Workplace Tensions

July 15 2014: Illyana drops by Jericho's 'work' and witnesses the second attempt on his life in two days.

Midtown East, not too far from the Stark Tower

A very nice business district full of high rises and trendy places to eat.



  • Hired Hitmen
  • Lots of Demons

Mood Music:
[* None]

It's late; late enough that there's now that there's few people out and about. Jericho is in a business district leaning in an alley watching people come and go from a nice, expensive looking high rise office building. Luckily, he doesn't have to go inside… well, probably. There's a few servers in there he needs to get a look at and if he can't break in the network, which is suspiciously well protected. He sighs. He's been having a lot of fun and relaxation but there are things that have to be taken care of. Nancy needs his help and this mutant WMD thing won't go away without him.


"Ew. Really?" Illyana's sigh is hard to mistake. That mix of annoyance and haughty attitude.

"I don't even want to know what's on my boots now." One day, she's going to teleport in where he can see her arrive. Instead of constantly showing up behind him. She is indeed wearing her usual boots, jeans and tank top. A length of chain threads through her belt loops and leather cuffs encircle her wrists.


There's that jump and the tensing and the reaching for the gun before… oh… "Yah… Illyana. You scared the crap out of me…"

It's a mostly clean alley." Jericho says with a chuckle turning to look at her. New wardrobe again though very Illy, from what he's seen before.

"Decided to look in on me at work, did you? Alleys are good for work. People don't pay attention to people in alleys…"

He's wearing rather plain jeans, a grey hoodie and a tee shirt underneath. Nice enough for most places but enough to look a bit low class in this exalted part of town. He wants people to overlook him. Well, he did. Illyana just arrived and no one overlooks her, so he's not emoting boring as he usually does at work.


Illyana comes up behind Jericho, leaning to the side a bit to see around him at whatever it is that has his attention. It does mean that she isn't really seen. Just the flash of her hair. "I dunno. Guy sneaking around in an alley? It'd get my attention…"

Her hands slide under the edge of his hoodie, fingertips sliding under the hem of his T-shirt to scrape the tip of her nails against his back just above his waistband. "So. What are we watching?" Apparently it's 'us' now.


His breath catches for just a moment, not having expected the scratch. She can hear, if not see thanks to the hoodie, the traces thrum with power as they typically do when she touches them.

"That office building over there. I'm waiting for it to empty out and making note of who comes and goes."

'We' are indeed watching them now, there being two of us. Though that's curious to him, a bit. She's never popped in on him before when he was 'working' and he knows she can see what he's up to before she does. This can't have looked like the world's most interesting project. "I think the computers there have secrets they should perhaps not."


Illyana's fingertips tease the skin against his lower back, finding the lines of the traces without being able to see them and tracing the lines upwards a few inches, before following them back down. "You and your computers." She says with that mix of amusement and disdain.

"What does it matter who leaves, if they won't be there when you go in?" This isn't the sort of stuff that Illyana typically does, even when she helps out the X-Men and so that makes it curious, if not interesting. Also, distracting Jericho seems to be a fun game.


The street is almost entirely deserted now. The building seems to be locking up for the night. "I'm matching who I see to lists of people I know or suspect are up to no good. Most of them are just… you know… corporate peons…" Illyana can tell by the way Jericho's talking that she's got him quite distracted, between the fingertips on his traces and the demonic bleeding through on his vision, it's no real wonder.

The hacker glances over his shoulder at her briefly, a familiar mischievous grin on his face. "Though now a couple of them have names in demonic… which is probably fitting, to be honest."


Illyana gives a low chuckle and then looks thoughtful. Her hands pull away and she digs her phone out of her jacket.

"Can you put what you're seeing on my screen? Like the cat videos?" She does watch movies, which means she has some idea of what tech can do. Of course, it's movies. Which means a lot of it is really unrealistic. He noticed, way back when he first started looking into her that lack of social media footprint and since then, he's learned she's not terribly tech savvy.


There's a lot movie tech can do that real tech can't or at least not without a lot of difficulty. However a live video stream to a phone is something folks do all the time. Sure, the 'camera' is in his eyes and the interface isn't quite designed to do that but…..

"Yeah… never thought much about it but I can. One sec…"

Jericho doesn't appear to be doing much of anything but a moment later the video chat app on her phone opens up and she can see… well he's still looking over her shoulder at her, so she can see herself. There's a small feed of text information in the lower right hand corner of the screen, he's got a google image results window shoved off to the right side, apparently he was doing facial recognition, and there's a row of demonic characters scrolling down both sides of his vision saying really strange things like 'Capacity at 2%' and 'Storage functions enabled' and, under the picture of one particular face he was looking at 'corruption probability 57%'.


The phone's screen is a lot smaller than Illyana's used to looking at things, she's not one of the people constantly using it for texting or emails or watching video so she has to bring it pretty close and squint at it to make out the small characters. It's not a perfect solution but it's something.


Does that sound ominous? It really should.


It does. And he's about to ask what exactly 'huh' means when his eyes suddenly widen. There's a little icon - a red triangle with an exclamation point in the middle - that abruptly started flashing down in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

Jericho reacts immediately. One arm sweeps out as he spins, hooking Illyana around the shoulders and simultaneously attempting to pull her down and further into the alley. Fractions of a second later a bullet passes through where both of their heads were and makes a good sized hole in the brickwork behind them. Weapons fire rings out from several points, sparks and bits of building flying up as rounds miss.


Illyana's lips part to ask what the blinky triangle is, because someone doesn't play video games either, when he's grabbing her and shuffling her deeper down the alleyway.

"By the Abyss!" Illyana says her tone hot and pissed off and surprised, but distinctly lacking the notes of panic that smart people have when they're shot at.


Out comes a small, boxy little SMG from under the hoodie. Jericho hasn't shut down the link to her phone, so she can see him opens up several views of nearby traffic cameras and CCTV cams to get a more informed view of their attackers. There are seven, all with fairly powerful looking rifles. One comes into actual view on a rooftop that looks down the alley. Jeri snaps a burst off that seems to hit him. Now there are six.

"Okay, they're herding us toward the back of the alley and I have no idea why. Time to go."

Out come Jericho's wings and he gives Illyana an apologetic look as he grabs her arm and vaults for the rooftop just above them, a solid three stories. Yes she has portals but he honestly doesn't even think about it and even if he had, leaving her in the alley wouldn't have felt right.


Illyana is admittedly a bit distracted away from her phone. She's managed not to drop the thing however. There is a big upside to Illyana's growing up at Xavier's. Suddenly being picked up and launching into the air? One of those things that you learn to roll with. One of her feet comes down on top of his so that all of her weight isn't held on her arm as she turns into him and swings her other arm around his neck so she can see behind him.

"Higher. I need to see. Then drop me." Illyana says with the cool calm but decisiveness that comes from being in battle after battle. Her blue gaze cuts back to him briefly and she smirks at him. "Don't get shot."


That is a very unusual way of bracing on someone who is flying but now's not the time to comment on it. "That is the idea." He murmurs a bit distractedly, concentrating on the muzzle flashes in front of him as the shooters that drove them into the alley track up. Rather than stop at the roof Jericho keeps going, as requested.

They find out a moment later why the attack was trying to flush them out the back of the alley. Illyana can see a sniper with a very large rifle tracking them upward. The moment Jericho levels off, at about twelve stories now, and lets go of Illyana to drop her, the sniper fires."


Illyana's eyes widen as she spots the sniper's rifle tracking them, about to say something when Jericho levels off and lets her go. "No!" Comes her cry, but it's not about him dropping her. As she drops away he can see her gaze fixed at a point past him. She throws up a hand, a portal opening between Jericho and the sniper but it could already be well too late. She falls, blue eyes swinging towards Jericho in almost slow motion to see if he's hit before a disk opens beneath her and swallows her in an instant.


As Illyana falls she can see Jericho turn in midair, tracking to where her eyes were when she yelled. The portal she opened swallows a large caliber bullet before - if she could know - it tore his spine in half. Eyes wide he tucks his wings in and drops to get out of the line of sight. As the disk beneath her swallows her, she can see his bullets from the other guns in play spark off his wings, hear the large sniper rifle fire a second time… and then Illyana is in Limbo.


It's a second. Less than a heartbeat. The disk of light disappears below him and another opens behind the sniper. But what steps through isn't Illyana. It's the Darkchilde. And she's not alone.

The stepping disk opens wide, more than a dozen feet in diameter as hooved feet hit the pebble-strewn roofing. Her eyes blaze hot white with power and in one hand is an axe, because the threats she's dealing with aren't magical. A moment later demons spill like water from the smooth event horizon of the stepping disk and as she walks forward they roll forward like a wave, leaping for the sniper with teeth and claws.


Portaling mutants are something the sniper was trained to deal with. Summoned demons, not so much. Demon queens with axes? Definitely not in the skill list. Clever enough to instantly drop the rifle, the sniper draws a knife, looking terrified as she backs. She's gonna run out of roof very, very quickly.

One roof and several stories below her, the Darkchilde may pick up if she's not otherwise too occupied, short little staccato bursts of fire, very different from the deep throated longer ones from the hit men’s’ weaponry. Those louder ones occasionally abruptly cut off, and when they resume, there tends to be one less.


The demons don't seem too worried about the knife, and the Darkchilde's expression doesn't waver. Cold. Pitiless. No compassion. No mercy.

"Bring me her head." She says, bearing her fangs at the other woman. "Keep the rest."

Hissing gleefully, the demons leap for the sniper, coming at her from multiple sides as the Darkchilde turns and continues to walk towards the sound of that gunfire and jumps off the edge of the roof to the one below. Not a feat that Illyana would do, but something the Darkchilde can manage without a problem.

BOOM. There is the sound of hooves hitting the roof's surface, the knees of those digitigrade legs flexing as she lands before she slowly rises back to her full height.


There are three left out of the seven, well, eight original attackers. Jericho hasn't bothered to wolf out, primarily because if he did his hands would be too big to use his small gun. Instead he's using his wings as both mobility and cover as he trades shots with the three remaining rifle armed assassins.

The sudden boom behind him causes him to spin in alarm, but the weapon doesn't even finish tracking with him before he recognizes the Darkchilde. His traces are bright amber now and his eyes solid orbs of the same, but the Darkchilde can see them widen slightly. He hadn't expected this. Then bullet strikes kick up around her hooves and he turns back to put the offender under fire, enough to make him duck again.

"Careful, I'm not sure guns are all they're packing." He calls out."


There's a terrible, terrible scream above, and then blood falls like a warm rain. It paints the Darkchilde's skin in spots and smears, adds red streaks to that golden blonde hair. Then something is falling, landing with a *thud* at the demon queen's feet. It bounces once and then rolls awkwardly around. Looks like Illyana got her head.

The bullets tear into the roofing membrane, and the Darkchilde takes one step back. Then two. Then a roar and with one arm she throws that large axe in the direction of the shooter's cover where it tears into it like a wrecking ball.

From above, some of the demons leap down as well. Some have wings and others just make the jump, like their queen did. A dark red smear works its way down the side of the building as blood spills over the edge.


Jericho gives her a very impressed looking glance over his shoulder. Breaking cover he takes the distance been the roof and the nearest one across the street in one wing assisted leap. The Darkchilde can see him just spray one of the two remaining shooters with most of what's left of his magazine. The last one pops back out of cover and aims what might be a large bore hunting rifle, not an automatic one, right between the Illyana's horns.


Illyana's now-free hand comes up as the last shooter is bringing that rifle up, and a stepping disk opens before her like a shield. Another opens behind the shooter, so that anything that goes into the 'shield', will come out at the shooter's back.


Jericho is about to object to the gun pointed at Illyana, rather violently, when the rifle goes off… and the round buries itself in a rather fatal place in the shooter. After taking just a moment to make sure there are no more threats, Jericho returns over to Illyana's side of the street. He doesn't quite dismiss his wings yet. They may, after all need them to get down, but he does put his gun away. The street is still deserted and the fight lasted all of about forty five seconds, but it's still likely that someone heard all the noise and someone may at some point show up to have a look.

As the hacker walks back over, Illy can see he has a couple of feedback burns, and there's bloody spot on his left arm, accompanied by a tear in both the hoodie and the tee underneath where the sniper rifle winged him.

"You okay?" Is the first thing he says once he gets close enough that he doesn't have to shout to be heard.


The portals wink out as the shooter drops to the rooftop in a heap. The Darkchilde turns to look at Jericho as he comes over; those white eyes a wasteland of emotion save for anger. Rage. The demons cluster closer around her, watching Jericho with narrowed eyes and low hissing sounds.

"I wasn't the target." She answers, glancing down and making a dismissive motion with one hand. The demons skitter back away, bellies low to the ground as she steps towards him on cloven hooves.

"Their mistake."

Her attention comes back up to him as she reaches out to stroke one of those feedback burns with a clawed thumb. "You're hurt." She murmurs.


Jericho's derisive snort tells the Darkchilde that he agrees with her assessment. Their mistake. Fortunately these do not appear to have been especially bright, nor especially well trained assassins.
"I'm okay." He says quietly. "Not even properly shot. Pretty good by my standards."

Okay, the feedback burns do hurt, quite a bit, and worry him quite a bit more since they're not supposed to happen. That the system is getting integrated enough with his body to give him burns when the power fields get strained is something that's getting higher on his list of things that he needs answers for. Oh, getting winged by a rifle meant to puncture car engine blocks hurts too, but not as much as if the sniper had hit.

"You saved me the really bad one that had my name on it, so thank you." His head tilts slightly to the side as the Darkchilde examines the burn under his jaw. The traces light up brighter than usual on his neck, a few inches below her thumb.


The long, spade-tipped tail lashes behind the demonic incarnation of Illyana at the reminder of the sniper, her lip curling back slightly with a low, almost subsonic growl that shouldn't come from a human throat.

Her touch slips lower, the tip of that curved claw on her thumb scraping lightly along his jaw, and then along the soft, tender column of his throat as her thumb slips over the brightly lit traces, the other fingers of her hand curling around the side and back of his neck.

Her thumb rests there, over his pulse for several heartbeats before she finally lets her hand drop away. "Come. We'll get you cleaned up." She raises her hands and the demons flock closer, those that were still on the rooftop above leaping down to join them. The sinewy bodies brush against Jericho's legs as they pull in close and then a stepping disk sweeps them all away to Limbo.


There is, once again for Jericho, that increasingly familiar disorientation of being in a place with no kind of background radio signals. Fortunately, he's expecting it this time so it doesn't really throw him. The demonic bodies around his legs… that takes a little bit more getting used to, especially with the distinct impression that they'd happily strip meat from bone if Illyana told them to.

The adrenalin from the fight set his pulse racing and the hand on his neck meant that it didn't exactly slow back down when the fight was over, something Illyana could feel quite easily with a thumb on his neck. Jericho does remember their conversation about pain… but the fact is that he trusts Illyana at this point enough that even with the Darkchilde out to play, worry isn't high on the list of things he's feeling. Curiosity and a brief flash of nervousness as the flicking tail draws his eye before the transition to Limbo occupies his attention, but not worry.

"Sure, I'd appreciate that, Illyana. Thanks." He says quietly.


Arriving at the citadel in Limbo, the demons circle around the pair of them a moment and then slink off. One of them looks like it brought something back with it, and another takes an interest in it. A sudden snarling fight breaks out, the pair disappearing into a ball of tooth and claws.

When Jericho calls her by name, there's something… Like a faint shiver, and then the demonic attributes melt away like smoke leaving Illyana in her earlier attire. She wipes at her face with the back of one hand, which smears some of the tacky drops of blood across her face and she grimaces. "Ugh." Tone somewhat subdued, she starts down a hallway. "Come on."

They head down long, winding hallways lit only by guttering torches and down, down, down steep sets of steps. Eventually they arrive at a pair of wooden doors bound in metal that Illyana pushes open and inside is a cave with a series of large pools with steam rising off of the surface.


The snarling fight over what Jericho presumes to be the head of the fallen sniper, he didn't actually look that closely before Illyana started moving, makes him roll his eyes and smirk a little. Of course. Abode of demons. It's almost funny, really, the way you can call and predict how they'll react on some things. Sharing, he's going to go out on a limb and guess, is not a thing.

The trip through the castle corridors gives him opportunity to wonder about a few things, like what that… gesture or shiver was just before she dropped out of her other form and - among other things - how big this place is anyway? Actual castles, he knows, housed quarters and workshops and craftsmen and so forth. This one? He's got no clue. Well, until she stops at the large double doors deep within the bowels of the place. Steam pools. His eyebrows go up a little as he follows Illyana inside. He'd never have guessed though thinking about it now it makes perfect sense."


Illyana did *live* here for nearly a decade and given that she usually smells OK, bathing seems to be part of her daily regimen. Of course, one doesn't get the feeling that it gets a lot of use *outside* of Illyana.

There are worn steps that lead into the largest pool and shelves worked into the stone that hold towels and unlabeled bottles, most that look like they should be in antique shops. She glances over at him as he stands there, looking around.

"Well? Shirt off. I want to see where you got hit." Glass clinks as she roots around the bottles and jars, pulling a few out.


Jeri quirks an eyebrow at Illyana, but confines his instinct to tease to a brief look, since, really what she's asking is quite sensible. The grey hoodie comes off followed by a black tee shirt that, the back of which tells anyone reading it to 'Ranger Up'. Under that? Well it's not as bad as it's ever been, though Jericho can't off the top of his head recall if Illy knows that. The last time she'd seen him injured it was just feedback burns and bruises and most of those were under a shirt that he had not taken off.

There's the half inch wide groove in his bicep from getting winged by a very large bullet that seems to be part cut and part burn. Then there's feedback on his chest, flank and, most notably, shoulder blades from using his wings to stop armor penetrating bullet strikes. The one burn under his jaw and a good bruise on his left side (that one his fault from an exuberant dive for cover after he'd made the relative safety of the rooftop Illy found him on) round out the list of injuries. There are, thankfully, no actual bullet strikes aside from the one on his right arm and a through and through that went through the meat under right shoulder joint. Both painful but not seriously debilitating.


Illyana raises both brows at him in return and deadpans, "If you recall, I *have* seen the full Monty."

The dry teasing gives way to narrowed eyes and a clenched jaw as she sees the damage done to him. No, nothing serious but it still pisses her off. "I should be able to close them enough that we won't have to stitch you up, but they'll be delicate. Don't think they can stand up to anything strenuous."

She makes a motion with her free hand and a bench rises up through the stone as if it were liquid and not solid rock. "Sit." She instructs, setting a few of the bottles down and unscrews a jar. Once he's sitting, she dips her fingers into the herbal-smelling stuff and smears it on his bicep first. Her eyes close briefly and she murmurs, the White magic likely lighting up Jericho's HUD again as she activates the salve which instantly numbs the area and the skin starts to creep closed. It's only a surface healing, the deeper injury will take more time to heal. Then she shifts positions so she can touch the other bleeding wound under his shoulder. It gives her a good look at his back and the feedback burns there.

"Your… what do you call them? cybernetics?" That's what they call it on TV, right? "They're burning you up."


Jericho sighs. "Yeah. They are. That's a new thing." He winces a bit as one of them throbs. "Within the last couple of months. Every time a field gets seriously stressed it sends feedback along my traces. Sometimes it burns or bruises me. Just started a couple of months ago and I have absolutely no idea why."

He glances back, eyes grateful as the salve and white magic relieve the pain.


"Is it getting progressively worse?" Illyana asks her tone even, almost clinical. With the actual wounds taken care of she recaps the jar without putting any on the bruises and burns. "Remember. Gently." She says, stressing it again. Because men can be so damned pig headed about such things. She gestures towards the steaming water with her chin. "In."


Another sigh, as Jericho considers something he'd been actively not thinking about until other things could be dealt with. "Might be. The burns haven't gotten any more severe since they started, but the fact that they happen at all…" He just trails off and looks back at Illyana, then to the water then, back to Illyana.

"Hope you don't mind if I undress… rather not walk around Limbo later with wet pants." As she's pointed out it's nothing she hasn't seen before but it's still a bit odd and he doesn't want to offend her. He doesn't think he will, honestly, best to ask these things. Even so he's already moving toward the water, after setting his shirt and hoodie somewhere that they won't get wet. As he does his traces light up again, bright emerald green this time, the power field now doing what it can to speed up natural healing. It still takes quite a while by metahuman standards, but it's better than nothing.


Illyana smirks as he comments about her minding, just arching a brow at him in reply. She doesn't bother to remind him that she could just magic his clothes dry. Or y'know, make him new ones. She does actually turn where she's sitting on the bench, to give him her back as he undresses and gets into the water. Guess he's earned some measure of privacy.

"Well, if it's not getting any worse… Seems like something happened though, because there's the burns and also that it's responding to magic, right? You should try to isolate the timeframe when it started responding differently." Despite the trolling and the disdain of technology, Illyana has a keen mind.


Once the clothes situation has been properly dealt with Jericho slides into the hot water with what sounds an awful lot like a sigh of relief. "Two months ago give or take, for the feedback to start showing up in a big way. Before the power fields seemed a lot less… I don't know, connected to me. At least they respond a bit more quickly now. The magic? Well I first noticed that when you dropped by to watch movies for the first time, though it was… mmmm, a couple of days later that someone actually told me there were 'awakening.'"


Jericho makes himself comfortable in the hot pool and glances back Illy-ward. "As to what changed for the former, I wish I could tell you. The latter? Well, that was the first time I'm aware of that I'd been directly exposed to magic, as opposed to just being around it." He's aware that Partisan is magical, though the word seems odd in application to her.


"Well, by the time it's showing in a 'big way' whatever happened has already set in." Much like an infection. The symptoms show up way after the actual exposure. "So 'give or take' isn't really good enough." Illyana says as she stands up and comes over to the edge of the pool. She's got a set of towels and washcloths, tossing one of the latter at him along with some soap. She has one for herself she dips into the edge and starts to clean the blood from her face.


Jericho starts to scrub up. He's no stranger to group bathing, having been in the military, though admittedly he's never done it with a woman present. "It has to be a side effect of having this damn thing in me for so long, but I don't know of anyone I trust to really take a look at it. It's not like this is corner clinic kinds of medicine. I'm way past the 'known side effects' period, so it really could be anything. I do kind of have my suspicions though."

He glances up pausing in his scrubbing for a moment to watch Illyana clean herself. "Thanks, by the way. I know I said it before but I mean it."


Illyana doesn't seem to be eyeing him up, and the water has the slightly milky coloring that's indicative of minerals in the water. Or at least one hopes so. Given Illyana's standoffish nature, it's hard to think that she does a lot of group bathing herself. Of course, she's not actually in the water, either. He's the one that's all exposed.

Illyana mentally goes through the folks that might have some ability to help Jericho. Hank, Kitty, Doug… "Has Nancy brought it up to Hank?" He is sort of their all-around genius type. "And if it starts to get worse, yanking it out might be the only course of action. Hopefully it's not poisoning you as it is." When he says he has his suspicions, she looks over at him curiously.

The thanks just gets an arched brow. "For what?"


"Backing me up and patching me up." Jericho says gesturing about is if to indicate everything she has done and is doing for him. He continues to scrub up, now around his wounds and burns, very gingerly there because the wounds as Illyana mentioned could break back open and the burns, well those still hurt a fair bit.

"I wish I could tell you if it was poisoning me. Or integrating further into me somehow. The initial integration process was supposed to shut down after a month or so but… well these damn things are experimental after all."


"And what kind of crazy are you, by the way, that you'd volunteer for that?" Illyana asks, her smirk mocking him as much as her tone.

The clarification just gets a shake of her head. "You'd do the same for me. Hell, the first thing you did was get me out of the way of those opening shots." Illyana says, as if he needed the reminder. "You don't need to thank me. You don't owe me anything."


"A special kind of crazy." The hacker gives Illyana a wink and a smirk. "Didn't you know that's why they call it 'special' forces?"

He would do the same for her, but that doesn't mean he doesn't appreciate having the consideration returned.

"I know I don't, Illyana, but I do appreciate it." He is, in this particular instance, not trying to troll the Demon Queen, so he keeps the tone light. Friendly, but not too heavy. He already knows she prefers distraction to heavy thought.

After a moment he realizes, rather abruptly, that his connection to Illyana's phone is still live. Neither he nor the phone is receiving anything else - there's nothing to receive - but he is still, apparently, transmitting.


Illyana's mood can all too easily turn dark and melancholy. Probably part of being Russian. Or y'know, battling demonic tendencies. It's a tossup. She gives a mild smirk. "If you didn't appreciate it, you wouldn't be worth the effort to do it." It's one of those moments that gives a glimpse into the woman behind the teasing and the trolling. That says how much actions mean to her, over words. How little smiles and platitudes are worth in her life.

Illyana has long since put her phone away and forgotten about it. Probably part of that 1% of Americans that don't check their cellphone at least once a minute. And she's not even over fifty.


Jericho stretches in the bath, now past the point of cleaning up and just kind of enjoying the heat in his very sore muscles. The dull red glow from his traces seems to light the water he's in, giving it a sort of sci-fi movie cast. Regeneration vat or something like that from a B-flick.

"Can I ask you a personal question, Illyana?"


Getting all of the blood out of her hair will have to wait until she can bathe, but she's gotten most of it off of her face, at least. She doesn't have a mirror to hand but she doesn't feel quite so sticky anymore. The question gets one of Illyana's amused looks. "I think we're rather beyond having to ask that. If I don't want to answer, I won't." She says with a slight shrug.


Jeri takes the opportunity to fish around for a larger towel in preparation for getting out of the pool. "Fair enough." He chuckles. "I was wondering, what was that earlier, when we were in the hallway? You seemed to react… oddly, when I said your name. And actually now that I think about it, I'm not sure I've ever anyone address you by your right name when you're in your other form."


Illyana draws her knees upwards, resting her chin and upper arms on them. It leaves the rest of her arms and hands to sort of dangle down at random angles with the lower half of her face tucked away. She stares at the far wall, but of course she's not really looking at it. It gives him a measure of privacy to climb out of the bath even without her turning her head or anything.

"You're assuming that Illyana is my 'right' name." She finally says. "I'm more demon thank human, so 'Darkchilde' might win the claim there." There's her usual attempt at levity, but it just comes off as flat. "Hearing my name, when I'm… in that headspace. It's like a shock. A slap. Reminding me how far I've slipped." Again.


It's only a minute or so before he's slipped out, toweled off and decent again. He walks back over to the bench where his shirt and hoodie are. Both are bloody and have a tear in the right arm. The hoodie he lays aside with a shake of the head, but the shirt goes gingerly back on.

"Seem human enough on this end. I've met people without your… impulse issues that act more demonic." And put less effort into being human. Hydra. It's amazing how time and again the worst monsters he runs up against are just people.

"I don't suppose I've ever asked but is Illyana what you prefer to be called?"


Illyana's gaze shifts back to him as the motion of him putting his shirt on draws her attention and she frowns. She rises up to her feet in a single easy motion. "Don't put that on, it's filthy. Besides, I'm not done with you yet. Sit." She bends over to pick the jar she had earlier back up as she walks over towards him.

As to her Name? She doesn't really hesitate over answering. "Illyana's fine. If I'm in costume, I go by Magik." Costume? He hasn't ever seen her in costume, has he? "The only people that usually call me Darkchilde are… not nice people." If they're people at all.


"Costume, mmm?"

He aborts putting the shirt on and simply sits back down on the bench, laying the shirt aside. "I wasn't aware you did the costume thing."

He's heard of it, of course, though never the name Magik, but it's hard to miss news of folks like Superman or Batman. Costumes serve to conceal your identity. They serve much the same purpose as his hacker handle, or the cowl he's taken to using when working leads that require more physical wrangling than digital ones.

"I'll remember that, if I ever see you in it. Magik. Seems fitting."

He fights the urge to lean back and brace on his arms mostly because that'd put a lot of pressure on his wounds. Instead he opts for just watching Illyana curiously as she retrieves the jar and approaches.


Illyana moves behind him, dipping her fingers into the salve and smoothing the analgesic over the burns and bruises so it can dull the pain, even if she doesn't put the power behind it to do any actual healing.

He can hear her smirk as she answers. "Yes. Costume. I play the superhero game, on occasion." His comment on the name gets a chuckle. "I'm a mutant, and most of the hero-types I know are mutants, so it actually does set me apart." It would be a silly name if she hung around a bunch of mages.


"You mentioned that your portals were a mutant ability… were they always tied to Limbo?" The tension slowly drains out of his back as the pain fades. Jericho is good at holding it in but naturally it hurts. The traces, as they do, light up where Illyana's hand meets Jeri's back, the light following as she rubs the salve on, sort of like a really strange kind of Simon Says. The hacker lets a slow breath out as the burning sensation fades. There's probably a joke in there about a demon queen making the burn go away, but he's not going to make it.

"Not much magic among the mutant set mmm? I guess that… makes sense. Kind of leaves you in two worlds though, doesn't it?"


"Yeah. The stepping disks aren't my power. My power is being able to tell them to open and close, where and how big and where to go to." And when. As he recently learned. Getting his back and his arms, she sits down on the bench with him and offers the jar over with a smirk. "Unless you wanted me to get the ones on your legs."

"The disks are a natural feature of Limbo. Like…" Illyana looks over at the baths. "A hot spring. Or a waterfall. You can actually find them all over in Limbo but stepping through them, it's a crapshoot as to where you end up. Makes me think that even if Belasco hadn't kidnapped me, I'd have ended up here sooner or later."

His comment about her being in two worlds gets a slight shrug. "Or neither."


Jericho returns the smirk and doesn't reach for the jar for juuuuuuuust a moment longer than perhaps one might think… Then he chuckles and takes it from her.

"I guess I hadn't thought about that." He says quietly. He straddles a couple worlds himself though not quite so dramatically. Though if you thought about it the right way, an argument could be made for him simply being in a separate one. That's kind of a lonely thought though.

"Mmmm. I see. If it's mutant though… have you ever run into anyone beside yourself who could open them?" It seems like that might be dangerous but… Jeri glances down and rolls up his pant leg to expose a few burns for him to rub the salve on.


Lonely is kind of where Illyana lives. But it's easy for people to overlook that between the creepy and the snark and the general button pushing. Which would be the point of a lot of it. Her eyes hold his, one brow arching up as he waits that extra beat. It's like a game of chicken. When he does finally take it, she stands up, picking up his shirt and holding it up to look at it. She snaps it out, as if it had wrinkles, magically mending the rips and tears and cleaning the blood. It's now picked up a few 'extras', but someone would probably need to give it some attention to notice the pentagram where the logo normally is, or the little skull embroidered onto the bottom hem. She tosses that over to him and then picks up his hoodie.

"Nope. Just me. At least, with any kind of mutant power. Someone could use a magic ritual to open one, but most people that have the knowledge to do it wouldn't want to." Illyana says, fingering where the bullet went through the hoodie.


Jeri finishes with one leg, then the other in a couple of minutes, then picks his shirt up. The pentagram combined with the back, which still says 'Ranger Up' makes him grin a bit. He doesn’t notice the skull until after he pulls it on, chuckling and kind of touched as he turns to see Illyana examining the hoodie. There's blood on the right arm and shoulder, of course, and a fairly large tear where the bullet ripped/burned through the fabric and the top of his bicep. Further up there's a pair of holes where the shoulder would have been, both of those also fairly bloody. There's also a good bit of spatter on it from the same thing that put blood in Illyana's hair.

"I'm gonna guess guns don't come into play as often when you hero?" That could be nice… then again, people probably use nastier things than guns on her.


Illyana shakes her head. "Not usually, no. Things I tend to help out with are more of the magical and mutant variety, and neither lean towards guns. Luckily I can use my teleporting to help keep me safe." And injure her opponents. "Since my magic is so weak there." She looks back at him, still holding up the hoodie. "I can fix this… But I dunno that it's really worth it. You attached to it?"


Jericho shakes his head in reply. "No. It was going to ditch it to change my look when I was done with the hack anyway. Cheap hoodie I picked up at a thrift shop. Save your magic."

That reminds him, there were a few things she'd wanted to do vis a vis magic, like try to landscape limbo and see how much magic she can pack into him. He's not sure he's up to either right now but that's mostly because he's not entirely sure what's involved beyond basic terms.

"I saw how you used those portals against those assassins. Damn handy, that. Guess it really is all about how you use it." That last part said with a bit of a smirk.


Perhaps oddly the innuendo goes over Illyana's head. Maybe she's just tired.

"I've had a few people that like to play video games compare me to a game called Portal. It's not identical though, since things have to pass through Limbo. But that means I can do tricks like stand on the ground in Limbo and be hovering up in the air on Earth. Or drop down through a portal and land here, then walk out another. Not to mention I can do things there, like sometimes put on my costume, before I reappear there without any time passing." Portal physics. She could major in it.

Since he's not attached to the hoodie, it suddenly bursts into red flames. She drops it, and it's ash before it hits the ground. Guess his idea of 'saving her magic' and his are different. She nods to the jar she gave him earlier.

"Keep it. Seems like you run into trouble often enough you could use it more than me. It's just herbs."


It could just be that Jericho misunderstood what using her magic costs her. Maybe it's only the big workings that eat away at her soul and humanity. "Alright, I will, then. Thank you." Yes, she did tell him he didn't have to thank her, but she's his friend and he appreciates what she does for him.

Shirt properly on and not this time tucked in, Jericho eyes Illyana. Not the teasing eyeing or the shocked 'you just appeared there' eyeing or the 'actually you're pretty attractive' eyeing, just… looking her over.

"You look tired." He says quietly.


Eventually he'll probably learn about the different types of magic that Illyana knows, and what each takes out of her. Most people don't notice, or don't care or would just rather not know because the idea of magic makes their brain hurt. Jericho doesn't seem to be one of them.

His observation has her blinking slowly at him, and yeah. She does look tired. She presses the heel of her hand against her forehead even as it furrows in thought. "Probably. It's been…" Her eyes narrow as she tries to remember. "I don't remember. Did I mention I was going to sleep last time to you?" She sighs. "Eh. Doesn't matter."


About the only thing he knows about her sleep schedule is that it's sparser than his. "No, though to be fair you usually don't. Do you need to rest?" Jericho rises from the bench and walks over. "I'll be fine here for a bit if you'd like to sleep. Or you can crash at one of my places. Up to you."

Yeah, Illyana really looks like she should get some sleep. And some rest. She definitely made a distinction between the two. Both would do her good though, it seems.


Illyana gives Jericho one of those amused looks. "Yeaaah. You just got done with getting beat up. I don't think that I should leave you alone here. Just the fact that you're in a weakened state means that the demons will try to test you."

She's *fairly* confident that they won't actually kill him, not wanting to incur Illyana's wrath but that doesn't mean they won't smack him around a bit. Demons have this whole thing about only respecting strength of some kind.

The offer leaves her torn. On the one hand, she doesn't like to sleep around people given her sleeping issues. But on the other, sleeping in Limbo isn't always the best idea after a Darkchilde incident.


"If you like, there's a room in the one place you've been to that soundproofed." He offers.

Jericho's dealt with people with sleep issues before. He's also had sleep issues before. Still does every once in a while but less so now. He's relatively confident he wouldn't be bothered by Illyana's issues. Concerned perhaps but not bothered. However, if soundproofing makes her feel better… well. It's not why he has that place, but if helps it helps.

"Or I can do some gardening. I can always use the fertilizer." He's teasing. Jericho isn't so macho as to want to fight right now. If he's going to get into scraps whilst landscaping, better that he's rested and unwounded. Or, as much of those things as possible.


The offer, and perhaps insight has Illyana eyeing Jericho for a long moment before finally nodding. "Fine, fine." She raises her arms and a stepping disk opens at their feet. By now he's used to the slight tingle as the portal slides upwards and when he can see again they're in his living room. If he's going to include motion detectors indoors as part of his security system, he might run into some issues with the way Illyana just drops in.


"Make yourself comfortable. I'll set up the folding bed." Jericho says, indicating the fridge which is stocked with food and also, of course, vodka.

The place had been the home of a recording artist and the soundproofed room had been his studio. The mixing and recording set has since been moved out and converted into a bedroom/office complete with one of those nifty couches that folds out into a bed. Jeri retrieves some linens and pillows and disappears into the room at the back end, right end of the hallway for a few minutes.


Illyana makes for the 'fridge, because getting herself to sleep (despite being tired) is always better accomplished with the assistance of alcohol. There is the clink of glassware in the background as Illyana does precisely that, pouring herself a generous glass before following after Jericho.


When she gets back there Jericho is just tucking the edge of the blanket in and setting the pillows on. It's a plain affair, no cutesy stuff like balloons or ponies or such. Just a slate grey set of sheets and a slightly lighter blanket. Plain white pillowcases. The pillows and bed do look quite soft though.

He looks up when Illyana comes in, straightening from his task. "Door locks from the inside if you want to be sure of your privacy." Not that he'd violate it, for reasons of politeness on top of reasons of survival.

"And you can help yourself to anything in the place. Like I said, you can consider it yours."


Illyana has already drunk a fair portion of her vodka, the glass held in one hand as she leans against the door frame and watches Jericho finish the domestic task. She takes another sip of the clear liquid, still watching him as he straightens and gives the soft huff of breath that is a chuckle that never quite made it.

"Why?" She asks, not accusing or suspicious just… a little baffled.


The hacker rolls his shoulder and gives Illyana a muted little smile.

"Because you're a friend, Illyana."

There are no lines Jericho will not cross for his few friends. Giving Illyana a safe place to sleep? That's not even a question in his mind. Jericho takes a step back from the bed so as to clear a path actually into the room if Illyana wants to inspect it.


"For most people, 'friends' are people they know. Like well enough. Doesn't mean they'd give them a ride out of their way, let alone do a literal 'mi casa es su casa'." Illyana says as she pushes away from the door.

Inspect the bed? No. Illyana does sit down, setting the mostly-empty glass on the floor and then starting on the buckles of her tall boots so she can pull them off and dump them in a pile on the floor.

"You have a shirt I can borrow?" She asks as she stands back up, opening the top button on her jeans and not looking at him.


"Sure." Jericho has all kinds of clothes that he doesn't often wear; things he acquired for blending in one place or another that were too nice to get rid of. That said, he's not completely fashion tasteless and does in fact on and use some nice button ups.

"I'll go grab it for you."

His room is only a door up the hall and on the other side so it doesn't take long to fetch a burgundy shirt and return. Jericho hands it toward her, keeping his glance downward to afford Illyana the same privacy she afforded him earlier.


Illyana's jeans have joined her boots in a heap. She takes the shirt and then gives him her back before pulling off her top. Her long, straight hair falls down to her hips, which serves as a pretty good screen. That gets added to the pile and then she pulls on that borrowed shirt before climbing into the bed.

"If you do need to come in or wake me up," Because he's got people looking for him, and Things Go Wrong. "Try not to just rush in." The request is given a bit awkwardly. Like it's not one she gives often, and so doesn't give it well. She's apparently having a rough time finding a way to say 'don't startle me, I might freak out and have demons eat you' that doesn't make her sound like a baby to herself.


Jericho leans on the door frame seeing the long blonde hair out of the corner of his eye as he looks at the paint job on the walls. Once the rustling has finally stopped he looks back to his companion.

"If things go that badly you'll probably hear weapons fire. Speaking of there's a handgun in the top drawer there. Dunno if that's your thing, but it's there if you need it. That said, rough couple of days aside I'm not anticipating any trouble tonight. I wouldn't have suggested here if I didn't think it was relatively safe."


"Not really my thing." Illyana admits. "I do better with swords. Or hoards of demons." Her lips tilt in a faint smirk but it's not like it's a joke. "I just… don't like surprises." Which is amusing, given how often she likes to give them.

Stifling a yawn, she slips down beneath the covers, knees drawing upwards a bit so she's kind of curled up in a little ball. "Night, Jericho." All she needs is a teddy bear or something.


"Night, Illyana." Jericho hits the light switch and shuts the door behind him, the sound of the rest of the apartment immediately cutting off.

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