cycle? Perhaps not. It might not be the first instance but what would be immediately apparent to Stephen Strange master of space and forces, and not John Constantine (damn dirty necromancer and panderer of demons), is that generally creating a gate between two places connects a to B. this was creating A… and leaving it relatively unconnected to bang into different things. Perhaps in need of being given a destination. An arterial passage in primordial space.

Well. Let's hope it doesn't collapse while anyone's standing in it. So long as they were present and aware of the space it remained solid, stable and alert. The likelihood of it changing continuously over time that the apartment stood empty was almost a certainty. Belief fortifies reality; Wizarding 101.

"No, I was not aware that someone had tampered with reality itself and attempted a funnel to…" Strange falls silent for the need to concentrate. Indeed, the prickling of the knowledge that they are literally defining the space itself from moment to moment is not too unlike a icicle's point drawn down his spine, leaving goosebumps in its wake.

"Gnnfff." It's a sound of growing irritation, the favored reaction having foregone another cup of tea. "It's a loose thread — open-ended, like an unfinished sentence. Reality itself keeps attempting to finish it and…" He shakes his head. "This won't do. At all."

Constantine squint and looked around the space. Lips pursed together thoughtfully and while Strange was focused and irritated John addressed his own annoyance with decision, "So help me if Aloys posthumously sacrifices me a second time?" An eyebrow arched and he nodded to Strange, "I'm dredging his soul up from whatever dark place it's marinating in and I'm so haunting his ass." The disturbing part of that is that of all the people to say that he might be the one capable of actually doing it. "I'm not certain there's much more to see inside of here."


Shrill like a banshee it was- oh! Kettle's done. Well then.

The sounds of the kettle suddenly going off gives John a first-hand look into an aborted reaction by the Sorcerer Supreme. The Words are stopped shy of impression upon reality by a garbled grunt, as if he's mouthing marbles, and despite it all, his aura still frizzles live-wire bright and the scent of ozone perfumes the air so strongly it can be tasted. The next metal object touched, or perhaps another living being, is going to be zapped like the after-effects of scuffing wools socks on carpet in the winter. Whoops.

A slow sigh, like a cornered cobra, and Strange looks over at John. "I'm going to sew up that rift for good, John. Arguing with me will get you nowhere. I won't have any weaknesses the veils of my Realm. Back to the entrance, please," and he jerks his head in that direction even as the mildly-stifled air of the odd hallway begins to gain a cyclonic effect about him, lifting the scarf and his bangs.

Constantine watched. He looked around at the walls. At the very least? Well it would be stable. That was a start. It was to Strange though his eyes fell in a squint. Did be back up? Yes. He did but in the same breath Strange found something else; a rope being tied around his waist a moment later. The heavy thud of boot propping that door was heard. Wisely there was now a lariat run from strange, into the room and around a steel support beam and back to john at teh door. The Sorcerer Supreme could be fancy about this all he wanted, but John was up on taking a practical approach to seeing the man didn't get pulled in with what ever it was. Science says: when one creates a vacuum nature tries to fill it. He was not the one to explain to Lamont that he got his mentor consumed by forces for a while because he couldn't be arsed to do more than idly watch. Idle and John Constantine were never friends. Usually this was a problem, today it was a precaution.

At first, the Sorcerer makes to complain. Seriously, a rope?! He isn't some green apprentice, making half-assed gestures and praying he pronounced something correctly. …but then again, it wouldn't be Lamont who would probably make sure John paid for every second of his decision to not aid in the efforts to shut off that innocent-seeming white door and what depths of various renditions on hell lay behind it. It'd be the Witch — and Strange doesn't wish that on anyone undeserving of it in the end.

Thus, he shuts his teeth with an audible click and once he gives a testing tug on the rope for sturdiness of anchoring back with John. It seems like he's not going anywhere… The length of his scarf abruptly unwinds from about his neck and unfurls tens of times over into the bright Cloak. A shame that it doesn't precisely fit into fashionable line with the Belstaff, but one must make do when one's closing interdimensional rifts to gods-only-know-where.

"If you see the Cloak beginning to tug me back, tug as well, John!" The raised voice should carry well enough. Now comes the hard work.

Straightening his shoulders and setting his stance, Strange closes his eyes. The ambient wisping of power about his hands grows brighter still and the werelight rushes back to be absorbed once more. Circles upon circles, he inscribes, the result a rapidly-expanding geometric seal drawn in thin radiance of back-lit merlot. The rings counter-rotate and within the tunnel, the air pressure rapidly drops, making it harder to breathe. Hopefully John's out of immediate range of the dropping lack of oxygen before it makes Strange grit his teeth and breathe faster still. The wildness of the unaffixed passage into primordial space doesn't want to be closed off; its inherent nature is to find a mooring somewhere and it's not picky in the end.

The white door rattles ominously, lynchpins keeping it bolted to the walls beginning to dance loose. The crimson Cloak, sensing what might be a retreat balancing on a razor's edge, begins to lean back towards Constantine, bending Strange's form not too unlike a cattail in the breeze. "Almost…done!!!" The movements of his arms slow, as if he's fighting against a thickening of the atmosphere around him to nearly aqueous effect, and then…the doubled-over, echoing snap of fingers sets the seal in place.

The immediate result: a resounding ROAR of displeasure from — you guessed it — a vacuum suddenly appearing. A gluck of sound and the Cloak attempts to drag its master away from the sudden suction even as he's turning about with a white-knuckled grip on the rope.

"PULL, JOHN, PULL!!!" It's so loud that all that can be read are lips, pinched and white in a face gone blotched at the cheeks and mildly glassy-eyed with Mystical power.

Strange was wrong about one thing: It wouldn't be Lamont beating him or the Witch, it'd be John himself first. Also the Witch, for certain, and all the living that would actually mourn the strange and unspoken disappearance of one Stephen Strange, M.D., Ph.D., S.S., and possibly Esq. We wouldn't put it past him. Was Strange green at this? No, but John Constantine wasn't stupid either and if there was a talent he had from working with dirty hands? well, it was the presence of practical, pragmatic, and often overlooked minutiae. herein represented by the John Constantine School of Magic: If something can go wrong expect it to in a catastrophic way.

Nihilistic, but when when everyone you have ever cared about was dead, and usually because of you or something you did? Well…

…we'll say learning occurs.

The rope strained from the great pull of forces at both ends biting into the flesh of John's forearm where it was wrapped twice around. He fought slowly wrapping it elbow to hand, and elbow, and back again. Above upstairs the kettle was wailing in concert with the forces battling collapse of space and mass. On the upshot to all of this it was actually working.

Length by length, measured by John's elbow to wrist, the Sorcerer Supreme is dragged along the passage. It's hard to find purchase on the floor in dress shoes, but damned if he doesn't try, visibly flashing teeth in a defiant snarl as he too attempts to crawl back up the rope. The Cloak also fights the draw backwards and about that L bend and…oh gods below, it looks like there's an actual collapse of reality eating its way up the tunnel towards Strange, like some snake swallowing its own tail!

At a whim, the relic shifts rapidly back into a scarf — much less silky fabric to accidentally catch air, even if done with majestic flare of internal patterning — and it too begins a…tassle-fringe over tassle-fringer? — pulling up the rope.

Almost…there!!!! Behind the Sorcerer, the walls of the passageway visually shred into swirling darkness and there's an otherwordly howl of dismay, as if something was so close and yet will end up so far from placing a gnarled digit within this world. Double-time, Strange hand-over-hands the rope until he can strain to wrap one-two-three-four white-knuckled fingers around the lintel of the original closet door.

Constantine was fireproof but not against rope burn. By the devil's chaffing loopholes! Any other day he'd start throwing a banishment down behind Strange's collapse of space, though in this case as there was the literal embodiment of 'nothing' trying to consume the space a banishment might only serve to feed the void and tear it wider. Sometimes intelligence was measured in what one refrains from doing.

Boot to the wall, John was lean but he was a brawler all the same. When Stephen was finally close enough John turned letting the rope wrap around his back for extra heft. Free hand reached out and grabbed the front of Strange's coat and pulled him into the room and taking him to ground to reduce the drag on him and kicked the damn door shut. Sadly it was not fast enough that a few things from the room didn't get pulled into the null…he hoped they weren't terribly important.

The room fell suddenly quiet and were it not for the tea kettle there may be a fear of having been struck deaf.

The sudden oppressive 'normalcy' left a tremor in John's limbs. then? Then he finally let out a breath, forehead resting to floor for a moment. Elbow lashed with rope to the floor helped push him back up to his knees. Dark eyes squint to their Sorcerer Supreme laying strewn to the floor he asked with near comedic casualness, "Lapsang suchong or Russian Caravan? I just remembered we have a bit left."

With all the strength left in his upper torso and biceps, Strange aids in the wrenching grip on his coat-front by pulling himself like a horizontal chin-up on that door lintel. What air is left in his lungs escapes him as he's momentarily flattened, but all for the better. Once that door slams shut, the ringing of the kettle is simultaneously a perfect point of conversational regularity and annoying as the seven hells for it.

Gasping deeply for air, the Sorcerer coughs as he rolls onto his back, already grappling with the rope tied about his waist even as John asks after which blend he's hoping to steep.

"Russian. I need the bite," he replies before coughing once again. "…and a shot of whiskey." A quiet rill of laughter escapes him even as he sighs loudly and lets his skull drop to the carpeted floor. "You're going to turn me into a day-drinker, John." He'll be fine fiddling with the knots of the rope if his host wants to let him lie in a surprisingly-ordered sprawl of long limbs, mussed hair, and crimson scarf that patpats its master on the cheek a few times for good measure.

Constantine really wanted that moment to recoup but that damnable teapot was not going to shut up on its own. Normalcy: the jarring reprieve. Strange's laugh drove up a snicker from the Brit who turned an exhausted half grin on him with a squint, "Eh, it gets the day by. Explains some of the things we wish weren't true. You'll like it. We'll teach ya." John punctuated the notion with a wink and shoved his body out of lethargy. Fingers knotted into a fist getting blood back into strangled limb before tired shoes carried him up the stairs.

the horrible screeching stopped.

It was a few minutes later there was a tea service brought back down. Tray was set down on the workbench with the bottle of Jameson. There were teacups and shot glasses. It just became that kind of day. "Know what really frosts my nuggets, strange?" He glanced up with an even look and serious expression. "We dropped the property value by removing the walk-in." How he says these things with a straight face is anyone's guess.

Another flat laugh follows behind Constantine's departure, which left Strange to figure out the stress-tightened knotting. It's going well, until he realizes with silent chagrin that those trembling fingers just aren't going to cut it for this last snarl of hemp. Rolling up upwards and towards the door, the Sorcerer absolutely cheats as he whispers a little spell that grants the rope unnatural stretch. Slip, around there, pull this loop, and Bob's yer uncle — he's free of the rope.

With a grunt and a wince, since the rope did some digging-in about his waist, he sits up. There will be sore arms and shoulders tomorrow without a cup of tea and a minor healing spell, if he can manage it, but hey, everyone's alive. He's back in that wing-backed chair again by the time tea service arrives and even as he's gathring up his demi-tasse, he hears John's comment and snorts. Black tea nearly sloshes beyond the rim of the cup.

"And we never even installed the candelabras. Wanda would be displeased, I'm sure." His mobile lips curl into a sharp smirk to accent the dry humor. An entire shot goes into his steepings. It's one of those days for sure.

Constantine actually relaxed a half grin shaking his head. He took a shot before pouring one into his lapsang. Curiosity bit him. He had to ask, "How's it you know the bird?" In regards to Wanda in the Red Coat. At least he didn't call her a fish. John did a double take at the closet door padlocking it. After a pause put the other four locks on there juuuuust in case. There. It might not be necessary for security but they would be imperative if he ever wanted to sleep there again.

Locks are always your friends when it comes to the Mystic Arts, whether they be mundane iron, spoken wardings, or inscriptions in blood. What goes locked away must generally stay locked away. A wise move on the part of the Guttermage.

Strange watches the door's status get re-established as DO NOT OPEN EVER once again as he sips at his tea. Mmm, whiskey. Feel the burn, all the way down, and he relaxes back into the chair as he licks at his upper lip. Now that there's no more antimatter-vacuum-collapsing reality nipping at his shoes, he looks rather content to be reclining, like a leopard having had its fill of darting about the undergrowth and finding a sunlit limb to sprawl upon.

"She's my Consort," he replies silkily, that smile back with a charming and subtle pride, and he salutes John almost mockingly. Cheers to learning new things.

Aaaand lock number five: *CLACK*

John paused trying to get a thermal gauge of the door. His reaction was an amused chortle and non-swuirtor retort, "Well Lamont's a right prat isn't he? I think that fucker just loves to watch the world burn." This was not said without a hint of admiration or a loss of embittered affection the two had. He only elaborated with a shrug, "He might've mentioned it to us. Good woman you got there, Strange. Solid skills. DO us all a favour and don't mess that one up." Well for what that was worth, Stephen has John's approval on it in that casual and grizzled manner of his. "On a night not tonight, I made you a stack of updates. Not sure how you run things here. I'm used to London Sanctum where being able to queue is its own mystic art. Didn't want you to not be aware. Most don't really require intervention but knowledge is knowledge."

Uh-oh, whose wicked prank streak is rubbing off on whom? Such information should have been imparted. There are few things more nerve-wracking than stepping on the Witch's toes, even accidentally, since echoes can be felt across the soulbond to the Sorcerer Supreme.

Strange's smile deepens ever so slightly. "I'll take the stack of updates, if you're meaning a physical pile of paperwork. I have extra hands in case they all need to be addressed promptly." Read: Lamont might just receive his first 'gopher' assignment. Much woe. "And I have no inclination to do such to her, John." A bit of a warning note thins his lips to boot. "The world would do worse than burn." He sips at his tea, glowering properly at some point across the room, but it's a passing set of shadows across his face in the end. "No…she is needed in her way as I am in mine."

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