15659/Sleeze, wheeze, cheese.

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Sleeze, wheeze, cheese.
Date of Scene: 01 October 2023
Location: Noonan's Sleazy Bar, Old Gotham
Synopsis: A Daemon and Hellblazer in a bar. Peanut happened, and observations on human kind
Cast of Characters: Askante, Constantine

Askante has posed:
There's bars and then there's bars. Some of them are quite classy, filled with the young and the successful. Some are dives, where the down and the out come in.

And then there's bars where they really don't care who you are, as long as your back's green and you don't cause a fuss. Or if you cause a fuss, you had better be able to finish what you start. This is Gotham after all, a place which seemed to attract every lunatic, psycho, criminal and vigilante like a magnet. But there's ordinary people here too, just attempting to live a life. The underbelly have lives, too, right?

It's Karaoke night in Noonan's and surprisingly, it's quite a friendly crowd of no-goods that are crooning into the mic and otherwise being less dangerous and curmudgeonly than they usually are. Some of them are even in tune. Some are playing pool. And at the end of the bar, is a tall fellow deep into his cups. At least, that's what all the seedy types in here are seeing. A guy just wanting to be left alone, that might have been good at playing basketball, if the big leagues had spotted him.

But if one has eyes that see through the shadow and know what the world is REALLY up to, that ain't nothing remotely human. It might not even be a meta, given that they usually keep a moderation of humanesque physique to them. But Askante IS nursing a drink -- a long tall grasshopper that it's stirring with a neon green stick, watching the crowd and being inexorably apart from it.
Constantine has posed:
This is exactly the kind of joint Constantine frequents. A place where people are shitty enough that he fits right in and stupid enough that he can easily take advantage of them.. honest to Gods, it's the best kind of ceasepool and John couldn't be happier when his cab, because he still takes cabs, pulls up to Noonan's bar. Then he's greet by the crooning of some mook who probably works for Hammerhead, or whatever. Singing 'Dust in the Wind' so off key, you'd think it was intentional...

John snorts and makes his way towards the bar, "Ay, what's on tap, mate?" Says the Liverpool born Scouse of a man. With his shaggy blonde curls coiling down either side of his sallow cheeks, dirty trenchcoat worn over an half buttoned off white shirt, loosened tie, slacks and dirty loafers. "Give us a pint." He flicks his fingers and taps them down on the bartop, fishing a pack of silk cuts from the pocket of his coat.

The periodic glance about himself reveals several potential marks. Peope he'll absolutely be conning out of their socks before strolling out of Gotham like a cat who caught the canery, until his steely gaze falls upon the tall drink of wasted basketball talent down at the end of the bar.

What with the shadows cutting back away from him revealing something distinctly, unquestionably, not human at all. "Huh.." He slides down a stool, not bothering to hide it, and pulls a book of matches from an inside coat pocket. With a cigarette bobbing between his lips, formed into his most charismatic smile, he speaks just loud enough to be heard over the crooning off key, "What exactly are -you-, eh?" Rattling that matchbox up near his ear like someone might dice.
Askante has posed:
Well, if it's not the last scion of the Laughing Wizards. Askante had just raised the neon stir stick to its nose to sniff along the plastic, when the rattling of matches makes it look up and stare at the murky mirror behind the bar. Black eyes, glistening like oil, stare... until a nictating membrane flicks sideways over them and it turns its head, with an answering rattle of those long spines growing out of its head. It blinks again, this time with both membranes and eyelids, looking at the dirty dishwater blond. Down, up, over, then leaning sideways a bit, to take in the whole effect around the other punters at the bar.

"Are you talking to me?" its voice is strangely melodious, neither masculine nor feminine, but quite sweet on the ear regardless. It points at its chest with it, with a long finger that has... more knuckles than they're supposed to and a rather sharp claw at the end. "If you are, I'm a person." Sure "One that is trying to decide if I like the flavour of this libation. It seems like it's just a slightly wonky orange juice." Well, duh.
Constantine has posed:
A gentle click of John's tongue rattling back and forth against the back of his upper row of teeth accompanies the black eyed stare and side sliding eyelid blink. "Sure you are, lad. Me too, me too." The match rattles gently inside the box, held up near his ear. And that seems to be the exten of it, with that bobbing cigarette bouncing in his lips with each quietly spoken word.

That single match rattles, but then begins to whizz.. a hissing sound as the magic within is powered with murmured arcane words beneath his breath. If the being is a demon? It is definitely about to get very uncomfortable...

While John is wiping his palm down across his jacket and holding it across his body, "John Constantine." Provided there's not suddenly a lot of hellfire and imminant trouble afoot.
Askante has posed:
Askante's quills raise a little, almost like a cockatoo crest. They flare out sideways too, at the rattle and the murmur. It in fact stares pointedly at the matchbox and the result of the incantation. It clucks its tongue, then grins. It has more than one row of teeth too, nice and even and sharp, with elongated canines. "Well, I'm not one of -those-, that's certain." It shifts its shoulders, unfolds the extra set of arms that were neatly propping it in its forward lean on the bar. The old duster it wears is very obviously an antique, that particular style was last seen in the first photos from the wild west. And it tingles to magical senses, quite deliciously -- a bit like peardrops and sherbert and that very subtle smell of well used playing cards.

One of the hands extends, similarly across the body, maybe because it's mimicking. It might be a weird tradition after all. Complete with fingerwiggles and a quick nonsense wibble of words! "Constantine? Oh, now it makes sense. You're a Laughing Wizard," Askante chuckles, musically. Far more musically than the current singer. Oh lawks, that key! "Askante. I think you were aiming at sulphur. I'm older than they are."
Constantine has posed:
With greetings extended and a lack of demonic presence assured, Constantine whispers another incantation and slides open the matchbox to retrieve the single match within. Striking it to produce a generic orange glow that reflects in his blue eyes which shift to one side to watch the figure beside him. "Older, is it?" He says, then hollows his cheeks out for a drag of the fragrant cigarette that plumes smoke with a delicate mix of clove and some kind of spike aroma.

The match is waved out slowly and tossed up onto the bar.

"Mmm... Askante... Askante.." He takes another drag, working his jaw to form little circular rings. The two fingers holding the silk cut jut in the figures direction, "Wait a tick, you're one of them emotion critters. Bollocks, mate. I thought you lot were all ^tits up?"
Askante has posed:
"Daemon, the greeks called us. Then the christians took that word and corrupted it," Askante nods though. If anyone was going to know about them, it would be the Hellblazer. That library of his is /weirdly/ handy, when it wants to be. "As far as I know, there's just the two of us. I've been hunting for the others, but..." it shakes its head, briefly looking rather tautly at the selection of alcohols behind the bar. There isn't much that's good, so it raises a hand to the barman. "Something strong and a grilled cheese, please? Thankyou." Several crumpled fives are tossed onto the bar, then flattened out into just mildly wrinkly.

It looks back across its shoulder, peering around the collar of the coat at John. "Now I'm curious if you know which one I am."
Constantine has posed:
There are few people as well versed on things that are well outside his wheelhouse as John Constantine. There has to be a benefit to all the double dealing he's known for, right? Sucking another drag, smoke curling out from his nostrils into the mop of dirty water brown hair. The natural heat of so many people packed into such a small bar has a thin layer of sweat beading down his forehead.

"Mmm..." John was about to say something when the barman shows up with the pint he'd ordered, sliding it towards an out stretched hand. He waits for them to take the Daemon's order, then casts a glance side long over the amber glow of his cigarette dangling from his lips. When it speaks, it jumps with every word, dashing ashes down onto the bartop, "You don't give off any particular aura, but I haven't delt with any of you lot before.. You didn't try'n rip my throat out second I slid closer, so it's unlikely you're anger." Thumb extends out and runs down the corner of his open mouth, "You're definitely not Corruption-" Fingers, clutching a cigarette, indicate the ratty looking five spot he laid on the bar.

"You keep glancin' aroun' you, eyeballing that mirror like you're expectin' someone to come sneakin' up on ya... fear." He inclines his head and nods, a self assured smirk curls his stubbled jaw. "You're fear innit?"
Askante has posed:
"My word, you're actually quite good at that," Askante applauds with a couple of hands, softly and puts them back to leaning against the bartop. It doesn't seem to care how filthy the bar actually is, but then that coat has seen quite a lot of bars in its time. "You would be correct. It's a very strange world these days. My purpose seems to have gone completely and utterly bonkers. There are people afraid of the silliest and most obscure of things, it's occasionally /very/ disorientating."

It reaches across the bar, picks a bowl of peanuts with two claws and drags it closer. A peanut is selected, tossed and caught in its mouth. The crunch is quite satisfying.

It's also served a bottle of rotgut, which it looks at, then smiles at. "They still make this stuff? Oh yay. I got very, very merry on this with a nice doxie in Tombstone." It sighs, content, then looks across its collar again to Constantine. "I would not have expected to see a Laughing wizard here though, I used to avoid your bloodline. There were quite a few that were very demanding."
Constantine has posed:
"It's sort of my thing." Constantine takes another drag, already fishing another from the open pack laying beside his elbow propped upon the edge of the bar. It twists between his fingers and settles between his lips, lit with the burning amber of the one he'd just been smoking and is summarily snuffed out in a glass ashtray. This is one of the last remaining places on earth were they still keep ashtrays on the bar.

"Aye, I'm off duty." When is he on duty, though? "I was going to hustle these yanks at a couple rounds of billards and get well bevvied before the suns up." The pint is turned up for a long pull, staring at whomever is on stage absolutely ruining a perfectly good Sex Pistols song. "Oi! If you lads are going to sing it, could you at least try and find the proper key? That's a beautiful track you're butchering." Thumb jerking in their direction, rolling his eyes for Askante's sake. "You believe this? What if I got up there and bellowed Garth Brooks off key, you'd have every tosser this side of the Dixon line coming for me head."

He had, of course, heard that last bit. "Well, nights young innit?" He muses, regarding being demanding, with a smirk.
Askante has posed:
"Well, that sounds like it was a night that would've made any huckster proud," that's what he's been labelled as, that's what he currently is, at least in the mind of the Daemon. Askante chuckles, takes another peanut, then hunts pockets, patting with one palm, until it finds what it was looking for: A clay pipe, of the very old kind. It's got a couple of beads on a leather thong wrapped around the base of the bowl and it seems to have been well used. Smiling, it puts the mouthpiece in lips and simply inhales. Soon, grey is wafting from its nose, though it doesn't seem as if it had to load it with tobacco. The scent has a kind of... mary-J vibe.

"I'm afraid I am still catching up to who all these people are. I am assuming that they are minstrels?" Minstrels! Yes. Minstrels. "It is quite interesting though, I've a lot of music to catch up to, which seems to have been prolific this century." Puff puff. Aaahhhh.

"You know, promises like that make a body wary." A bit of salt is selected from one of the salt shakers and obligatorially tossed over its left shoulder. Maybe Lucifer ends up with a stinging eye for some reason.
Constantine has posed:
"These blokes? Minstrels?" Constantine very nearly coughs when they refer to them as minstrels, "Yeah, a bunch of proper trobadours them." Another drag, still snickering at the implication, "No, these lads are just drunks reading songs off that monitor." He indicates it with a point, cupping a handful of peanuts from the bowl that he tosses into his own mouth one at at ime.

The cigarette settles between his lips, bobbing gently as he speaks. One eye squinting from the smoke rolling up from the end, "The Sex Pistols. That's who they're butchering... Punk band from the eighties, real proper anarchists. Probably right up your alley."

As for the salt? John snorts and shakes his head. If there's anything at all that bothers him, the Devil isn't one of them. He's delt with his share of them, afterall. Still, he reaches in his coat and pulls out a small glass vial and sets it down infront of the Daemon, "Rock salt. Far better for your-" wiggling finger, "-superstition." Whether he believes in it or not.. or thinks the need was real.
Askante has posed:
Punk band from the eighties. That's mouthed by the Daemon then it looks over to the karaoke machine, at the current Likely Lad butchering what was already quite butchered, if you ask anyone with ears and a whim for the classical. "Anarchists. I am not..." it thinks about that a moment, tips its chin down and peers below its scaley brow at the crowd. "...sure... that any human being is very good at being anarchist. It does not work in practice, only in principle, because it takes the principle that people left to self-rule, will be reasonable in their whims and wants. Some might be capable of it, but I am inclined to think there's more likely not."

The rock salt is eyed and it twitches a bit, hesitant, until it snatches it up and pockets it. "I do not like having to obey the superstition. It compels though, for the warding of fears... bloody consensual beliefs." Mutter.

And then, a small seed pod is put on the bar infront of Constantine. "Fire seeds." It states. "A trade for a trade."
Constantine has posed:
"Hah..." Constantine actually laughs, which is surprisingly melodic despite the fact he's been chainsmoking cigarettes for as long as he can remember. "You're definitely not wrong, but I've always had a big trouble with authority.. specifically any kind of..." He wiggles his hands, through smoke, in the air at his side, ".. ruling body that lords that much power over anyone. Be it mortal..." Two fingers point at the mirror, ".. or not."

The grin remains, sardonic as it may be.

"I, however, am no archetect. In'at that I have no desire to construct a replacement for whatever governance I tear down. I think it's all bollocks. The whole thing.. from top to bottom." Motioning as such with fingers clutching at his cigarette. Which goes between his lips for another long drag and dramatic expelation of smoke from his nostrils.

"Or maybe I just like chaos." While eyeing the fire seeds. His hand passes over them and they disappear into pockets unknown. "Cheers." He agrees with a nod, flicking ashes off the end of his cigarette onto the floor.
Askante has posed:
"You're welcome," Askante muses on the statements made, looking at the face in the mirror and the man that's seeing exactly what it is. It twirls the pipe. "Why do you think they do it, you reckon? Allow people to tell them where to go, what to do, how to think, when to eat..." it glances over toward the karaokeists, living their lives in blissful ignorance of its presence and back to looking the englishman in the eye, in a reflection. "It starts out with a chieftain, then it becomes us versus them, then tribes merge and get bigger and someone else comes out on top. It's all about the power, I suppose..."

Another puff of the pipe and it smiles, rather mellowly. "Is Chaos a good thing? In the chaos, nothing has form or reason, rationale or purpose, it simply is, then is not, becomes else and returns to flux. I dimly remember Chaos, then... I was there. It's been a long, strange road from there."
Constantine has posed:
"People?" Constantine was staring into his pint, which he then drinks. A big mouthful that he swallows in two big gulps and peers over at Askante, "Bollocks, mate.. People are afraid of what they can't define. You should know that better than anyone-" Pointing at the Daemon of Fear with a bead of sweat rolling down between his eyes. He looks, if not pleased by the sound, at least pleased that they've moved off of the Sex Pistols into some American pop song.

Another cigarette comes from the open pack, lit with the one he'd been nursing, only for it to stub out with the first. And his free hand drops to the frosted glass of his beer. "The dark scares them, innit? You were there, yeah? Dark Ages? A prime hunting ground for dangerous monsters controlling stupid men when the Church formed to safe guard these wankers from the edge of society..." He snorts and shakes his head.

"None for me, cheers all the same. If the alternative to the absence of rule is the presence of anarchy? I'll take it. Because these nubties-" Ciggie dancing in a bob between his lips when he points over his coat covered shoulders, "-are being led by their short hairs on a long trip down a short pier."
Askante has posed:
This time, the Daemon actually turns in its seat and looks fully square at Constantine. "Maybe it was once to keep themselves safe. But they fear what they do not understand. Sometimes, that's a great many things, so language comes about to explain, to define." It shrugs shoulders, all four of them. "I don't really think they've evolved much past that, they've just managed to complicate themselves." Pausing, it tries to work out the meaning of the semantics used there.

"You just insulted them all, didn't you." Yuh-huh. "But..." it has to ask this "...why would you prefer to not know yourself? Is that... preferable?"

Tricky question that. One for the ages.
Constantine has posed:
"The more things change, the more they don't change." John taps his cigarette with the end of his pinky and rains ashes down onto the floor. Only loosely glancing over at Askante when it turns to face him fully. A charming smile despite the disarray of his appearance, let it not be said that he can't turn it on when the desire suits him. "In my line of work, you start to see the inconsistencies..." Cigarette deposit between his lips, bobbing, but it frees him to use his hands to make small gestures as he speaks.

"The details that point to all the broken edges of their belief structures. And the irony, the real bloody tit of it all, is the heavens have to follow these wankers. It's divine dogma. As man, so unto heaven-" pointing upwards, "-and that's why I'll stay on the sidelines and let them both burn themselves to ash. Because that's completely mental. It's giving the keys to your ashton martin to a suppin' babe who shouldn't be trusted with a trolly, let alone workings of higher beings."

He scissor swipes the cigarette and expels smoke in a single gush. Fragrant, far more so than he himself probably is as he sweats out whatever liqour he'd been drinking the night before. "Aye, mate, I insulted them.. and they aren't me. These are the pawns on the chess board..." waving his fingers backwards at an angle, "And I'm violin. That's how difference between these nobs and me."
Askante has posed:
"I wonder what that makes me," Askante muses that, scratching its cheek with a claw and making a soft scratch noise with it. Scales and all. "It wasn't men that brought me into being, as far as I know. It wasn't the gods either. I just wasn't and then I was -- but I've been dealing with the things that aren't supposed to be here, for millenia. It gets tiring after a while."

No kidding, right? The Hellblazer knows that well enough. Another puff of the pipe and it seems to eventually be satisfied there, tucking it back into the pocket of the coat.

"It is nice to not owe a bow and obedience to Heaven or Hell. Or to men, outside of my purpose. But that that you speak of, it has done a few interesting things to the ordinary to make it extraordinary." It holds up a finger, reaches into another pocket... HOW MANY POCKEts ARE there? -- and unfolds an absolutely filthy rag, laying it on the counter. It also tingles of magic. "And people do not understand..." it gestures "...that belonged to a '49er named Charming Pete. It was given to me when he died as a thank you. But nobody wants to use the cloth that will clean anything up, because it looks filthy."
Constantine has posed:
A cough racks his shoulders, starting deep in his chest and radiating outward until he's got to reach out for a napkin to cover his mouth when it doesn't pass as quickly as he seems to think it was going to. It's a fairly long fit, but doesn't seem to distract him despite his face temporarily going red. Hell, he takes a drag between two fitful racks that sound a great deal like someone coughing up part of their lung. Like he's staring death right in the eyes and telling it to go fuck itself.

Once he's done, or thinks he is, he drags his palm across his mouth and checks to see if it's bloody. When it's not, he drains the rest of his pint and peers over at Askante with blood shot eyes.. the after effect of the fit, no doubt. Which, as it turns out, becomes pretty ironic when the filthy rag is produced. "Black lung?" He wheezes, another single cough that clears the harsh breath and looks like it actually has him feeling a great deal better.

"mm.." His head cants from side to side, neck popping in both directions. "I've done the last rites for men and devil alike." Cigarette, unlit, bobs between his lips. The one he'd been smoking twists around and presses amber to unlit end with a short pause to puff it to life before stabbing it out with the other two. "Nobody faces mortality quite like the desperate. The ones who've been dragging their whole life with nothing to show for it..." Pointing at the rag, but likely meaning the 49er it belonged to. "Bloke had nothing to show for it, his death was meaningless to anything... so aye, I bet the lad did appreciate you. Because at least he died knowing something else existed, innit?" Another cough, though not nearly as deep or painful.

"Aye-" Holding up his empty glass, "Another pint, mate."
Askante has posed:
"Actually, he died of old age, in his bed in San francisco. I actually helped him in the mine -- scared him and his partner away from an abyssal that woke up. Occasionally, people see exactly what's in front of them, but it's rare. He was wearing that kerchief around his mouth on that day and considered it lucky... kept it with him, struck gold and met a school teacher in San Antonio, I think it was. He'd clean himself with it, when he went on dates, or to get jobs and it never failed to remove the filth. But he did have black lung... and that cleared up with the rag."

It looks at Constantine steadily. "You have black lung, don't you? From the pipe weed."

Just a guess, but quite on the mark, most likely. "A lot of these things came to being during the Wilds -- things got released from the underneath when men rolled across the plains. That's before your time, I think? Unless you have lived longer than you look like you have." Another contemplation here. "Not all of them got taken care of, but I was too tired and fell asleep when the great quakes started to happen."
Constantine has posed:
"Oh, slot off." Constantine starts with a smirk, face returning to something resembling his normal palour. He obviously thinks there's some turn to the story, but then Askante continues relating the happy ending the 49er faced... "You're not taking the piss?" He finally asks, after another long drag. Smoke roll out from his nostrils towards the quickly growing cloud above his head. "Well a broken clock is right twice a day, innit..." Said last under his breath with a smirk and flick of his hand upwards. All fingers spreading except the two clutching his ciggie.

"I did.. maybe do. It's of no real concern, I've had it twice, cancer. I wouldn't say I got better.." A devious smirk curls out from the previous humored one. "I'm just really good at dodging consequences of my actions.. What's it you said, a huckster?" Two fingers tap the center of his chest.

"No, not quite that old, mate. My ailments are all quite modern. I've never done a days hard labor in a mine, in my life." Snort laughing, he up nods to the barman when his pint arrives. "Cheers." Eyes turning to the side to consider the rag laid on the counter. "I know people'd pay their souls for a relic like that."
Askante has posed:
When it turns out that the Daemon isn't telling a tall tale, the conclusion is made with a grin.

"And this is why I keep them safe. Because that is how it's always been, with relics that they should probably not have." FINALLY its cheese toastie arrives, which it slides fingers around, slipping off the stool.

"You are an intereting one, Constantine. It was a pleasure to meet you. Somehow, I think I shall meet you again." It bows over two arms and stands to its full height. Yep, definitely could have been a basketball player!

"May your path be as straight as you desire it to be." And then, it simply vanishes in a cloud of skittering smoke and crawling shadows.