Close Encounter

Summary:
June 28 2014: Illyana checks in on Jericho Trent… in the shower… because she's bored

Partisan's Safe House

A converted taxicab headquarters building that now hosts all the comforts of home, if the comforts of home include mechanical workshops and an armory.


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:
[* None]


They often say investigatory work is dirty work, but they don't usually mean it quite so… literally. Jericho was quite sure he hadn't sweat so much in a non-combat situation in… well, it'd been a while. And he was sticky and filthy and the New York humidity wasn't at all helping. Fortunately, man has invented something for just this sort of thing. The shower! Long showers are kind of luxuries and having been in a scuffle or two, Jeri has decided that today is a long shower day. He's clean by this point and really just enjoying feeling his muscles relax under the stream of hot water. He doesn't sing in the shower… well, he does, but when he's relaxing like this. Hum a bit, maybe, but not sing. Mmmmm. Hot water. So nice.

*

Thing about showers is, that you close your eyes a lot. To keep the soap out. To keep the the water out. To just… enjoy the hot water. It also happens to be brightly lit. Which is perfect for people with light effects on their power.

Illyana's found a comfortable perch on the sink counter, backside on one end, feet on the other and leaning up against the outside wall. She's waiting, oh-so-patiently waiting as she watches the steamed glass. Chewing gum. Snap.

The blonde is wearing those leather boots she likes so much, that would cost most people a pretty penny with the detail worked into them. She's also wearing low-riding leather pants and matching top that has a high, Mandarin-style collar and long sleeves but leaves her midriff bare. Silver accents the outfit, a pervasive theme of skulls, pentagrams, chains and spikes.

*

Say what you will about him, at least he doesn't keep a lady waiting long. The water shuts off about five minutes after she arrives and, with an incredibly relaxed sigh, Jeri turns at opens the door.

And promptly yelps. He hadn't heard her approach and while he's being very careful (He's code in place to alert him if local traffic cams see anyone not matching Parti's description gets within a block of the safe house) it just doesn't matter when someone can teleport into the bathroom with you. There's a tensing of muscles that would probably lead to the reflexive drawing of a gun… if he had a gun. But he doesn't. Not in the shower.

"The… hell are… wait… you. How'd you get in here?" He says in the slightly breathless manner of someone whose heart has just tried to climb up his throat.

*

Illyana's chewing slooooows down as Jeri opens the door and her icy blue gaze slides down, as though the track of the water drew her attention downwards. It slides back up just as slowly, as casually, smirking as she watches him tense up.

"Well, at least you picked the right place." She drawls. One of her boots? Is resting on his towel. "It's cute how your voice goes up an octave like that." Yeah. That didn't answer his question at all.

*

One thing that's visible that wasn't before? The circuit like traces all over him. Chest, arms to the wrist, partly up the neck, down the legs to midway down the calf. Quarter inch thick and made of some kind of silvery material just beneath the skin, they're the same general pattern as the glow she saw on him when they first met.

Jericho's eyes travel to the towel that she's got covered. He doesn't just come out to get that because for starters that'd be a bit awkward and secondly he's not that much of a creep.

"Are you holding that hostage? Or did you just need a cushion?" She's close enough now that she can most definitely see the amber flecks in his otherwise grey eyes as they travel back up from her boot to her own eyes.

*

Those lines under his skin are of definite interest, and he can tell that by the way her gaze follows down one of his arms as well. Unless she's got a thing for hands. Who knows.

The question gets a low chuckle and she slowly lifts one of her feet, turning to sit more properly on the counter (if there's such a thing) and leans over to pick up the towel, tossing it towards him. "Doesn't look like you'd have much to barter for it with." She says in an almost mocking drawl.

*

A more cocky or confident man might protest. This is what's known as 'setting yourself up for it'. Instead he wraps the towel around his waist and shrugs.

"You'd not be alone in that opinion.”

Then, just because he's getting tired of standing in the shower itself, and maybe because he doesn't trust her not to reach over and try to turn it back on, he steps out and eyes her, taking in her choice of dress as well.

"Mmmm. Well you haven't tried to kill me yet, so that's always a good sign. Illyana, wasn't it?" Beat. "Got a thing for boots, don't you?" His voice is dry, and his expression still one of a man coming down from a really good scare and wondering why anyone at all was watching him shower.

*

Hey, she wasn't watching him *shower*. She was just… In the bathroom *while* he showered. Totally different thing. Really. His easy response gets a grin from the cold-eyed Illyana before she shrugs, stretching out one leg to wiggle her foot as she looks at her boot.

"They're good for kicking ass and taking names." Looking back up she gives him a nod. "Very good. Maybe I should give you a treat." Amusement glints in her eyes, like sunlight off of ice.

*

He actually does look at her foot and the detail work on the boot if only because it's not every day you see that kind of thing. He snorts and she sees his eyes glimmer with what was probably at one time a slight overabundance of humor and mischief.

"Treat huh?" He moves past her into the rest of the safe house. "You mean gracing me with your august presence isn't treat enough?" It's said dryly but not bitterly or angrily.

"Come on, you're here, I might as well offer you a drink… and find some pants."

*

Illyana hops off of the counter, the move oddly… childlike in that playful hop. But the slow saunter after him is very much not. "Take you out for ice cream. Pat your head and call you a good boy." He might have picked up that her tone is always sort of sarcastic. Mocking.

"You do that." Illyana says of his Quest for Pants, heading over towards the kitchenette area. "This isn't your place." It's hard to tell if she's guessing or if she Knows.

*

There's a faint smile, though she may not see it as he goes to the fridge and rummages about for a bottle of vodka and a couple tumblers. Returning to the living room he set's them down. "There. Try not to drink it all before I find some pants, mmm?"

He's starting to get that, the sarcasm. It's okay, really. Snark he can deal with. He kind of does it automatically when things take him off guard.

"Pet my head and call me a good boy eh? You've got some interesting taste in treats." It's enough to make him wonder if that's a reference to his 'wolfing out'. He wanders into a room and finds a pair of jeans. He's out of sight for the sake of not being a creeper but doesn't bother to close the door because honestly, that doesn't seem to do any good here.

"Or do you always talk like this to folks you pop in on in the shower?"

*

"Only if they're lucky." Illyana calls back, voice only raised so he can hear her. Sitting down she opens the bottle and pours a measure into both of the tumblers. She's not looking his way, her attention on the vodka. "And I said ice cream, not praise. You need to work harder for that." He can hear that smirk on her lips. "So tell me about the body decoration there."

*

Jericho comes back out, light blue jeans and in the process of tugging a plain grey short sleeve on.

"Well maybe I'll just have to work harder then. I'll consider it." He finds a comfortable seat and takes the tumbler closest to him, taking a sip.

"The traces? Oh you know, the usual markings for ex-special forces experimental weapons testers. All the rage in certain parts of Pakistan that I have never been to if asked in court." He shakes his head, canting it slightly. "Didn't really take back here though, I guess."

His eyes very briefly shift color, going from amber/grey to solid glowing red and back with a brief flicker of the lines on his neck, as he smirks and tosses her a wink.

*

"Don't ask me to show you mine." Illyana says as he flashes those glowing red eyes, smirking around her glass but something in her tone, something in the way that smirk doesn't touch her eyes gives hints that maybe she's serious.

Setting her tumbler down she slides slightly closer to him and gestures with one hand in a 'give' gesture at his arm. "They stick actual wires in you?" Like she has every right to know his secrets.

*

Jeri rolls his eyes and extends his left arm for her to examine. "Nah, not quite. Stuck stuff inside me and let it grow a network of rare trace metals under my skin. Fun stuff. I'm not a science guy so I can only give you the basics. I'm an expert in how it works and how to maintain and use it but 'why' it works? That takes a much smarter man than me."

That mischievous grin comes back. "Why? You want some?"

Since she was kind enough to slide closer he does take the time to examine her a bit more carefully. The last time he saw her they were both very carefully staying at greater than arms length. Plus she'd scared the crap out of him then to… and managed to catch him without a gun. The amount of time he spends in a day without a gun is relatively little so… that's a hell of a coincidence…

*

Illyana's attitude is very much like, well, she expected him to do just as she asked. Not like he's humoring her at all. She takes his hand, using it to turn his arm a bit so she can see the way the lines run under his skin. At the suggestion she wrinkles her nose a bit.

"Technology and me, we don't get along so well. So they didn't *stick* wires in you, they *grew* wires in you, huh? Magnets must be a bitch."

He can feel the calluses on her hands, proof that she does something manual with them. This close, he can see that while she's fairly slim, it's not *skinny*. There's a lot of defined muscle to her.

"You still on Uncle Sam's call list?" She says, glancing from his arm back up to his face as he examines her.

*

Examining him up close at the very least proves that he probably wasn't joking when he mentioned special forces. The guy is fit. Not buff, per se, but in extremely good condition. There are probably not many people who aren't major league professional athletes who do physically perform on Jericho's level.

"No, I retired four years ago. Wasn't supposed to keep the cyberware either." He gives her a wry half smirk. "Not that it was my idea."

His gaze travels to her hands. She doesn't really look like she should have those kinds of calluses. Almost the sort he'd expect to see from weapons use. Then again she doesn't look at first blush to be as fit as she clearly is on closer inspection.

"So to what do I owe the pleasure of a visit from the world’s most effective stalker?"

*

"You haven't met some of my friends." Illyana tells him as he credits her with World Class Stalking, letting his hand go and reaching for her drink again.

"Yeah, you graft something like that to someone, it's probably not gonna come out any way but messy." She notes as she leans back in her chair, crossing one leg over the other.

"As to my company?" Illyana gives him a slow smirk, cool blue eyes half-closing. "I was bored." If she's telling the truth, that means she probably didn't even put much effort into surprising him.

*

"You must have been really bored to look in on me. I'm not precisely inspiring." Jeri says, retrieving his arm and taking another drink before pouring them both a bit more.

"But you're a lot more polite than most of my house guests, so I don't suppose I can really complain, can I?"

There's a pause as he swirls the drink around in the tumbler, considering. "Yeah, might not come out clean. It's supposed to, but I've had it longer than twice the intended test period. No one really knows what it even should do having been in for this long. Not like I can pop by your friendly neighborhood cybernetics expert and ask, either.

There's a bit of silence as Jericho himself settles back in his seat and regards his very, very unusual houseguest.

*

Illyana hitches a shoulder at his accusation of boredom. "School's out for summer."

His comment about being polite gets a chuckle. "What, because I'm not trying to kill you? Corpses are *very* boring. Most of the time." She shares.

She looks consideringly at Jericho. "Would you *want* it out?" Her head tilts over to the side a bit as she watches him, shadows sliding behind the icy blue.

*

"Or burn my house down." He nods with a slight smile. "Last group I had over did that. Wild party, you know. Got out of hand." Actually it had nearly cost him his right arm and he'd barely escaped with his skin intact-ish.

Her question draws a thoughtful frown. "Kind of a complicated question. Would I want it out right now this second if I could? No, it's keeping me alive. If I got rid of it they'd still try to kill me and I'd be a hell of a lot easier to kill. Would I want to get rid of it if I could leave the whole mess behind and just be a normal person again?" There's another long pause. "I'm not sure to be honest."

His eyes flick up. "Would you? If you were in a… similar situation and you had a way out, would you take it?"

*

For a moment, her gaze seems to shift to a deep cobalt blue, so deep are those shadows. The teasing, the humor slides away, leaving a very grim seriousness. "Like you said. Complicated."

Illyana takes a deep swallow, quiet for a long, long moment before she speaks again. "It's not just about me being 'normal'. It affects… other things. And I've already had my second chance at normal."

Her gaze is fixed on her glass now. On that clear liquid. Great. Doesn't he know you shouldn't give a Russian a reason to brood?

*

Jericho's not sure what answer he was expecting, but when he hears it, he just nods and watches Illy for a long moment under pensive, half lidded eyes before taking a deep breath.

"Then you understand. Much as I'd like my life back, it affects other things. Much as I hate going through my days digging up new reasons to be shot at, some people count on me doing what I do." Another sip of vodka, savored for a long moment. "Though that's a fairly recent development, I'll grant you." He's seen plenty of brooding before, usually in bars. Those folks though don't usually look quite like that. That's Olympic level brooding. He can get close, sometimes, but he does wonder what it is she broods about.

*

Russians make an art of it. All the sarcasm and mocking helps keep those dark moods at bay, and he can see her consciously push it off a bit, bringing her attention back up to him.

"I ask because I could probably pull it out of you. But I don't know much about it. How much of a burden it is for you."

*

"It can quite fairly be said to have ruined my life. But at the moment it's a tool keeping me and a few other people alive. Like Nancy. So far as I know I'm the only one with both the ability and the willingness to pull these people off her." He grimaces. "Same folks who want me dead want her… well, at best they want her in a lab for the rest of her life. At worst they want to use her as a weapon. And that pisses me off. She's a friend and even if she wasn't no one deserves that…" He shrugs and sighs a long, expansive sigh before downing his tumbler in one drink. "And I can't stop until I've accomplished that, at least."

*

Illyana makes a gesture with one hand, long fingers curling inwards. "Realize that I haven't researched your life. Tell me what it's done." The mention of Nancy doesn't get much of a reaction from her, not worry or disdain or… anything.

"Friends are important." She agrees, reaching for the bottle to add to his glass.

*

There's another long moment of silence and if he seems to be evaluating her, it's because he is. Showing her something she'd seen when she surprised him in the shower is one thing. Telling her the details is another. He does after about ten seconds come to the conclusion that if she'd wanted to hurt him, she could have done so by now.

"Fair enough." He pauses to let her refill his tumbler.

"Yeah, friends are. So the highlights run like this: The thing inside me is a weapon system that projects power fields to do, well almost anything you can imagine within a few limits. I was part of a twelve man test team back in my Army days. Program ended and I got out round about the same time. I was supposed to undergo a procedure to remove it. I thought I had but instead it'd just been tampered with to hide and disable it until someone could come collect me… and rip it out of my to study it.

He takes a drink and pauses a moment to collect his thoughts. "Hydra, I learned later. Anyway, they made their move last year. I'd been out for three at the time. Guess they figured that was enough time that folks would notice less if I went missing. I managed to avoid their first snatch on me and get the damn thing half working. That was about a year ago. I've been playing cat and mouse with them ever since. They put me on terrorist watch lists, sic police on me, send contract killers to kidnap or kill me, and I disrupt their networks wherever I can and try to figure out which of their damned cells is targeting me so I can shut them down for good. Or failing that, drop off their radar. Somehow."

*

Illyana traces the rim of her glass with one fingertip as she watches him thoughtfully. "So even if you got rid of it now, they'd probably kill you because you know too much *and* you give up your only advantage against them." She lifts up her tumbler but doesn't actually take another drink.

"You'd have to be able to turn back time at this point." A pause and then she gives a huff of bitter amusement. "And trust me, time's not something you wanna play with."

*

There's a hint of curiosity in his gaze, but he doesn't ask. Maybe some other time. If there is another time. "I'll take your word on that. I'll be honest, I don't know how it's gonna work out for me. But if I can make it work out for someone else? Maybe it's worth it in some measure then."

Then he chuckles and laughs, shaking his head. "Man that sounds cheesy. You get the idea though right? If you had to deal with something that sucked, but you could spare a friend, doesn't that make up for it somehow?"

Without waiting for her answer he takes another sip of his vodka. He probably should lay off at some point. "So, did I earn that ice cream yet?" He says, his temporarily suppressed snark resurfacing.

*

Illyana's quiet, serious mien as she listens is broken in a short, sharp huff and a slow smirk. "You might want to get a jacket to cover your gun if I'm taking you out for ice cream." She notes, her gaze resting on him with that deceptively lazy, half-lidded look.

*

"Do you usually go out for ice cream armed?" He laughs as he stands and pulls a light coat from the back of a chair. Okay… he does, but then he does almost everything armed. Except shower. And he'd reconsider his stance on that if he could figure out a way that it'd be okay to have a gun in there. Sadly, that just seems like asking for more trouble than it's likely worth. He's only met two teleporters and neither of them have tried to kill him… or dump him in Siberia.

*

"Depends what you consider armed. And I get the feeling that you like to be armed all the time." Hence Illyana picking a time she knew he'd be *un*armed. The blonde rises up to her feet, moving into the middle of the room as she waits for him to gather his coat. That slow smirk of hers comes back and suddenly a circle of light opens beneath their feet, the edges limned in silver eldrich fire. The circle rises upwards, the event horizon giving nothing away as to what lies beyond. There's a slight tingle as it passes upwards and then… they're elsewhere.

It's a blasted landscape, fully of rough rocky outcroppings and twisted shrubs. Small creatures scrabble for cover as they appear, things that don't quite look… right and there's something about the place that tends to crawl up the back of people's necks, something that tells the most primal part of them that they're somewhere they shouldn't be. In the distance are mountains, the silhouette broken by a castle that claws upwards to a blood-red sky without moon or stars. In the distance comes the roar of something… big.

*

A cool customer Jericho may be but sudden transdimensional relocation is not something one simply brushes off. Unless one is Agent May. Which, wait better check… nope, he's not. She can see him tense and his hand goes for his sidearm but he doesn't draw. There's no internet down here, naturally, so he's not quite sure where he is, though he highly suspects not Kansas. His eyes cut over to her at the roar, the silent question in them being 'Is that a problem I need to worry about?' or 'You're enjoying this, aren't you?'. It could go either way really. Hey, on the bright side… at least he's clothed.

*

No internet. No radio waves. To television waves. Nothing like that. At all. Not even the buzz of electrical lines. "Ah c'mon. If I wanted to amuse myself at seeing you try to survive I would have dumped you here from your shower. Don't worry, we're only visiting."

Her hands raise a bit, palms down and another circle appears below them, moving upwards again. From the direction of that roar he can see a huge, lumbering shape starting to climb over the rocky outcroppings. It looks like a cross between a lizard and a dragon and a demon. It gives another shrieking roar, picking up its pace as it runs towards them but it's not that fast. When Jericho can see again, they're in… an alley. Illyana starts to walk forward.

"C'mon. I love this place."


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