2019-10-14 - Tsrif Gniteem


Jimmy visits The Bar With No Doors for the first time, and encounters Zatanna.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Mon Oct 14 09:24:29 2019
Location: The Bar With No Doors

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Jimmy has heard of the Bar With No Doors; he knows it's a hangout for the supernatural. But he's always brushed off his potential involvement. He's not a spellcaster, he won't fit in; or there was that period he spent trying to keep his nature secret. But tonight, he's decided to make a change.

He arrives at one of the entrances made for those who can't just teleport in like others: something that looks like an ordinary phone booth, disconnected from the grid and waiting for someone to tear it down. He lifts the hand-set, keys in the very specific number combination he'd been told of, and steps forwards. By logic, he should just bump into the phone…

…and instead, he walks clean through the phone and the wall beyond. He takes several steps in darkness, and comes out into the lounge. He takes a few breaths, quelling his underlying nervousness as he looks around.

Zatanna has been in the bar for a little while, through a more prosaic means of entry that the owners are sourly unamused by: she cast 'rood' on the wall, and that was that. She's in her work clothes nowtop hat, tuxedo top, bikini bottom, fishnets, knee-high bootsas she sits on a stool at the bar, left leg lifted up to let the arch rest on the edge of the stool next to her as she tugs lightly at one of her boots and explains to one of the other patrons, "But what I really like about them is the custom fit. One little zipper up the back, a little padding in the soles, and they're like a second skin." Her drinking companion, a prematurely white-haired woman with no visible irises or pupils and kind of a noir detective look going on, nods along faintly, cheeks colored.

When Jimmy walks in, Zatanna looks up from her footwear modeling session and offers a smiling nod. Her companion follows the gaze, finishes her drink, mutters something to Zatanna, pulls out a red book with a roaming violet eye on the cover, and reads from it before vanishing.

Well that wasn't what Jimmy'd expected to see. He walks in just in time to see Zatanna stretching her leg out over a neighbouring stool. Yes, it tugs his gaze for a split-second — Zatanna's dress sense is nothing if not eye-catching — before he yanks his eyes back upwards. Oh hey, would you look at that. Seven pillars. Is that a motif?

Yet, peripheral vision is still enough for him to notice that Zatanna's looking at him. So he smiles back at her, a touch of awkwardness behind the expression while he lifts a hand. "Hi," he says. And that momentary distraction gives Zatanna's drinking partner a chance to 'escape'. And well, it is right up at the bar, so… "Is this seat taken?" he asks.

Zatanna quirks a little grin. "Looks to me like you're taking it," she observes equably, and slowly retracts her leg. It might be a show, or it might be that it's just plain difficult to pull your leg down from that height with any kind of dignity if you do it fast. "You new around here? Haven't seen you before."

Jimmy's prepared this time. When Zatanna disengages her leg, his attention stays on her face. With the invitation, he settles down beside her. He scans the menu, thinking of just what to get, but he's in no hurry to decide about drinks. "New to the bar, yeah. Haven't been before; wasn't sure I'd really fit in, you know?" He brings a hand to his chest, offering a half-bow rather than extending a hand. "Jimmy. Jimmy Baxter. What can I call you?" At least he knows not to ask for a name from someone in the magical community.

Zatanna isn't fussed about not being offered an opportunity to shake. In magicland, you never know what kind of resonances are clinging to someone's hand, waiting to be transfered to a recipient's aura. She just doffs her tophat with a cheeky grin and greets, "Zatanna Zatara. Nice to meet you, Jimmy. And don't worry about fitting in. No one here does, so we don't make a thing about it."

Jimmy dips his head to her. "A pleasure to meet you, Zatanna." He takes his cue from how she uses his first name, guessing that she's not one to insist on a 'Ms.' He smiles. "That's encouraging, thank you. And makes sense. The whole point is that we're… unusual, from others' perspectives. It's just that the first time I'd heard about this place, they'd said it was 'magicians only', and I'm not exactly a magician."

Zatanna raises an amused eyebrow. When it lifts, what at first appear to be fine, black hairs seem to be tiny strands of night sky in the shape of hair, filled with distant pinpricks of light, like looking up at the sky through a mesh of grass, maybe. She asks, "Yeah? If you're not a sorcerer, then it's a neat trick you got in here."

Zatanna flickers a quick, assessing gaze up and down Jimmy and guesses facetiously, "Mutant with teleportation powers and a hologram belt that hides your real appearance?"

Jimmy blinks at the quality of Zatanna's eyebrow, his attention turning closer towards it as he leans in, to get a better look at that night sky. "Ah, there are some entrances where you just need enough 'magic potential' to use the built-in triggers. Even spellcasters can't all teleport or wallwalk." He laughs at the question, shaking his head. "Are you sure you want to know?" There's a hint of tension and nervousness there; he's always a bit awkward about 'revealing himself', though he still is more than willing.

…as in, show what he is. He's not offering to flash anyone. Well, not in any but a literal sense.

Well that's an interesting exchange. He's given an invitation to explain, doesn't accept it, and asks for permission again to explain? Zatanna's been in the business long enough to have a few educated guesses about what that suggests, particularly when paired with his 'I'm any and every yuppie you've ever met' fashion sense that's clearly trying to hide something; but you don't get to be Mistress of the Mystic Arts by operating on guesses. "Sure, tell me about it," she offers, relaxed despite her awareness of the weight of her wand hidden on her person (never you mind where specifically).

It was more that Jimmy wanted to clarify how he did get in, in spite of having no talents which would directly let him in there. All part of the explanation, before it hooked back around to him. He takes a deep breath, preparing himself. "It's more of a 'show' rather than tell."

With that, he changes. Light glows from his skin, his face shining like distant lightning while his eyes are more like searchlights. Behind him, four wings lift, made of ethereal white fire. In this form, there's a sense of greater solidity to him, and power comes off him just like the light.

He holds it for several seconds, letting Zatanna — and the other bar patrons — get a good look, before he raises his human guise again.

Zatanna observes this display with detached interest. "An anakim or something like it?" she guesses. It would explain the eagerness to reveal what could have been hidden or just told; an angel would probably feel very conflicted about deception even by omission. Then again, it could just be wanting to come out of the metaphysical closet. "Either way, you might be careful about that. Just because no one will pick a fight in here doesn't mean no one will use what you just showed them if you ever do get into a fight."

Jimmy lets out a breath, more relaxed now that it's out in the open, and even more now that he has the 'mask' back on. "Thanks for the warning. Though I'd hope we can avoid fighting just in general." He finally decides on a drink order, and asks the bartender for some fizzed mango juice. Which probably isn't carbonated, but just… fizzed. "Part-angel, yes. And, how about you? You have the look of a proper magician." Well, somewhat proper. His neck strains with the effort of keeping himself from actually looking at what she's wearing.

"I'm a magician," Zatanna agrees. "Also a sorcerer." She notes the fixed, unnatural focus of Jimmy's gaze and mostly manages not to smirk. Anakim always had that weakness, didn't they? "What do you do, Jimmy?" she asks, enunciating his name a little more sharply than the rest of her speech just to see how he reacts.

There's no especial 'calling my true name' jolt. Perhaps because either the name or the angel heritage are only partial; perhaps it's not his birth name at all. Even if she doesn't actually smirk, he can see the hints of it, can feel the suggestion of it in her mood. "I'm a therapist in training," he says. "Still interning towards getting my full license. And studying medicine on the side." His drink arrives, and he smiles his thanks for the bartender.

"Yeah? And do the arcane mysteries affect your ability to pursue the rational sciences for your degree and your license, when you know your teachers aren't teaching you everything and the government isn't allowing all the best treatments?" Zatanna asks.

Jimmy's eyebrows lift; he hadn't expected such an indictment of the boundary between mundane and magical treatments. He shakes his head. "I wouldn't be able to use those 'arcane mysteries' myself anyway. I have no magical ability." He knows that as fact. "My talents, my empathy… I can still bring all those talents to bear in my work. They don't need to know that it's anything more than being very good at body language or tones of voice."

Zatanna chuckles. "You and the Bene Gesserit," she agrees, and lifts her glass (water, but water that has never seen sunlight) in something like a toast before sipping lightly. Mustn't muss the lipstick.

Jimmy laughs, shaking his head. "I know the name, though I haven't actually read Dune. It seems rather… intimidating. Such a big series." He toasts her with his own drink, sipping the fizzed juice. He chews his tongue. "What you'd said about the divide between arcane and rational science… it sounded like there's something personal there?" He turns to look out across the room as a whole. Huh. Twenty-one tables, there's that seven again.

"You're not missing much," is Zatanna's literary opinion. "It's pretty badly written. I don't know how the books got so popular. But no, there's nothing personal, exactly. I'm just always interested in how people balance irrational private lives with rational public ones."

"Everything's a little bit irrational," Jimmy says. "Especially when people get involved. People aren't simple and deterministic, like dropping a coin and calculating how long it takes to fall. Every thinking, feeling being is different. Psychology gives you patterns and statistics, but it still always comes down to the individual." He considers her again as he turns back. "And the… outfit. May I ask, or…?" What exactly is he asking? It seems he's more blushing and fading out rather than asking something direct.

Zatanna does not laugh, but it's a neat thing. She leans against the bar and props a white-gloved fist under her chin. "Sure, you can ask," she invites through a coy grin.

She may not laugh aloud, but Jimmy can still feel the amusement. Can still feel the spirit of the laughter, waiting to bubble free. That's enough to make him blush, even aside from the coy grin, the tease which requires him to actually ask a proper question. "Th-The way you're dressed. Is it something to do with your magic? I-I know some kinds of spellcraft can be really stringent with requirements. Or is it, ah, something else?"

Zatanna runs her hands through her hair, making it billow our behind her (without disrupting her hat, which is a neat if subtle trick), spilling twinkles of starlight around her neck and shoulders. She crosses her legs pertly and asks, "Why, do I look magical?"

That more dramatic, pert pose — yes, it draws Jimmy's attention, finally breaking his gaze below face level. It's just a sweeping gaze, though, before he's back up top again. "You look… I'm not sure how I'd put it. But it's definitely something. You know what I mean, though." Just please don't ask him to elaborate.

Zatanna leans against the bar again, tracing the rim of her drinking glass with one fingertip without looking, smiling at Jimmy. "Maybe I do and maybe I don't. Don't leave me hanging."

Jimmy makes a noise somewhere between 'nervous puppy' and 'trash compactor', while his cheeks radiate heat. He gives the magician a glare, which looks more 'sulky' than anything else. "You're not wearing any pants, Zatanna."

Zatanna looks down at her legs in feigned surprise, and drifts her fingertips down the top of her top thigh and up the side of her bottom one as if she can feel the stockings through her gloves. "I think you're right!" she declares in a tone of wonderment.

La la la, Jimmy's not looking, no, he's counting the pillars again. Yes, there are definitely seven of them. That grumbling sound comes from him again while his arms fold over his chest. "So…" He takes a breath. "Right, the most important thing. Do you have to dress like that? Is something making you? Or is it all your choice, and you actively want people looking at…" He waggles a hand. "…how you're dressed?"

Zatanna relents with a grin. "I dress like this for a lot of reasons, but mainly, I look good when I do it. Whether you look at me or not is on you." Which is categorically true, but a trained analyst might notice the wealth of questions she could have asked but didn't: 'Do you ask male sorcerers that?' 'Why are you dressed that way?' 'Why are you asking? Are you the fashion police?' Zatanna asks none of those, instead focusing on putting on a show.

Most male sorcerors don't dress quite so flashy. If they did, Jimmy absolutely would ask 'dude, why aren't you wearing pants?'

"That's a very careful non-answer," Jimmy says. "It's true you look good. But… well, I just try to keep my eyes above the waistline as a matter of course. I try not to be a total creep, you know? And it's definitely more creepy if you're not dressed that way by your own choice."

Zatanna smirks wryly. "So are you thinking I lost a bet, or that I'm cursed?"

"I don't know what pressures might dictate how you dress," Jimmy says. "An orgnisation with uneven dress code. An influential person with strange demands. Coming off shift at—" He stops himself there. Nope, not going to suggest she just finished up at Club Obsidian.

"Uh huh? My shift at…?" Zatanna asks, leaning against the bar, enjoying this immensely.

Well now he can't just refuse to answer. "…C-Club Obsidian," he murmurs, so she'd have to strain to hear.

Zatanna doesn't get the reference, but picks up the gist, at least. "Have you known a lot of women who wear their stripper outfits home from the job?"

Oh jeez, and Jimmy thought he might have gotten away with it. His cheeks burn, blush radiating out to his ears. "Well no, but this isn't home, now is it? You could have thrown half a tuxedo on over it and gone out for drinks."

Zatanna's lips tremble as she suppresses a laugh. She just looks at Jimmy and waits for him to run that sequence of events through his mind again.

Jimmy says nothing more, to avoid digging that hole deeper. Instead, he just squints at her, giving her the best glare he can muster. Again, he pretty much ends up just looking like a pouty puppy.

"You should meet some strippers," Zatanna advises, kindly. "I promise you, they don't do… that." Her lower lip vanishes into her mouth as she literally bites back a smile.

"I already know one," Jimmy says. "Only reason I know about Obsidian to begin with. And off the job, she…" Cough. "…doesn't wear terribly much more than she does on it. Just more in the realm of 'very tight' than 'not covering much'."

Zatanna is surprised, for once, and beneath it, oddly jealous. "Really? Do you have a picture?"

Jimmy shakes his head. "I don't take a lot of pictures. But I could introduce you sometime — Voodoo's very sociable, always likes meeting new people." He sighs. "Even though I know the two of you in the same room will make me blush until my head catches fire."

That surprises a laugh from Zatanna. "Voodoo? How appropriate."

Jimmy grins. "Well, not that appropriate for her. She's not a magician, or else I'd suggest meeting up here. But no, it's more likely to be somewhere like an ordinary cafe."

Zatanna regards Jimmy, grinning. "So I guess you'd need my contact info to set up a meeting, huh?"

Something in that grin worries him, and he begins to fidget. "Er. That'd be most convenient, yeah. Or we could just name a time and place and I'll drag Voodoo there. I know when she's usually most available."

Zatanna grins. "We'll keep talking and see how I feel about giving you my number. Tell me about you."

Jimmy coughs, his jaw tensing from the heat and pressure of his blush. "You know the basics already. My girlfriend" Spoken with perhaps a bit too much emphasis. "has been getting me into roller skating, and trying to get me into roller derby. For now, I'm just learning how to move on skates without falling over. And she would absolutely relish meeting you, between enjoying your dress sense and teaming up to leave me spontaneously combusting."

Zatanna laughs. "I like her already. What's her name?"

Jimmy smiles softly. "Darcy. And…" He sighs. "I can show you a picture of her, but just so you know, she took this one, to go with the contact." Out the phone comes, and he soon shows her a picture. A woman with dark hair, glasses, and vividly red lips… and with the shot composed to maximise the display of cleavage from her athletic wear.

"She's very pretty," Zatanna says diplomatically. "I was just curious about this eternally nude stripper's fashion sense, though."

Jimmy puts his phone away. "She is," he says. "And it's not that Voodoo is always nude, though she'd definitely be comfortable with that. More that she, uh. Does not hide."

A suspicion occurs to Zatanna. "Were you raised human?" she asks, casually but curiously.

The question of his upbringing, especially early upbringing… it brings a cold, flat look to Jimmy's face. He shakes his head. "I'd rather not talk about it."

"Sure. Sorry," Zatanna offers mildly. Teasing is one thing, but this is another.

Jimmy shakes his head. "It's fine, it's fine. You couldn't have known." He takes a big swig of his… not at all alcholic drink. "But yeah. My point with Voodoo is, whether it's skimpy or tight, she… doesn't exactly conceal her figure. You'll have to see it for yourself."

Zatanna isn't that interested in Voodoo's figure, but decides Jimmy's statement is ambiguous enough it would be uncool to correct. "Sounds like she left a big impression."

Jimmy nods. "Though she's just plain cool in general. Sweet, empathetic, and well worth meeting."

Zatanna nods. "Does Darcy like her?"

Jimmy nods, smiling fondly. "They adore each other. And, ah. One of our dates, we went out to the Club Obsidian to… take in the show. Darcy very much enjoyed it."

Zatanna nods as if it isn't a big deal. An empathy like Jimmy would know it isn't to her. "Sounds like it's really on your mind," she observes, as if she had no part in bringing lewdness to mind.

The observation highlights just what in particular is on his mind, and he blushes at the reminder. It may not be a big deal to Zatanna, but it still makes Jimmy's cheeks glow. How does a shy guy like that end up with a girlfriend like Darcy?

Zatanna laughs. "Alright, alright, I'll change the subject. You came in here looking to come out of the closet, so to speak. What else are you hoping you'll get a chance to confess to?"

That is apparent what Zatanna calls changing the subject.

Jimmy's eyebrows lift. "Well, it's not that I'm terribly 'closeted' even away from here. I used to try, but it just keeps on slipping out anyway. I don't even really try to keep a secret identity anymore. Coming here, it was more about trying to make a connection with the supernatural community. Find people who can understand what it's all about."

"Yeah? What's it all about to you?"

Jimmy tilts his head. "It? As in the magical community, or life in general?" His hand lingers at his throat, toying with a cross pendant that hangs there.

"I assume you meant the magical community, since you're here," Zatanna guesses.

"Guh." Jimmy shakes his head. "Sorry. Long day. I meant the world in general. People who understand that there is magic in the world. And people who might understand what it's like to have it in you. It wasn't until recently that I even met someone else angelic. So, it got me to thinking about whether there's more, and what we could learn from each other, how we could understand each other."

"Wait, do you mean you met someone other than me who's angelic?" Zatanna asks. Her facade is perfectly innocent, but her mood is mischievous.

Jimmy rolls his eyes. "With how you tease, I'm pretty sure you're a devil in fishnets, honestly. A succubus, to be specific."

Zatanna pulls a face at Jimmy. "No, you're supposed to say, 'You're an angel?' Then I say, 'Why, don't I look like a heavenly body?' Jeez, Jimmy!"

Jimmy chews his tongue. "I feel like the 'correct' response here is something like… 'yes, you do look like a heavenly body — Uranus, since you act like a butt'." He frames it with that 'hypothetical' layer to make the joke clearer; he's teasing, not meaning to actually insult her.

"Good effort, but needs a second draft," Zatanna says cheerfully. "You switched the verb from looking to acting. It obscures the punchline."

Jimmy hmms behind his glass, nodding. "Fair enough. So, how about you? What do you most hope for, heading out for the doorless bar?"

That takes Zatanna aback, and she's not guarding her face well enough to hide it. After a moment of thought, she admits, "I guess… competition. The bar's patrons are my peers, and one day I'll have to either fight someone I met here or work with someone I met here. Whichever it is, I don't want to be good enough at what I do to pull my share. That means spending time in the community."

Jimmy tilts his head. "Just scoping out the competition, huh? How tactical." He doesn't outright call her on it, but his tone does suggest he expects there's more to it.

Zatanna considers that. "Not so much scoping out as trying to learn. I'm one of the best—"

There's no emotional arrogance in that statement, just a matter of fact that casts no emotional shadow in her heart.

"—But you don't get to be the best by getting lazy. And lazy sorcerers spend eternity as a demon's cooking pot, or something."

Jimmy nods slowly. "Or eternity in a demon's cooking pot. So, you learn about, and learn from, the others in the community. To make sure you stay the best."

Zatanna regards Jimmy inscrutably, soberly, for a moment. "That's one thing you should know about sorcerers, Jimmy. You'll never hear about one who dies in bed with family by your side."

Jimmy looks back, deeply into Zatanna's eyes, and slowly nods his head. "I doubt you'll hear the same about demi-angels, either. I didn't get a choice in being born with this, but I do get a choice in how I use it. And I'll use it for good, for others."

Zatanna considers Jimmy. "So you feel like you have free will? No angelic nature overpowering that for you?"

Jimmy shakes his head. "Even if my will is only five-sixths free, that's still free enough that my choices matter. Honestly, sometimes I think it'd be simpler if I did have impulses like those; at least if it's coming from an angelic place, it'd have a good chance of being the right thing anyway."

"Assuming you agree with Heaven, at least," Zatanna concedes.

Jimmy holds up the cross hanging from his neck. "For the most part? Yeah."

"For the most part? So you have notes you'd give?" Zatanna asks, smirking a little.

Jimmy's thumb runs across the silver. "Mostly, to come down here and straighten out people who misuse the teachings to justify their hate. I keep to the summary of the scriptures and the prophets: love the Lord my God, and love my neighbour like I'd love myself. That makes no room for homophobia, for mutantphobia, for all the other prejudices that people have tacked on top."

Zatanna shrugs in her custom-fit coat. "People don't care what the Bible says. If they did, they'd learn the language and read the originals. A bunch of angels coming down won't change that."

Jimmy sighs, then takes a few deep breaths, his eyes closed. "It would make it harder for people to claim that their own petty agenda is oh-so-conveniently a direct crusade from above. Have an angel come down and say" He changes again, glowing from everywhere, so he can use his deep and resonant angel voice for this line. "He Never Said That." Then a shift back to human, and a deep sigh. "Sorry. I get a bit… passionate about this."

Zatanna bites back a reply. No point arguing about a situation that will never happen. "It's okay," she says instead.

Jimmy closes his eyes for a moment, focused inwards… and then lets out a breath. He gives Zatanna an awkward smile. "Thanks. So… learning from the competition. How does 'make this strange weirdo blush his face off' factor into that?"

%r%tZatanna quirks a grin. "I'm good at multitasking."

Jimmy scoffs, though he's still grinning. "And that's so important a task." He goes for another sip of his drink and finds it empty. "Huh. I guess that means I should start heading home soon. It was good to meet you, though, Zatanna."

Zatanna nods. "You too, Jimmy. See you around."

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