We All Scream

Summary:
June 29 2014: Illyana and Jericho have ice cream, follow up scene to Close Encounter

Ice Cream Parlor

33 Flavors of goodness. So glad for those extra two.


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:
[* None]


Cherries Jubilee. It's the rum flavor. It's one of Jericho's favorites. And who knew there were twenty four hour ice cream parlors in the city. Honestly, Jericho shouldn't be that surprised. This is the city that never sleeps, after all. People want ice cream and they don't care what hour it is. Some of them work nights. It makes sense.

The thing that doesn't make sense, or at least as much sense, is the girl… er… woman? Mmmmm, yes Woman. Young woman. The young woman in front of him. She doesn't make sense. At all. At least he knows how she's been getting to him. Though hell, or something that looks very much like it. He'd be lying if he said he wasn't a little rattled by the experience but… here they are… with Ice Cream…

*

Illyana's flavor of choice tonight? Pistachio Almond Fudge. Treats in hand they're sitting out on the outdoor seating. All of Illyana's favorite places to hang out have places where she can sit and watch people. Admittedly, at this time of night even in New York there's not a huge hustle-and-bustle. She looks out of place as well, in all that black leather. Licking her ice cream.

"You're quiet." She says, that almost mocking sort of humor underlying her tone. The way it always seems to be there, like everything is a joke that only she gets, makes it easy to think if she starts sounding serious, things have gone sideways. Those icy eyes, cold and hard despite the tone, slide over to him.

"You must have seen a lot." Vague, that.

*

"Mmmmm. Well I tend to get quiet when I'm thinking."

He looks over back to her. His own eyes are pensive and thoughtful. "Seen a lot… well yeah, though I suppose it depends on how you mean. A lot of 'action' as they say in the soldiering business. More than my fill, frankly. Though that trick you pulled to get us here was something entirely new."

His gaze is not hard, though his tone always edges on the snarky… well, mostly so anyway.

"You seem to have seen a lot too, though." He gestures to his eyes and then hers. "Something about the gaze. Common look to soldiers though you don't seem quite like that."

*

Illyana licks around the edge of her ice cream cone to keep any from dripping down onto her hand, skills honed by lots of practice. Ice cream. It's one of her vices. There's no flirtatious, seductive manner to it either. The ice cream is one thing, her conversation with Jericho completely separate. Both seem to get considerable amounts of her attention.

"I can teleport from here to there, and then from there to wherever I want. But I have to be there first. I couldn't always pull that trick. I ended up there when I was a kid. Like… six I guess. And I was trapped there until I was a teenager." She slants her gaze over at him again. That gaze that's seen too much that, if you look too long, seems empty of some vital human spark. "I didn't want to freak you out. I took you to the nice part." She doesn't seem to be joking.

*

That draws a raised eyebrow. "Really? That's the nice part, mmm?" She can see that he wonders and at the same time probably doesn't really want to know what the bad part is.

"Trapped there? That… can't have been pleasant. How did you end up there? Or… did you live there?"

Another lick of ice cream. He seems… sympathetic? Hell Afghanistan may not have been but it was plenty hellish and he was there as an adult. With a gun, and later, a polymorpher. "And how did you get out?" He shakes his head, imagining now what it would be like for a six year old girl to be stuck somewhere like that.

*

Illyana's gaze has moved off of him, watching people that few people that move about their daily lives. She doesn't answer his questions for a few long moments, and then with a faint sigh finally speaks.

"I was taken. Kidnapped by the demon lord that ruled it. He was trapped there, so he called it 'Limbo'. As good a name as any. It's… between places. Between times. He planned to use me to escape and unleash Hell on earth. With some help I got away at first. Lived in the Wildlands for a few years, but he caught me eventually. He taught me as his apprentice, and eventually I did what all good demon sorcerer apprentices do. I defeated my master."

She still doesn't look over at him, her attention having moved to her ice cream. Such an odd image, something so Heavy Metal with a childish treat.

"I got out because I'm a mutant. The teleporting, that's my mutant ability."

*

"Ah." That is… well, surprising but less surprising that he might be considering one of his closest friends is a hundred year old werewolf. "I see. I'm sorry that happened to you.

" Yeah, demon lord kidnapping a little girl. He may have been vaguely aware that magic existed but that's a lot out the things he'd even begun to consider.

Hrm… childish… that's not the first time he's seen her like that. Maybe that juxtaposition has something to do with growing up, essentially, under the tutelage of something inhuman.

"So you live there now? Is that because you want to or… some other reason?" In most classic fantasy the demonic is corruptive. Yeah it's a bit silly to be using stuff like 'The Lord of the Rings' as a basis for thinking about this kind of thing but it's really all he's got to go on right now.

*

"Well, I graduated so I can't stay at the dorms anymore." Illyana says, glancing over him with that wry twist to her tone again. But it's only there for that quick flash of a smirk.

"It's my home. I grew up there. But I try not to spend too much time there. So I have to find things to keep myself amused on this side." Most kids can't remember much before they were five or six, so all her formative years were spent in a Hell dimension. "You don't need to be sorry. It is what it is."

There's a low chuckle, those blue eyes fixing on him with an eerie intensity. "Are you wondering if I'm evil?"

*

"I'm fairly sure if you were you'd find better ways to amuse yourself than talking to me over ice cream." Another bite of the cone. "Really good ice cream, granted, but ice cream all the same."

He chuckles, his tone dry but his expression mildly amused. "No if you'd really like to know I'm wondering if the experience didn't alter you in manners aside from the obvious ones."

There's a short pause whilst a rum soaked cherry occupies the hacker's attention. "Not that it's really any of my business. Where'd you graduate from, if you don't mind my asking. I'm sure there's plenty of work to be done for a graduate even laying aside your… fairly unique talents.

*

Illyana tsks at him in disapproval. "I rule a Hell-realm, Jericho. Do you really think I could do that with a pure soul?"

The curiosity gets a slight shrug. "Alter from what I would have been otherwise? Of course. I'm from a farm in Siberia. I would have been very different. My entire worldview was shaped by growing up with demons. But I try to blend in. Try to remember how people here act."

If Illyana was more tech savvy, maybe she'd be more circumspect in who she gave information to. But that tends to be one of her blind spots.

"NYU." Another smirk his way. "Religious Studies. And I would probably make a poor employee. When you're used to running your own dimension taking orders from anyone just doesn't appeal all that much."

*

Another raised eyebrow and simply out of curiosity he does a casual network search for an Illyana who majored in Religious Studies at NYU and graduated in the last class. That should narrow the field down nicely.

"Run your own dimension?" He seems impressed. "Well there's a bit more to you than it seems at first."

It doesn't take long for the mischief to claw its way back into his mouth though. "So, like, should I call you 'your majesty' or something like that?" An impish grin follows as he peers at her over the top of his half-finished cone.

*

It's not a very common name. Just graduated this past May with honors, one Illyana Rasputin. The odd thing might be the lack of social media connection. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram.

"It's a small one. Not like the various Hells." She says with a shrug. "But it is filled with demons who have no good plans for Earth." She crunches a bite of her cone, chewing in silence for a bit.

The suggestion gets a dark chuckle. "Only if you're volunterring to be one of my subjects. Though really, even they don't call me that. That's a very… human idea of power."

*

"Let 'em know, if you could, that we're perfectly capable of screwing up Earth on our own, but thanks. And I'm probably not really good subject material. They didn't even like me that much in the Army."

Which only half true. Jericho was, not that he ever mentions this, a very good and fairly highly decorated soldier, but he also served for the last four years of his time there in a very independent sort of role.

Hrm, the lack of social media connection really does stand out, especially in today's age. He pulls the relevant files into his buffer and makes a note to do a full workup on her. It's a thing he does so regularly now it doesn't even stand out in his mind as fairly paranoid… which of course it is.

"So what do they call you down there? Er Up there? Whichever."

*

Given that she's shown a rather keen sense of survival so far, in how she kept her original distance and in making sure he didn't have an easy weapon to hand, the almost flippant manner in which she gives him information might be a bit odd. Well, there is that whole bit where she's just dropped in on him twice now. Of course, demons do have this thing about Pride…

"Yeah, we're good at screwing it up, but they don't get to have fun that way." Illyana points out. His 'protest' just gets a chuckle. "I wrangle demons. I think I could manage you."

The question of what she's called gets another one of those pauses. Like she's thinking how to answer. "A variety of things, actually. 'Boss', 'Mistress', 'Darkchilde'. Usually depends on how pissed I am with them."

*

Jericho grins as she explains further, taking another chomp out of his ice cream before answering. "Darkchilde? That sounds grandiose. And Mistress…?" He chuckles and shakes his head. "Well that's certainly… interesting." He says, drawing the last word out.

"Honestly though I'm not sure you'd like wrangling me that much. I'm not Limbo-broken… and my claws tend to need regular trimming."

A ping on his HUD turns into a small, very quiet alarm and for an instant he leans back in his chair, hand drifting toward the inside of his jacket - though only Illy is in a good position to see this - as he eyes a pair of pedestrians walking past.

*

"Well, that one's kind of a title. So makes sense it's grandiose hmm?" Illyana shrugs. "I didn't pick it."

His slow drawl on one of her *other* titles gets a smirk in return. And here she is, decked out in all that leather.

"Careful there." She advises with her own slow drawl. Her grin only stretches as he works on assuring her that she doesn't really want him. "Mmmm, I dunno. Now it's starting to sound like a challenge. Could be fun to try."

As he starts to reach into his jacket, her gaze tracks down to his hand, and then follows the line of his own as she liiiiicks. By all appearances, he's not about to draw down on her and so she keeps quiet.

*

For a moment his eyes are hard and cold, as they have not been since they started their conversation, but he's not looking at her, he's looking at the pair of college twentysomethings passing by. When they round the corner he seems to relax, letting out a slow breath as his hand moves away from his sidearm.

"Challenge, mmm? Well I guess you have to find something to occupy your time, right?" His impish grin comes back, though it's clear that he doesn't really think she's actually going to try to do anything beyond maybe give him another good scare some other time. If he hasn't bored her by now, that is.

*

Illyana finishes off her dairy treat, watching him watching them. She waits until he eases back before she speaks.

"Sooooo." She draws out the word. "Now you're going to tell me why you were about to shoot the nice college kids on the street." Her tone is light, not at all like he might have been about to kill someone right in front of her.

One day, perhaps sooner than he'd like, he'll learn not to wave a challenge in front of a demon queen. For just a moment, the blue of her eyes fades out, leaving her eyes a softly glowing pure white and her smile has ever-so-dainty pointed fangs.

*

Perhaps one day, though at the moment he hasn't. Her display of fangs and odd colored eyes does meet with a questioning look before he crunches up the last bit of waffle cone.

"They match the description of a pair of operatives I've been avoiding. Wasn't a one hundred percent positive match but near enough that I was getting a bit nervous when they came strolling this way. I'd rather not get into fights in public. Tends to make the police come sniffing around and I don't really need that either. Just another way for information to get back to them."

*

"I told you, you don't want me to 'show you mine'." Illyana replies to that questioning look. "It usually means the shit has hit the fan." Tossing her napkin away she stands up and waves him to sit down.

"Wait here. I need to get something before we go. You should tell me about how many people are chasing you." She suggests before sauntering back into the ice cream shop. She comes back out a bit later with… a bag with what looks like several quarts of ice cream.

*

He's stood up and brushed off the table by the time she comes back. "That's a lot of ice cream." He notes as she returns.

"To answer your question, I'm not really sure. A lot of them. The ones that get bold enough to try something have, so far, mostly wound up dead in one fashion or another, but I know there are others tracking me and I'm sure there's a fair few operatives and professional assassins interested in collecting on one of the various prices on my head.

*

"Oooo, there's money for you? Why didn't you say so? I have this whole thing with not being able to deal with a normal job."

Illyana says with a flash of wicked grin even as she reaches out to snag his arm with her free one, looping hers through it to pull him back towards the alleyway.

"I could always use some extra cash."

She doesn't stop walking, one of those two-dimensional disks of light opening on edge now, like some kind of Hobbit Door to Hell and she walks right through it with him in tow. It takes them back to Limbo, but not to the same place. Now, they're in a large room with a vaulted ceiling. If he's ever been in a castle, it looks a lot like a throne room. Complete with throne at one end and huge double doors at the far end. Except, this throne is made not of swords, like in a certain TV series, but bones. Some of which look decidedly human. The stone is a dark, soot-stained grey with pillars that climb upwards into shadow and if he can detect movement? There's a lot of it. Behind the pillars, up above in the shadows. Some of them resolve into form, as demons start to emerge from the stonework. Most would stand a bit shorter than a human, with emaciated bodies and elongated limbs. Fangs, claws, horns. Some are as small as cats but all look at him like they're starving and he's a feast. Illyana keeps walking towards the center of the room, bringing Jericho with her if he doesn't protest as the demons slink closer.

*

To be honest if she actually did decide to bring him in he's not entirely sure he could do anything about it… so he decides not to waste time feeling threatened or offended.

"Plenty of money. Several millions I think, though you don't need me for it per se. You could just rip the device out of me and bring my hand or ear or head or something. Proof of death is really all they want. Well, I take it back, they'd take me alive. I'm sure they'd have a very interesting time asking me all kinds of questions."

The demons, there's no question they make him tense, but he keeps walking, tugged along by the demon queen. She can hear a faint harmonic hum though, just under his skin. It's the sound of the polymorpher charging up, though there's no glow yet.

*

Illyana's arm linked through his also lets her feel it, and she glances down at his arm and then up to him with a raised brow. Finally she smirks. "Nervous?" It sounds a bit like a taunt.

The demons creep closer, most of them with heads down and eyes on the pair. Then, Jericho can feel the stone floor beneath his feet tremble. The doors are pushed open and a figure that's probably an easy seven feet strides in. He's huge, with clawed feet and thick tail, purple skin and a single horn that rises from his head.

He has a leather vest and loincloth, a smoldering cigar clamped between his teeth. "Yeahboss?" He asks in a deep, oddly accented voice as he strides over to Illyana.

The slight blond holds up the bag of ice cream, looking tiny next to the large demon. "Treats. If I find anyone on Earth that shouldn't be, I'll skin them." She says simply.

The large demon bows it's head slightly, glowing yellow eyes fixing on Jericho now. "And whaddabout him?" He gives Jericho a leering smile, licking his teeth.

Illyana pats Jericho's arm comfortingly. "Not on the menu." Her words hold an icy chill that cuts.

*

"Surrounded by otherworldy beings looking at me like a piece of prime rib." He says in a sotto voice as she leads him down the hall. "No, what's there to be at all nervous about?"

The demonic… butler… thing gets his attention real quick. Strange to hear it speaking English, if that's what he's hearing indeed. He's glad when Illy proclaims him off limits. It's possible that the polymorpher would make these things think twice, but he's really, really, really not eager to find out. It does make him wonder though, if folks have been on the menu before. At the moment… not wandering off seems like a good idea, so he's rather content, if content is the word for it, to let the Demon Queen lead him.

*

The tall purple demon's hungry gaze is brought back to Illyana, and it stoops a bit, ducking its head and shoulders as it takes a step back.

"Whatever ya say, bossbabe." As another disk opens beneath their feet, sliding upwards to teleport them away the demon starts to lumber away with the others swarming after it with rasping, hissing noises that almost seem like words. But then they slip away, making no sense whatsoever.

Without a bump, Illyana brings them back to the place he's staying at.

*

'Bossbabe.' That's… different. That actually gets Illy a glance and a quirked eyebrow. "Different ideas of power?" He says mildly, even smiling just a little instead of looking nervous. Then, in an eyeblink so far as he can tell they're back at the safe house. He lets out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.

"Well, that was the most interesting ice cream I've been out for in a long time."

*

"My critters have a sweet tooth. Keeping them focused on that instead of hoping to find people to eat lets me sleep a little better at night."

If only she didn't have that mocking sort of drawl as she said it. Makes it harder to tell if she's telling the truth, or just joking again. She does cut him a look as she lets his arm go and steps away though. "What they call me tends to be directly proportional to how much they like me." She gives a slight shrug. "It's complicated to explain."

*

"Hrm. I'm guessing he's perhaps more fond of you than others. Since you didn't skin him for the 'babe' part." It's deferential, he supposes… and complimentary in an odd kind of way. "So that was your home then?"

He rolls his shoulder and takes off his jacket, tossing it over the couch, then takes the pistol out of it's shoulder rig and puts it on the table.

"Looked very… ornate. Bit drafty though. I suppose certain styles of architecture are just de rigueur there?"

*

"Limbo isn't a place like you think of a place. It's shaped by its ruler. To some degree consciously and to a larger degree unconsciously. It's a reflection of their soul. It's nowhere and everywhere, nowhen and everywhen. I spent nearly a decade in Limbo. Minutes passed on Earth. You can walk in circles for days and never realize it, because the landscape will keep shifting. Changing. I grew up in the citadel, so it's a fixture in my mind. I can change it to some degree, but it tends to slide back to things I'm familiar with." Illyana says, making a slow tour around the room, picking things up and looking at them. It keeps her from having to look at him as she speaks.

*

'Huh' about adequately captures the look on his face. "I see. Interesting. So it looks as it does because you're used to it looking as it does. That's an odd sort of feedback loop." He sits down again, motioning for her to make herself comfortable, as if she was going to wait for his permission. "And you stay there rather than here because…?"

It's an honest question. He understands the draw of home, but being among so many inhuman things seems like it'd wear after a while.

*

Illyana gives him another smirk, cold eyes glinting at him. "Because the dorms kicked me out after I graduated." She reminds him, before shaking her head. "I told you, I'm not exactly cut out for your usual day job. No job means no money. No money means no rent."

*

Jericho folds his arms. "Ever considered bounty hunting? Not me, of course or I'd prefer not me anyway, but it seems like really that'd be the sort of thing you'd be very good at. Drop in on people, grab 'em, take them back to lockup. Even very well paid bounty hunters are less expensive than paying a skip's bond so…"

He regards her for a moment. "Well it's a thought anyway. I've done a surprising number of things to stay fed or stay afloat… granted I've also stolen a rather shocking amount of money from people who tried to kill me. Don't use much of it though. Hard to launder in ways that don't come back to bite me."

*

Illyana tilts her head to the side, thoughtfully. "I hadn't." She admits, and seems to take that suggestion seriously. She wouldn't even have to let them know she was a mutant if she popped in out of sight.

She quirks a brow upwards at that bit of information, a smirk curling her lips. "You have huh? And just what all have you done, Jericho?"

She seems to think this could be a *fascinating* subject. "In Limbo I don't have to worry about where my food or rent or clothes are coming from. Makes it a fair sight better than doing something boring or distasteful here." Yeah, boring ranks right up there with 'distasteful'.

*

"Me? Lot of stuff you'd probably find less than interesting. Piano, bar tending, mechanic, street magician. So long as it paid in cash. Having bank accounts is a no go for me right now. I start spending money wirelessly and it'll eventually be traced back to me. The folks looking for me are very very persistent. I'd bring in skips myself but I try to avoid law enforcement for the most part. Been burned too many times by folks passing information along that got back to them somehow."

*

For some reason that gets a laugh out of her. "Street magician? Really?" Illyana's stride brings her over towards him, sitting down on the coffee table in front of him and motions.

"Show me." He might have noticed. The woman doesn't seem to have the word 'please' in her vocabulary.

*

He has noticed that. It reminds him of another magical woman he knows. Though Illy swears less. And hasn't disemboweled anyone in front of him yet. And doesn't smell like cordite at odd hours of the night.

"Sure, why not?" He finds a deck of cards from among Parti's things and a couple of bladed coins that are about the right size and sits down opposite her to do a couple of tricks. It's the usual selection: Find the card in the deck, though he has a fun variation where he tosses the entire deck in the air and seemingly snatches the right card from the air. He's also really good at palming and misdirection, so the disappearing, reappearing coin tricks are pretty smooth. Possible that skill has had other applications since he seems… really practiced.

*

The smile that curves Illyana's lips may not be terribly big, but it doesn't have that mocking, sarcastic edge to it as she watches. She stops him a few times, making him repeat something, but she doesn't make him show her how it's done. Again, it's that glimpse into someone that seems much, much younger than the rest of her.

"How long did it take you to learn?"

*

"Oh a few months." He walks one of the bladed coins across his knuckles before he sets it down on the table.

"Granted that was doing it every day. And I was really lousy at first, but hunger is a good motivator. I still practice, pick up the occasional trick here or there. It's a good thing to fall back on when other jobs just aren't available."

And, you know, he doesn't want to risk laundering some money from the bank account of a deceased killer. Sometimes hunger isn't that motivating.

He watches her smile, a faint one on his lips for a moment, but he doesn't comment on it. "How I learned to do a lot of the things I know how to do now, actually. Either trial and error or helping someone out on the cheap to learn it."

*

"When I was young, I had a friend called Cat. She thought that the best way for me to face the demon lord was to know how to fight. She would make me run, all day. If I didn't, she would leave me behind for the monsters. Not getting eating is also a very good motivator."

Illyana says with an easy shrug. As if it's not a big deal that someone she calls 'friend' would leave her to die in such a terrible way when she was so very young.

*

"Nice friend you had there… though I guess you're still here and you don't seem to mad at her so…" Harsh training is not something Jericho is a stranger to. Infantry and Special Forces are not for the faint of heart nor weak of stomach after all. Still… "I suppose survival is a rather good motivator. Well, to a point. I found that after a while, simply living for another day of the same wasn't…" He pauses and shakes his head. "Well, need a reason to do it…"

*

"I had a reason." Illyana says with that serious tone that carries weight, because she's not treating it like a game or a joke. "Killing Belasco. Of course by the time he got ahold of me, survival wouldn't have been motivator enough anyway." She leans back away from him a bit then. "He wouldn't let me die."

*

"Belasco… That'd be your mentor. The one you defeated." How very Star Wars. "So I guess the question is are you Skywalker or Vader?" Er… ooops. He hadn't meant that to say that out loud. "Er… well, one question anyway." He shrugs with a wry look. "Not letting you die… he… tortured you, then?"

Seems properly demonic and she did say he was a demon lord. This woman is how old and been through how much now? The question's easy to read in his eyes as he watches her.

*

Illyana gives a nod to the observation, and then chuckles at the question.

"Probably depends on who you ask." She admits, not laying claim to either role. The question as to being tortured… she hitches a shoulder, leaning forward so her elbows rest on her knees, fingers laced loosely together. "I was punished, if I displeased him. And it didn't matter how badly, because he ruled Limbo and his word defined reality."

She tilts her head, meeting his eyes without flinching as she says it. No pain, no wincing, just those cold, empty eyes.

*

"Oooooh…" Jericho lets out a long, long sigh and shakes his head. His sympathy is quite genuine. "I'm quite sorry. Though it seems as if you came out… alright. Ish."

Ish is about the word. There's no denying she's not remotely normal but then again there are some pretty obvious reasons why she might be a little odd… He hasn't missed that there's not a whole lot going on behind her eyes. Well, there is, but it's not the usual things you see going on behind people's eyes.

*

"Don't." Illyana's words crack sharp as a whip. "Don't feel sorry for me. Life throws shit at all of us. We all have our pains and hardships. Mine are just different, that's all." Her mouth is set into a hard line. "My life isn't ruined. Not until I say it is."

*

Sore spot. He puts his hands up apologetically. "You're right, you're right. And I didn't mean to say ruined, but hey, I'd be inhuman if if the thought of someone going through that kind of crap didn't make me wince just a little." And he isn't… well by most definitions. The cybernetics thing can go either way. He takes a deep breath and rolls his shoulder.

"So…" His mouth quirks up a little. "What now?"

*

Illyana tilts her head forward a bit and then gives a slight nod. "I suppose you would." She admits. Be inhuman that is. She sits up straighter, and then stands.

"I should probably go." She smirks his way. "I've overshared enough tonight." Her head tilts over to the side a bit. "Do I need to wipe your memory now?"

*

At this point that just draws a laugh from the hacker. "Would there be anything I could do about it if you decided to do so?" He shakes his head.

"I'll leave that up to you. I may be really good at collecting secrets people don't want me to have, but I don't generally share them unless there's a very, very good reason to do so." Mostly he uses them to wreck networks and kill people, but he doesn't need to say that.

*

Illyana's lips curve upwards slightly again. "I figured as much. And no. Probably not. I can be very determined." She steps away, around his furniture. "And I have a lot of demons." She reminds him.

One of her glowing portals opens perpendicular to the ground and she steps through and is gone. Just like that. No goodbye, or see you later. All that's left of her visit is her empty vodka tumbler on the counter.


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