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i clutched your arms like stairway railings, and you clutched my brain and eased my ailing

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It was a thing of sheer luck that Boston wasn’t still hanging around, because the first thing Zatanna did upon stumbling over the threshold of the House of Mystery was strip off her blouse, too drained to do it with magic. Her whole body ached bad enough already. Ichor had plastered the white button up to her skin, making it absolutely reek of the demonic taint. No amount of dry cleaning or spells would get that out. The protection runes tattooed onto her sternum were barely visible beneath the viscous substance coating her, and if it was possible to wrinkle her nose any further, she would have.

“Your back’s a bloody mess, luv.” An alluringly exhaustion and smoke roughened voice commented from the entryway. Zatanna hummed in response; she could feel the pain lancing up and down her skin well enough, though how he could differentiate between the blood from her wounds and the blood from the demons was a mystery.

Continuing on, she paused in the foyer to lean against an armchair- leaving an imprint on the fine fabric- in order to tiredly yank off her boots, losing several inches of height in the process. Another few steps and a painful pinch and her bra hit the ground, followed by a pause in walking for her wiggle out of her tights, shorts, and underwear all in a single go that involved quite a bit of shimmying. That garnered her a low whistle.

Zatanna looked back at John with a tired laugh and shake of her head, and he finally pushed off the wall where he’d been lingering and smoking- leaving his own icky imprint on the wallpaper- to follow her in.

“We spend a day and a half fighting a horde of demons and you’re still conscious enough to be looking at me like that while I look like this?”

“‘S hard not to appreciate the artwork here, luv.”

“Artwork of a woman covered in demon blood?”

“Now, I’ve never claimed to have normal tastes, have I?”

His eyes trailed up and down her form lecherously, and the look he gave her after had no uncertain meaning. With a snort of laughter, she turned back around and made for the nearest hallway. She felt like one big mass of hurt and dull pain, but it seemed guaranteed John could coax a laugh from her anyway. Naked except for blood– despite what she’d said it was a mixture of both hers and various demon’s, but certainly nothing John hadn’t seen before– Zatanna grabbed the handle of the door closest to the entrance, one that usually led to a sitting room. “Just make this a bathroom, please.”

Apparently the house held them little ill will for the ichorous stains left on the various furniture, because when she pushed it open, the sight of white tiles and a large shower greeted her.

“You’re invited, you know.” She called out, turning around again and catching her breath when she found him far closer than she’d thought. The proximity caused an indulgent little smile to spread across her face. Up close he looked as exhausted as she felt, but a hint of mischief still glimmered in his clear blue eyes. Little crinkles spread from the corners, a clear sign to her of his amusement even before his lips pulled into a teasing smirk around the lit cigarette. The smoke lazily curled between them it its path to the roof. The particular smell still triggered visceral sense memories down to her very being. Already she caught herself drifting closer and closer to him. Then, looking smug, he broke her little reverie.

“Wouldn’t dream of interruptin’ without your express permission, now would I?”

“Ha. You’ve never once been that polite.” Zatanna leaned up and caught his jaw in her hand so she could turn his head and kiss his cheek without worrying about catching her hair on fire with the Silk Cut. John didn’t mind the manhandling, and chuckled appreciatively. “Now, I am taking a very necessary, very hot shower, getting all of this off me, and destressing. With or without you, but I would prefer you there.”

With a pat to his cheek, she turned and entered the bathroom, leaving the door open behind her. Turning the water to almost-too-hot, Zatanna wobbled over the tub rim into the shower and stood facing the spray, so it wouldn’t yet hit the scratches on her back. As she released a slow breath and felt some remaining tension drain from her, the door closed and John, having removed his clothes, stepped in behind her. He valiantly attempted to keep his cigarette lit in the rapidly increasing humidity then ended up chucking it and, in a rare moment, stayed quiet. Since she hogged the water by standing directly beneath the spray, he ran his hands through her hair while the blood dripped down her front to mingle with the hot water at their feet as it swirled down the drain. His calloused fingers dragged slowly over her scalp- this sort of moment was the kind Zatanna was sure only she had ever gotten from him- then down to the apex of her neck, quiet and gentle and undemanding. He rest his head against the side of hers with his lips a whisper away from the top curve of her ear, and gathered her thick curls in a bundle with one hand and rubbed at her neck with the other. A soft moan escaped her at the sensation, but as the water and stillness wore down the leftover adrenaline and the fatigue took hold, she became more aware of her scrapes and grit her teeth, stumbling back a step directly into John.

He caught her with a hand spread flat over her abdomen. Together they took another step back, crowding against the far wall of the shower out of the stream of water. “Easy there, luv.”

“Ow.” She responded eloquently; the stinging she’d previously been staunchly ignoring was now making itself very unignorable. Who knew being thrown by a demon and subsequently scraping several meters along the asphalt could hurt so bad. In the moment she’d simply stood again and thrown herself back into the fight with a snarled backwards spell, but apparently the damage had been extensive enough to bother her now that the pain-numbing adrenaline had worn out and she was unmoving and unstressed for the first time in a day and a half.

After dropping her hair over one shoulder, John pulled back as far as he could in the cramped space, and inspected her back. This time his low whistle had an entirely different meaning.

“Have to clean that off, Zee. ‘N it’s not going to be near as pleasant as a steamy spa day.”

She groaned. “It would be easier with a spell.”

“You cast another spell and you pass out.” He knew her so intimately that it wasn’t an underestimation of her skill; only a fair judgment she wouldn’t have accepted from herself. “C’mere.” He turned her, still far enough out of the spray so the water didn’t yet hit her back, and took her face between his hands. With eyes closed, he bent forward enough to press their foreheads together, and Zatanna got the intent quickly. She closed her eyes too, and focused on syncing her breathing to his slow, measured breaths. They fell into rhythm easily, naturally. A wave of calm centeredness washed through the both of them. Their connection, the magic between them, mingled. It was serene there, and blessfully separate from her battered body. John took a step forward, backing Zatanna into the water.

It still hurt like hell, and she hissed through her teeth, prompting him to rub his thumbs against her cheeks in response, but she was detached enough from herself that the pain was bearable.

“Ow.” She said again, with more emphasis. Her eyes were still squeezed shut, but she could feel him pressing closer and peering over her shoulder.

“Almost there, luv.” His hands drifted down from her face to her shoulders, and he tilted her a bit to expose more of her shredded back to the downpour, resulting in another wave of stinging pain. She whined, unable to stop herself from squirming in his hold. He brushed his lips against her forehead; it surprised her enough to be distracting from the pain for a second, and she carefully stored it in her mind among her ever-growing catalogue of unexpected tenderness received from John. It was, admittedly, a collection she spent many quiet nights pondering. After a final long moment of feeling like the claws of yet another demon were scraping down her back, he rotated the both of them, taking her place beneath the water. The air was too heated by the water to be soothing, but being away from the immediate stinging was good enough, even though it all still hurt like hell. Zatanna rubbed at her cheek and groaned before rolling her shoulders back and her neck side to side a few times. He ran his hand up and down her arm in an absently comforting motion.

“I’ll heal it in the morning. After you make breakfast.” John had offered to do no such thing, but now, looking at the impossible combination of smug innocence that Zatanna had perfected, he only laughed.

“It’ll be night again by the time we wake, but I can’t say no to a proper fry up. Maybe this time I’ll finally convince you t’ try the black puddin’.”

“Ew, no.” She scoffed, with a wrinkle of her nose. “Still vegetarian, I just really like the way you do the eggs and beans and toast. In no universe am I ever trying your gross oatmeal blood patties.”

“S’always worth a shot. You’ve been known to fall for my charms in the past.”

Zatanna rolled her eyes, though the presence of a fond smile beneath dulled the effect somewhat. She placed a hand on his chest, and looked him over. His front was a plane of scars and tattoos, some intimately familiar to her, and some he’d gained in their years apart. They made her heart ache. But he’d avoided close range with most of the demons- something she’d have liked to do herself- and didn’t look to be too injured beyond a few bruises.

“You’re alright?” She rubbed her thumb over a tattoo on his ribs, the fading Latin script instantly recognizable to her. “None of them got you?”

He tipped his head back to let the water run over his light hair, and ran his hands through it, splattering grime and water droplets onto the walls of the shower, making a show of cleaning off before he offered her a half-smile and shook his head. “I’m fine, luv. Jus’ bloody exhausted.”

Zatanna cracked a small smile. “Well, if you’re so tired, we should go right to sleep.”

“Ah.” He caught her wrist in his hand, and brought it up to his face. “Fuck that. I’ve got at least a dozen and a half things I’ve got to do with you before we turn in. More now, cos I’m remembering how you looked shootin’ lightning out your hands when you fried that hoard of arsehole lower demons.”

She laughed softly, and he brushed his lips along the inside of her wrist. His smirk was all his sharp edges and bluster over a worn tiredness, and it made everything about the world a bit more gentle for a quiet moment. He released her wrist, so she used the freedom to place her hand on his face, rubbing gently against his stubble before she drifted her hold to the back of his neck and pulled him closer.

“Come here then, and show me.”

The kiss started slow, but that didn’t hide its intentions. Their unhurried press of lips progressed to his tongue in her mouth, slick and warm and coaxing her to a fire. Years of time together and he knew all the dirty tricks to make a shiver run over her skin. In retaliation, she nipped at his lower lip, just this side of painful, then sucked at it as she pressed him against the wall. The motion required her to lean up on her toes; she held onto his shoulders both to push at him and keep herself stable.

“I’ll have to hold you ‘ere so I don’t hurt your back.” His hands had settled on her ass; he punctuated his words with a squeeze, then muffled up her laughter with another deep kiss. Her body pressed flush against him, both of them pulling closer, closer. Every line of the front of her body touched his and the warm humid air wrapped around the rest of her. The warm shower still ran, a gentle patter on her left side, and she was distracted enough that even her back didn’t hurt too badly. The press of their lips held warmth, and familiarity, and a safety and comfort she only felt with him; but there was also the way they bashed heads, always goading each other further and further. He bent slightly to let his fingers brush tantalizingly against the insides of her thighs, so she licked into his mouth before settling flat on her feet and peppering his neck with kisses. He tipped his head back with a groan while she went to work sucking bruises along his throat. Zatanna knew well enough that John didn’t need or want her to bother being gentle about it and his quiet groans only encouraged her.

One hand left her ass to instead grope at her breast, kneading at her flesh and running his thumb just barely over her nipple until it peaked. She arched forward ever closer to him to encourage less gentle teasing, needing more. With a last good squeeze, his hand left her ass and traveled to her front, cupping her lightly. Before she could rock against his palm and relieve the fast building wanting, he withdrew his hand and instead grazed his fingers along her outer lips. Tease. Fine.

“John Constantine, I hate you.” She murmured against his collarbone, tipping her head to rest against his shoulder, stuck in a state of anticipation as he traced along her without actually providing enough pressure anywhere to be satisfying. He chuckled, and pressed a kiss to her hair.

“You’ve said that quite a number of times, luv, and look where you are now.” He spread her to trace the lightest of circles around her clit and she whined, high and needy. Zatanna bit at his collarbone, making him hiss low under his breath, then ran her hand down his front to take his cock in her hand with little preamble. She gripped the base gently and pulled up slowly to rub her thumb along the tip to his breathy grunt, and she felt petulant about how she was being decidedly less teasing than he was.

“You’re the worst.” His fingers continued their slow exploration between her legs, still with nothing tangible enough to be anything but teasing and, in Zatanna’s opinion, utterly aggravating. Another slow circle around her clit then back to broach her entrance. Her breath caught with anticipation.

“So I’ve been told. Fuck, Zee, you’re so wet. You’re perfect, you lovely, amazing thing.” He shifted to loop an arm around her waist and bend her back to bury his face against her neck. Her skin stung where his arm touched the raw scratches, but his lips were on her skin and he was easing one finger into her oh so slow and, God, nothing mattered but the feeling of him, the pain was nothing. She gripped his shoulder with one hand, stilling and gasping as he finally filled her, even though it wasn’t nearly enough.

He withdrew, then slowly drove back into her, crooking his finger just right. His mouth on her neck and the rhythmic in and out drove her to distraction, and distinct from the shower water she could feel how outrageously wet she was on the insides of her thighs, and the ease with which he gently slipped a second finger into her proved it, and she still had his cock gripped loosely in her hand, and she wanted him inside her instead, and, and, but-

“This is- ah, I don’t think either of us are capable of doing this standing right now.”

“Wait, luv, a few things first off.” John shifted to hold her hips still as he pressed another quick kiss to her lips, then sunk down to sitting, his legs sprawling in the small space of the tub. One hand trailed down her leg and hooked under her knee, and he carefully maneuvered her to place her foot on the rim of the tub. Zatanna maintained balance easily, but watched him with a skeptical, though fond, expression.

“I don’t think this is-“ He gave her a long, slow lick and she gasped, reaching out wildly to brace her hand on the wall. “Um, fuck, a sustainable position.”

“Zee, darling, I’m not letting a bloody potential crick in my neck stop me from making you come for me, not when I have been thinking about this all-“ The movement of his tongue was unhurried and warm and tortuous and she squirmed. “- day.”

“... ‘Kay.” He knew her too well and used his mouth too perfectly for her to put up much more complaint. Zatanna threaded the fingers of her free hand through his hair and tried to breathe and not topple over from the sheer sensation as he licked into her, slow and methodical. She tugged his hair, impatient, and when he moaned, the vibrations reverberated through her. His stubble rubbed up against her soft skin, and his mouth did such lovely things, especially now that he’d apparently gotten the message and moved passed teasing. He knew her, intimately, implicitly, knew the exact pace to make her shudder, to make her really need the wall and him for support when before she’d been fine maintaining her balance. His tongue laved against her clit and dipped into her, a pressure and speed just this side of overwhelming and she moaned, her mouth falling open as she panted for breath.

“Ah- fuck, John, come on, please, I- oh!” Her words were mostly unintelligible and she swore she could feel the smug bastard smiling against her. His lips shifted to suck on her clit and oh, he was perfect, he was amazing to her, she was so close, so close, and- when John curled his two fingers back into her, pressing in and out just right in a perfect slide, Zatanna gasped and shivered, squeezing her eyes shut as her mind went pleasantly blank and fuzzy with the pleasure.

When she caught her breath and opened her eyes again, it was to the sight of John still sitting, and mumbling the last sonorous vowels of a phrase she didn’t quite catch over the noise of the shower water pattering against the floor. Then he kissed the inside of her thigh, and smirked up at her. “Alright there, luv? You were saying my name quite a bit but I was too busy to ask what was the matter.”

She laughed, still breathless, before what he’d been murmuring gained meaning. The strange, itching feeling of magical healing traced up and down her back as her raw scratches closed faster than naturally possible. Zatanna twisted to touch her back and found the skin smooth and healed, then looked back at John with her eyebrows raised incredulously. When she spoke, her words were partially mangled by her restrained laughter. “Did you just heal me using the inherent magical energy from my- you’re ridiculous, thank you, darling.”

Now that she could spend a moment under the shower without stinging pain, she stumbled back a step to tip her head into the water to let it saturate her hair. Actually washing it would have to come later, but she ran her hands through some of the more blatant tangles. He watched her, a soft reverence in his eyes she could never wrap her head around when it appeared. She smiled at him, and revelled in the unspoken truths between them.

After wringing some of the excess water from her hair, Zatanna carefully lowered herself to the floor along with him and crawled closer. John immediately reached out to take her into his arms. They kissed, and he eased backwards, pulling her along with him until he was laying back with her atop him. For a long moment they simply kissed with his hands on her thighs and hers on his shoulders, content and together skin to skin. But she could feel his desire, and the restless need spread to her quickly as well. Zatanna rose up on her knees and gripped his cock, running her thumb along the vein just to watch his expression shift and hear his intake of breath.

“Zee, you cruel, beautiful woman, show a poor bloke some pity.”

“It’s only fair.” Zatanna hummed with a smug smile as she brushed the tip of his cock along her slit. John cursed, and his thumbs pressed hard into the soft skin just center of her hip bones.

“Do you want me to beg? I can. You know I’m good at it.”

“Mm, we can save that for when we’re less tired and have time to break in that new strap-on.” At his expression, Zatanna laughed quietly.

“You torture me for fun, Zee. You’re a witch.”

“I know. That’s sort of the point.”

“You’re bloody amazing.”

With another quiet laugh, she finally positioned him at her entrance, and sunk down, slowly letting gravity do the work until he entirely filled every inch of her and their hips were flush together. The pleasant stretch made her eyes flutter shut as she adjusted to him being inside her.

“Fuck, John.” His hands tensed hard on her hips and she shivered a little, then inhaled sharply when that caused her to shift. The upperhand she’d had when teasing him quickly dissolved at the too-much so-perfect feeling of him inside her. The smirk he shot her then was more strained, clearly waiting in anticipation for her to begin moving. It was an odd fit; his head resting against the back wall and her knees bumping up against the sides of the bath where they bracketed his hips, but it felt damn good to be so blissfully full and close, and the warm water was all comforting and cleansing, entirely unlike the stifling heat of the ritual space they’d spent the last hour of their misadventure in. She traced along his scars and tattoos with the tips of her fingers as the stretch eased; John looked at her with that awed expression, the one that made her feel overwhelmed with a heart full to bursting.

“I love you, John Constantine.”

John only looked at her worshipfully, like she was some goddess, some star, like he was amazed to be there with her, and he pulled her close to kiss and the shift in position made her gasp into his mouth. His hand tangled in her sodden hair and he held her to him as his other hand wrapped around her waist. John held Zatanna close, close and comfortable and tender in a way she couldn’t imagine either of them could ever bring themselves to with another. He held her carefully so he could withdraw then thrust up into her and she whined against his lips at the slick friction, clutching tight at his shoulders. He moved aggravatingly slow and sweet; the pleasure curled down to her toes in delightful shivers. He tugged on her hair, retribution for earlier maybe, and she tipped her head back and moaned, tilting her hips to meet his thrusts better. He mouthed at her neck; his kisses were sloppy and open-mouthed and warm, frantic in the heat of the shower mist and his steadily increasing pace.

The smooth glide of his cock worked to quickly ignite her and she wanted, needed to go faster than this slow drag, so she gripped his shoulders harder to leverage herself up until he almost slipped from her, then back down until she was blissfully full again. He held her hips hard and helped her along, surely leaving marks to echo those the demons had, but that was how she loved it. Her nails dug little crescent red marks to dot among his tattoos as scars as she fucked herself on his cock, and his moans encouraged her. John’s eyes were half-lidded, darkened by his pupils, and his lips were parted; Zatanna was utterly smitten. Her thighs were beginning to burn with the effort, protesting after all the action of this last day combined with this but she couldn’t give a damn because the pleasure of his cock spearing into her again and again consumed her mind. She let her eyes fall shut, and everything was him and this perfect passion, this enduring need.

“Fuck, you’re lovely, Zee.” His hand dipped between them so he could brush his thumb against her clit. The rough touch drew a whine from her, and she stuttered in the pace she’d set. He rocked his hips up against her, and after a pause she gathered herself enough to start riding him again, the pace quicker and more frantic than before. “That feel good, luv?”

A coherent response eluded her, so she nodded, a low moan escaping her. “Yeah it does. Love to feel you around me, love to watch your face when you come for me. You’re so beautiful, Zee.”

John was out of breath, yet still murmuring to her, his accent thicker with his distraction. He pressed harder on her, rubbing tight circles around the sensitive bundle of nerves, words of praise still on his lips. “Perfect, darlin’. Bloody gorgeous, look at you.”

Zatanna lost rhythm entirely, desperately rocking her hips faster and faster until the pleasure crashed through her and she shuddered, drooping forward onto him as her muscles clenched spasmodically. John held her and thrust up more, working her through it as she tightened around him and dragged out the hazy shivers that spread through her body until he spilled into her with a groan. The warm release into her exhausted and overstimulated body drew a quiet gasp from her, and John pulled her closer.

When the world shifted back into focus and her breathing came to her easily again, she opened her eyes to the curve of his neck. She shifted forward just enough to kiss a mark she’d left on his skin. His hands trailed lazily over her back, and rubbed nonsensical patterns into her soft skin.

For a moment, the world was perfect.

“Oka-“ She yawned suddenly and loudly, and he held her while they both shook with quiet, sleepy laughter. “Mm, emitdeb won.”

They cleaned themselves cursorily then shut off the shower, finally, and dried half-heartedly before stumbling to bed together, hands intertwined. The House again showed them a kindness by attaching the room they usually slept in to the bathroom, and the two clumsily tumbled under the covers. Tonight, John curled around Zatanna, his arms around her middle. As they both verged on drifting off, he drew her closer, and whispered softly into her hair.

“Love you too, Zee.”