May You Have Gnocchi From Your Children

BY : pronker
Category: DC Verse Comics > Justice League
Dragon prints: 165
Disclaimer: I make no profit from this fanfiction set in DC Comics Justice League Dark franchise and I do not own DC Comics.

Title: May You Have Gnocchi From Your Children

Author: pronker

Setting: During some break from the Justice League Dark's interdimensional goings on, perhaps inside Zatanna's dreamscape sheltered by the World Tree when her fantasies about her love life became realized as much as fantasies can be.

Summary: A disturbance in interdimensional dynamics skews Zee's spell and John isn't completely unhappy about it; he just doesn't know how to take it.

A/N: Prompts from the ForceDAHTNET's Rom-Com OTP Challenge list: #8 Disturbance in the Force and #8 Co-Workers. This fic is unaffiliated with the list in every other way. Earth Day is also in here someplace, and this fic is very loosely affiliated with "That We Be Made Worthy" and "Ipso Psycho."

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"I've had enough gnocchi, ta - mmmmph!" The silver Montagnani fork floating in front of John skewered another dumpling and forced it past his lips. He chewed, swallowed and gulped down more Chianti from the Murano stemware glass.

In another minute he'd call the intensity of her gaze demonic. She sat opposite him at the massive Benetti's Italia dinner table that they had conjured in tandem. She looked hurt. "You don't like it."

"I do, I do like it, luv, I'm just full." He loosened the belt on his trenchcoat that she insisted he wear all the time. Really, in this dimension there had been no trouble for some months now so all the charms, sigils and magicks stashed inside his coat stayed where they were. He and Zee hadn't much to do except nest in the Tuscan bungalow they had magicked together quicker than Elsa had spun her mountain palace out of ice in Frozen. Although he'd like to wear a track suit once in a while, John succumbed to the allure of a novel experience and he was more than okay with nesting.

So was Zee until she got bored last week. She played with a Tradition spell and wouldn't you know it, NailatI em deef! that she meant to bring forth an Italian cookbook connecting her to her heritage turned her into a principessa who knew all the answers about cooking and everything else.

On one hand, John wasn't certain if she considered herself his innamorata, his signora, his mamma or his nonna because she acted these roles on differing occasions. The situation grew to beyond weird and he'd stayed strictly platonic for seven days now despite her come hither looks and alarming amount of eye shadow. On the other hand, her cooking proved delectable and he had never felt healthier.

He remained intrigued at these hidden sides to her and if it took keeping mum about her new volatility to continue to explore them, well he'd kept a secret for lesser reasons. Another secret was that a packet of unopened Silk Cuts rested in their toy box and he couldn't begin to plumb the reasons why he did not crave even a single puff of fine tobacco.

"Supper is off the charts, Zee, and I love it," he tried again.

"The gnocchi was dry." How anybody could get this worked up over pasta eluded him. Calm the waters, Johnny-O.

"It was m-moi-" - he started again - "it was not dry. It was fully hydrated, nice and sloppy!"

"You're just saying that." Yes, yes he was, and this was the perfect time to dissemble if ever he had. Good thing lying was his specialty.

"I'm not. I am in love with your cooking." One truth plus one lie balances the books, yeah?

"No you aren't, you hate it! I worked all afternoon - " Ah bollocks, not the waterworks again; he never knew what to do lately except hold her until the bathtub stopped overflowing. This time, though, she buried her face in her hands and sobbed piteously over her plate brimming with pasta, parmesan zucchini and some puce vegetable she was trying to get him to taste.

He rose to stand behind her, caressing her Versace'd shoulders. "All right, all right, all right, what's all this then? Are we getting confused about us because I think we're getting confused about us."

"N-N-N-N-"

"No? We're not getting confused? But I'm sure we are."

"Y-Y-Y- - "

"Which is it?" His hands slipped down her back, below the neckline of the dinner dress the catalog called Black Medusa. The clip gathering the front left side of the neckline proved to be gold-tone until he transmuted it into real twenty-four carat with an Alchemy incantation. She had seemed thrilled with his thoughtfulness. He was new to the living together full time thing and maybe got smug at his success with pleasing her, but hey, mages take one day at a time.

She leaned back into his hands that, in this extremity, weren't boycotting her body like they had been for one whole week. Shiatsu flowed from his fingers and she rolled her shoulders, tensions easing like snow melting from the Dolomites in April. He stood flatfooted on the travertine marble floor, rubbing, pressing and thumbing into nerve nodes. It was hypnotic and fully non-magical. It felt good to do this for her and to her: payback, in a way, for all she did that pleased him.

"Mmmmm," she moaned, followed by an "Ooooh," and four instances of "Yes, right there." John traced her spine as far as his hands could reach and when he could massage no further down without tearing her dress, he stopped.

"Keep going lower," she whispered. "I want you to."

Ahah. Huh. Well, then. He had permission. Too bad he had to lie again. "Not in the mood tonight, luv, 'kay?" Too indefinite, John, she'll be misled. "How about we watch the sunset from the porch swing and snuggle?" He had stuck to his guns choosing a porch swing despite its inclusion in the Rustic Americana section of the catalog; he felt his hackles rising at the memory of the not-argument they'd had over the issue.

She leaned her head back to trap his hands as they threatened retreat. He switched to strumming the cords in her neck and when she raised her teary eyes to his, he drowned in the weighty secrets clasped in them. He froze. Gobsmacked by her beauty, John, after all this time? You are no stranger to her and vice versa, so get a grip.

Muscle memory forced his fingers to recommence their slow circles. When she closed her eyes in bliss, he found his voice. "We're co-workers, in a way, yeah? Don't want to burn out our synergy, yeah?"

Uh oh, confusion crinkled her brow as she sat up straight and scooted her chair at right angles to the table. The silk of her dress rustled against the silk padding on what Benetti's Italia termed a Queen's Chair. "The friendzone ship sailed, John Constantine, eons ago on our Earth and I don't know how long ago in this dimension. What do you mean, caro?" Her eyes grew round at the term of endearment and she clapped her hands to her mouth before lowering them slowly.

He pulled up his King's Chair to abut hers. They sat knee to knee as John forced himself to adult the dickens out of this. "What I mean, luv, is that we've been all in all to each other for ages - "

"Months. It's been months."

"Yeah. And it's heavy to be that way for too long. I just clocked on to our proper need of other folk to, to vent to and rapport with. Magic makes life too easy sometimes, even here."

"You're tired of me?"

If he said yes, he'd be lying as much as if he said no. To answer the question required more adulting and that hurt. He must keep his eyes on the prize, which was her and always had been. "Never. I think we need a spot of work to do, though. I mean" - he pointed to their surroundings - "we've completed our nest."

Zatanna mopped away her smeared eye makeup with her napkin before replying. "Please, no demons to explode. Nothing requiring dimension hopping because I love what we've built together, John." She indicated the open window's view of a reflecting pool in front of their home and the forest beyond. Frog analogs native to this dimension croaked, cheeped and buzzed with the approaching dusk. The sun seemed to sit pricked by the trees in its usual way before descending. Rationally, John realized they had about one hour to resolve this before sunset and never go to bed angry was a motto Zee confided learning from her father about his relationship with her mother.

He had his mouth open to blat something off the cuff when she crooked her finger at him. He leaned in and she kissed his lower lip. "I see what you did there," she said.

"Eh? I'm sitting down talking to me own, cute kidda - "

Now she pinched his cheek like a nonna greeting the favorite grandchild. He shuddered.

"I mean, Giovanni, that is to say John, that you magicked me into a good cook and you are riding that wave right onto the beach, you conniver, you."

How wrong could one master magician get? How smug? "I did not, I swear. I might have enjoyed you a little more that way, but - "

She bumped her knee playfully against his. "I realized it and let you play along."

"Oh you did not. I know because you can't kid a kidder, Zee."

He discerned her Reach for a spell of Truthfulness and then her face fell. "What? You are right, you did not magick me more than you usually do with you just being you." She massaged her temples. "What went wrong? It's been so nice here in our home - "

Whatever himself being himself meant, he would parse later because it was not sound to see her stress as she realized that her simple spell for a cookbook backfired into a personality change. It was up to Johnny-O to fix it.

"Cross your legs, luv."

Now her face fell more. "Why?"

"Trust me, I've got a bang up conjure to work on you. See, I'll cross mine first." He did and she crossed hers. "Now put your foot that's on the floor through me legs." He scooted far forward on his own chair.

She slapped the hand that helped her position herself as she slid forward to perch on the edge of the seat, ruching up her dress. She gripped the arms of the chair for balance.

"Now I'll squeeze your leg." He tightened his thighs to secure her pose as his hands kept hold of the arms of his chair.

She cocked an ebony eyebrow at him. "Why didn't you tell me you wanted to play Twister?"

"Birds like you need right special treatment and this is me own cure for what ails you." He squeezed again and again before clamping down tight. "Feel that?"

"I do. Now what?"

"Lean forward and nick a ring box out of me left breast pocket with your teeth, yeah like that." Her hair draped over his lap as she nuzzled aside the lapels to his trenchcoat and he had to think of a nasty insult for Everton Football Club gits to keep up his concentration. He sighed in relief when she pulled back her head, the box gripped between her teeth and her lips enticingly circling the black velvet. She held up her hand to drop it into her palm and he hissed, "Don't use your hands! Terribly important!"

She breathed faster, the sparkle that he loved back in her eyes. "MoJnnnn," she mumbled or something like it.

"Lean forward - keep your hands on your chair! terribly important! - so I can open the box with me pearly whites."

She loomed bigger and bigger in his field of vision. It was just like the night when Darkseid played with the moon to take the mick with the whole world, on Earth Day yet, the sod.

As their noses bumped, Zee was still breathing hard from distress, poor darling. He must end this in good order. He'd miss her gourmet cooking, but oh well. There now, he jollied the box open to display its contents and signaling with his eyebrows that she was to release the box to his grip, he took it in his teeth.

Silly conjure, silly silly silly. He was making it up as he went along, but still.

She had closed her eyes for some reason, the dear. When she opened them to see what he had clenched between his teeth, her smile faltered. "What? I thought - "

He dropped the box into his hand. "Next step calls for hands, yeah? Give me your right hand."

"The right - okay. Here." Her coral nail polish would clash with the ring. Hmmm, best not fix it just yet. He placed the ring on her ring finger.

"It's quite large, Giovanni, I mean John." Her eyebrows crept towards her hairline. "It looks like a ring pop - oh you wouldn't give me a ring pop, it must have some other significance - wait. Wait."

Clever girl, she knew what it was, or had been. He'd help her along. "It's a Yellow Power Ring from that time I helped out your Justice League pals, Green Lantern and the other capes. I also helped out me own pal, Swamp Thing, but that's neither here nor there." He beamed. "Like it? It's smashing against your dress, yeah?"

Uh oh, she frowned. "Didn't you give this back to Lantern when all that finished up? Tell me you didn't steal it, please tell me that."

Damage control, he could do damage control. "Never!"

"I'm ... not sure I believe you."

"Sure, I might have gotten the idea to nick it in me conk, but I didn't. This is the conjure, luv. This will make you yourself again." Arrivederci, pasta Alfredo. Farewell, tiramisu. Farewell, zabaglione. Farewell, veal piccata. Ta-ra, puce vegetable.

She still appeared dubious. "Wish yourself back, Zee, just like Dorothy from Oz," he encouraged. "I believe in you."

Tears glistened in her eyes, oh let's not start that again, sweetness. "Carry on, I'm getting a cramp in me important muscles holding you so tight." He squeezed her leg for emphasis and winced for effect.

Could she? Would she? Ah yeah, here it comes. "Elohw em ekam," she said firmly.

Nothing happened, well nothing would show outwardly in such a conjure. She added even more firmly, "Elohw su ekam."

She undid her legs from his and stood up, swaying as she placed one hand on his shoulder. "My legs, I can't feel my legs, John."

He stood up, too, slapping her legs and then his. "I can't feel mine, either. Let's walk it off together."

They wobbled out their front door while they held hands, leaving food to cool on the table as the porch swing beckoned.

John never told Zee that the Yellow Power Ring he gave her was indeed one of the ones Lanterns mucked about with. It didn't really matter because it had not been charged with a Power Battery since that strange business ended and most likely would not work in this dimension, anyway.

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The End.

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