2019-08-20 - The House Is Missing


Constantine seeks out Jemma to call in a favour

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue Aug 20 04:07:08 2019
Location: Central Park

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It's a lovely day in Central Park and Jemma has managed to escape the confines of The Triskellian for a change. Hank had left not long ago and Pepper Potts had called with an offer that Jemma couldn't resist. Tea! Real Tea! Not the stuff the Americans call Tea.

But not at Stark Industries. Pepper might have correctly intuited the biochem needed a change of scene.

Which is why the brunette woman dressed in a long sleeve t-shirt and jeans is sitting at a bench in the park. Her cybernetic right arm is covered by the sleeve but the hand is still obviously metal. It's impossible to disguise her left eye implant and the implant on her right cheek - and the woman is clearly drawing some looks.

The Triskelion's a tough nut to crack. Even for someone like Constantine. Impenetrable? Close enough to it that it's not the sort of place John Constantine's going to wander into casually.

But there is one person he's keen to talk to, and after a little magically-assisted divinations (and some patience and luck), he was able to ghost in Jemma's wake as she headed from that imposing building to the public park. The Brit can blend when he needs to, and so he does, like any good private investigator; shoulder propped against rough tree bark, sitting just far enough behind it that he won't get made with a casual look. A loaded chili dog's in his hands in a plastic tray. Like a monster, he's eating it with a fork.

John doesn't make a move on Jemma's location, yet. She's obviously waiting for someone.

Pepper's invitation to Jemma was only mostly for the biochem's benefit. She kind of REALLY needed to get out herself. And this way, she can tell Tony she was working and get him to maybe complain a little less.


She arrives a few moments after Jemma, gingerly carrying a canvas grocery sack by its handles. "Dr. Simmons? Hi. I'm Pepper." She offers the already seated brunette a handshake. "Thank you so much for meeting me here."

Why on earth Constantine would want to see Jemma is difficult to know. The biochem does work with some WAND agents but she's staunchly in the camp of Magic is just Science we can't explain yet. Which is often the subject of much discussion and sometimes hilarity.

She hasn't detected the PI as he trails her and she doesn't have a security detail either. So he's safe as he watches and observes.

"Jemma, please, Miss Potts." The biochem offers her cybernetic hand to shake, pleased when she gets the grip just right "It's my pleasure. I haven't had time out for myself in a bit and you used the right code. Tea. How can I help you?"

John's eyes narrow at this new development. Pepper gets a (mostly) clinical once over. He's a keen eye for detail. Her clothing's quite professional. Stylish, too. The look, the hair, the stride— Pepper's definitely not just another face in the surging New York crowd.

She affords him a distraction and John takes advantage of it to slip behind two trees and around a small stand of bushes. A few quick bites finishes his meal and he tosses the paper plate and fork on the ground.

John props up between two trees and ends up more or less behind Jemma's position, standing carefully out of her peripheral vision, and finds something quite interesting across the park to observe while tilting a proverbial ear in her direction.

"Then I insist that you call me Pepper, Jemma." Also unaware that they're being watched, she very gingerly sets the sack down and settles on the far end of the bench, leaving as much space as possible between them. She then explains her reason for requesting a meeting while setting up a small but proper tea service on the bench from the contents of the sack.

"I know that SHIELD has been investigating the Reverbium that keeps popping up — I spoke with a couple of agents not too long ago about it. I was wondering if your research division had gleaned any new information from the alloy."

A proper white ceramic teapot gets a strainer filled with tea leaves and then she pours steaming-hot water from a thermos. Proper tea in T-minus four minutes.

"Pepper then." Jemma's fatigue seems to lift a little when she smiles, she's watching that bag carefully and the smile broadens when the tea service appears. "Now you're just spoiling me." She's tickled.

"We are, yes. There's a couple of things popping up. AIM seems to think this is a miracle drug … errr metal." Jemma sighs. "It's keeping me rather busy with the research and somehow I've been given a taskforce to oversee. Let me see. You know it's vibrationally unstable. Oh right. The part I'm working on is it's inclusion in a biological warfare. As a mutagen it's a wonderful bonding agent. Is there something specific you wanted to know? I'm sorry, there's a lot going on."

This is not the woman that Constantine knew in Devon. Yes, she's older but the implants have made her part cyborg.

Reverbium? John almost quirks his head to catch the word as it sails past. Not something he's heard of before. But it also sounds like government work. Clearly, it doesn't interest John.

But this conversation's more than just a casual meet and greet, and it's threatening to cut into John's own emergency at hand.

He starts approaching Jemma again. The cybnetics still unnerve him. They're so well integrated they're more uncanny valley than mere prosthetic.

But it doesn't show. In between words between the women, John steps in front of Jemma and faces her. Hands in pockets. He doesn't look at Pepper, just Jemma. The corner of his mouth curls into a knowing smirk at Jemma as recognition ticks along.

John takes a preparatory breath. Looks up. Back at Jemma. "Croydon. About … ten years ago. Broken down old graveyard. Ring a bell?" he prompts her.

"Oh, I haven't begun spoiling yet. I just can't tolerate /Lipton/." She says that brand name with a particular amount of relish and distaste as if she enjoys reviling the stuff, then reaches to pull the strainer from the teapot.

And that's when Constantine makes his appearance. Pepper turns to look at him, still holding the strainer over the teapot and letting it stop dripping, and then seems to make an internal decision. She sets the tea strainer on one slat of the bench and mentally notes to wash it thoroughly, then deftly fills the two cups waiting. Only two cups.

"Not Lipton. Oh, you're an evil evil woman." Jemma laughs, her mood lightening as they jest. "I have a special stash of tea in my laboratory. No one brings Lipton in there but the break room … I don't get my tea there." She admits.

The arrival of John has Jemma looking up, hand dropping to the ICER that she wears at her hip. "Oh. Mister Constantine. How could I forget. I wasn't expecting to see you in New York. And not after all this time." beat "Do you know Miss Potts? Miss Potts, Mister Constantine."

"Is this just happy occurence, Mister Constantine or …" Jemma notes the two cups and barely manages to hide her smirk, leaving the sentence to hang.

John looks over at Pepper. Another flickering glance, an up-and-down up close. His demeanour changes very slightly when he looks at Pepper's eyes, and the attitde shifts subtly from something swaggering and cocksure to flickering intruige.

And then it's gone and his focus is back on Jemma. "Wasn't expecting to see you 'ere either, love," he remarks, his lazy Liverpudlian drawl a sharp constrast to Jemma's culture tones. "Wish it was unner happier circumstances, but things is movin' fast."

He tilts his head, breaking from his train of thought. "What's this, eh?" he asks, dragging an index finger over his cheekbone to mirror Jemma's implants. "This one of those millennial fashion things or'd you get an organ donation from one of 'em terminator robots?"

Pepper nods a hello to Constantine with the poise of someone accustomed to hobnobbing with society's elite, then takes up her cup and blows over the hot beverage for a moment before taking a sip.

Of course, Constantine's comment about Jemma's implants — Pepper's more than enough of a closet nerd to know what they resemble — has her raising her eyebrows.

"Personal questions, Mr. Constantine?" She shakes her head slightly in disapproval.

"What things?" Jemma is to the point at least when it comes John Constantine. Her good eye narrowing as she picks the disparity in his statement. Not expecting to see her here.

She colours at the mention of the implants and casts Pepper a grateful look. "I went on a mission and I was assimilated. Resistance is futile, didn't you know?"

John blinks at Jemma. "Well I'd 'eard you came over here for a visitor's visa, but yeah, I guess you're assimilated if you're getting experimental Yankee plastic surgery," he ventures. The reference clearly goes over his head.

"Anyway. It's not a social call," he says, and his bantering tone goes quite serious. "I'm in a pinch and I need your help. Tell your friend 'ere to shove off," he says, uplifting a chin Pepper's direction without looking at her. "'s private business."

Pepper doesn't so much as shift in her spot when Constantine tries to get her to leave. "I have my entire lunch break to sit here and catch up, Jemma. How much time do you have?" She sips at her tea, her eyes flicking toward the rather rude man. Her expression doesn't change at all, but the glance implies a LOT.

Your move, Pom.

"Working Visa and I'm not likely to leave the US anytime soon. At least not permanently. I haven't naturalised though, so there's that. Let's just say that this experimental Yankee plastic surgery saved my life, shall we?" Taking a sip from her cup she good brow rises at Johns next comment.

"You, sir, are interrupting my meeting. If you need my help, you may ask for it, but Miss Potts stays." There's a look to Pepper as expected, Jemma's certain that rudeness won't go well.

"Now, what sort of help do you need?"

"Keep staring at me like that, luv, and I'll ask you buy me dinner," Constantine quips at Pepper with a dry tone. His focus pivots back to Jemma, and his expression turns deadly serious.

"I know you're in with SHIELD here, locally. And I need some help." His hands rest in his pockets. "You know anything about the artifact called the 'House of Mystery'?" he inquires of her.

Jemma colours more as Constantine speaks. The man is as abrasive as she remembers.

"It's no secret I'm with SHIELD, I've been on the news enough." That's true, there's been footage of Jemma when SHIELD has been called to incidents.

"A House as an artifact. Well, I suppose it might be. But I can't say I know anything about it. What sort of help do you need?" If this is magic related, Constantine might well need WAND. Not SHIELD.

Pepper focuses her attention back on her tea, this man clearly lacking a basic understanding of manners and WAITING. She can take the high road herself and wait for him to shove off so that she can continue her conversation with Jemma.

The teapot is plenty big enough for that. But there are still only TWO cups.

"I need to find it," John tells Jemma. "And I need you to use your contacts in SHIELD and WAND to help me."

He exhales, looking over both shoulders, and focuses on Jemma again. "Look, dig around your archives. The House is ancient. And up until recently, it was safe. But it's been nicked. It's something that shouldn't *be* stealable, but it's gone. The damage it could do in the wrong hands… well, there's no magic the Yanks have got that could stop someone from turning it into a terrible weapon."

"So I need your help in findin' it. Off the books," he clarifies.

"You want me to use my contacts to help you find a house? Well of course a house shouldn't be stealable. Did someone squat in it?" Jemma sighs. "I will of course. But why don't you tell me a bit about it? I can get some research done but that's not going to tell me much."

"When was the last time you saw it?" Of course she'll help. Sort of. "I'll have to get one of the WAND agents to assist you."

"'Cor she's not plugged in," Constantine complains to some invisible companion. Fingers rest on his forehead, absently rubbing his brow. "Listen, it's called 'The House of Mystery' because it's a mystery, not because it's a bloody flat in the middle of Chelsea."

"The House is a repository of dangerous magical artefacts. It's a … a dimension. A demesne of reality," he clarifies. "Someone stole the portal that accesses it. If they crack her open, it'll be Armageddon. You can see why I don't want a bunch of Yanks to know about it."

Jemma's actually wireless not that she says that to Constantine. "I have no idea what type of House it is hence me asking." She listens though, sighing again and rubbing her forehead. She doesn't have time for this. "So you're really looking for the portal and not the House."

"I have just the person for you to talk to. Agent Sarah Black, a fellow Brit and an expert on Portal use." Not Portal, the game either.

"How do we get in touch with you?"

"The portal /is/ the House. The House is the portal." John presses pinched fingers to his brow and takes a steadying breath.

/"It's … look," he says, and gestures vaguely. "I just need to know who the movers and shakers are in this area. I've already talked to Stephen Strange, and he was entirely decorative. So now I'm reaching out to the intelligence industry. I've badgered a few friends in MI5. Need you to make some /discreet/ inquiries. I'll talk to this Agent Black lass if she's in the know, but … as I said. It's a walking time bomb that needs to be sealed away. Letting the Yanks get it would be bad."

"Magic…" Jemma nearly huffs, rubbing her forehead again. "Stephen Strange… the Sorcerer Supreme? If he can't help, what makes you think that we can?" The biochemist looks to Pepper and the pot of tea they're sharing. She intends to enjoy this.

"I'll get Agent Black in contact with you and we'll see what we can find. I'm really not the one you want doing this but I owe you." And Jemma will repay that debt.

"I'll be in touch as soon as I've spoken to the other Agent. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to finish my meeting with Miss Potts."

With that, Jemma turns her attention to Pepper - almost dismissing Constantine. This … is just something else to add to her list.

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