The Short Inexpensive Dinner of the Soul

Summary:
July 22 2014: Nancy, as promised, swings by to talk to Jericho about Illyana. The conversation very quickly takes a turn she would not approve of.

Jericho's Midtown Safe house

The den of Brother Wolf.


Characters

NPCs

  • K'nert the demon-cat

Mood Music:
[* None]


A promise is a promise and even though Nancy is pretty sure nothing will come of it, she drives over to the safe house of Brother Wolf that she knows about.

<Hey Jer. I'm coming over. We need to talk. Hope you're home>

*

The reply is not long in coming. Then again, because Jericho's phone is in his head, it usually isn't.
<Actually I am home. Come on over. Making dinner at the moment. Shall I make it for two?>

*

<Only if you are making dessert too>

She tosses her phone into the seat beside her, the light changing. She never texts while driving, but lights are fair game. Right? Okay, chalk it up to another bad habit she has to get around to breaking someday. About 10 minutes later, she is pulling up to the apartment building that she knows about, looking up to see if his suite has been blown to smithereens yet. All good.

*

Jericho has a bit of… well, he's taken skirt steak, breaded it and quick fried it. Then he's made rice. And now he's eating it. With chopsticks. That apparently he knows how to use. There's… something backing in the oven. That smells vaguely of peaches. And compote.

When Nan gets up to the door it opens before she's able to knock, as if somehow he knew she was there. Which he probably did considering he's got the hallway bugged.

"Hey Nan." He says, bowl of meat and rice in hand. "Come on in."

Jericho steps back, to let her in. It's… well, clean as it was last time she came over. There's someting about Jer's eyes… they're different. Nan's only seen him a handful of times but… oh also, the shadows are skittering a bit.

*

Nancy smiles when she sees Jericho, coming it and giving him a poke in the ribs as way of a greeting. She then stops dead in her tracks. The skittering shadows. Oh yeah, she remembers them. She takes a deep breath. "Did Illy leave them here on purpose? I'm gonna assume you know they're here. Couldn't find a properly licensed exterminator?" Her jaw tightens as she glares at the shadows.

Grumbling and now suddenly in a bad mood, she grabs Jer's bowl of food and starts to eat it as she heads over to his table. "So, I'm gonna be blunt. What in the blue blazes are you and Illyana up to?"

*

"Just one, K'nert. He… it… whatever, is here to keep an eye out for me and provide portal access in case I need it. K'nert!" Jeri calls out. "Go eat. Seriously." The skittering shadow vanishes down the hallway.

"Mischievous little thing." Jericho mutters as he makes himself a new bowl - that had been his after all - and goes over to the table to sit down next to Nancy, silent for a moment as he takes a few bites.

"Depends on how you mean. I think I've explained we're not sleeping together, not that you seemed to believe me." The hacker laughs quietly and then notes the set of her jaw. "What's got you worried?"

*

Nancy's eyes follow the skittering down the hall, distrust apparent in her pale grey eyes. Little bugger. "Mischievous is a toddler with your car keys and a toilet. That little bugger is a menace to society. And anything else it gets close to." Perhaps still a little mad at being in her apartment that time with Illyana? Naaah.

She takes a few mouthfuls of Jer's food. Yes, she knew it was his when she took it. "She's worried. About herself when she's around you. She says you're starting to bring out her dark side and you're encouraging it. So, I'm here to ask you nicely, to knock it off."

*

At least Jericho doesn't dismiss it out of hand. Instead he takes a few mouthfuls of food himself and looks thoughtful. "She'd mentioned similar to me before. Did she… elaborate at all?" Jericho rolls his eyes at the description of K'nert. "He's apparently been told to behave. I try to keep him well fed anyway so he has fewer reasons to misbehave. Chasing him down would be a pain."

*

"A good shot with a loogey gun would be useful there. Just sayin'." She takes another mouthful, giving Jer a thumbs up for the food. "Well, let's put it this way, when you are dealing with a woman that is capable of tearing out your soul and wearing it like a feather boa as she plays meat puppet with your corpse? Yeah. She is fighting really hard to not lose herself to the darkness. And I want to help her, but I have no clue how. The only idea I have come up with is both incredibly stupid and likely hard as hell."

*

"She could do that…" Jericho observers wryly, "… whether or not I'm her friend, so as much as she worries, not really a compelling reason for me to isolate her. It'd be a little like… eh, not being Parti's friend, or your Brother Wolf because I might get shot at. Different kind of danger sure but still dangerous."

The hacker shrugs and sighs. "And I doubt my soul would be a feather boa. Maybe a really dirty knife?" It's a joke, well, half a joke. "I'm certainly not trying to provoke her, but hell Nan, the woman came and asked for my help with something. People… don't ask for my help, generally, unless their out of options. Maybe it was a whim but I don't really think it's a coincidence. And near as I can tell, aside from you and maybe one or two others, she doesn't get much human contact. Not many people willing to push past the snark and danger, I guess."

Another pause as Jericho takes a bite of rice. "What's your idea?"

*

Nancy can't help but smile. "Hey, if anyone knows about using bad attitude and snarkiness to keep people at arms’ reach, it's me. I think that's why I like her so much, cause I know how badly I wanted to have people that actually gave a shit about me. And you know… just like me, now that she has them, she's worried sick she's gonna do something to put us all in danger. Only difference is, the danger I bring to the table is a killer corporation with neo nazi tendencies. She brings the sort of danger that has demons living in your house like a bloody pet"

She shakes her head, clearly disapproving of K'nert's presence. She takes a deep breath then. "Well, part of her problem is her serious lack of a soul, right? What if… she had more?"

*

Jericho nods. "Right, I mean… it's different, but you get hat I'm getting at, right?" Now's probably not the best time to mention that the he's in a lot less danger from the demons because Illyana gave him a 'name tag' that identifies him as someone not to be screwed with lightly. "She doesn't trust herself and… well she's not wrong. But someone has to trust her, and it might as well be someone who'll forgive her if she makes mistakes."

Jericho nods. "Yeah, missing three fifths of it, actually. I've… seen it. But there doesn't seem to be any way to get it out of where it is and back to where it belongs, y'know?"

*

She eats slowly, thinking. Nancy seems to be looking more into the distance then paying attention to the here and now. "I told her that chances were that you trust in her good side being the one that wins when it comes to her hurting you.'"

"Yeah, it's a little like putting a toothpaste back in the tube, I get it. But what if… Okay, this is stupid and I know it, but… what if I were to give her a piece of mine. I'm damned to hell anyway cause of those people I killed."

*

"If you're damned to hell for that, Nancy, I'm damned a thousand times over. What do you think I did in the Army for eight years?" Jericho laughs a bit.

"Oh I don't doubt it'll probably hurt at some point Nan. She's human. She's gonna make mistakes. The trick is to make mistakes with people who might forgive you when you're done."

The notion of putting the genie back in the bottle seems to intrigue Jericho. "You'd… need to find a way to do it. And need to get her to agree. Good luck with that. Hrm. All that said, though, if you could do it and get her to agree… you'd want to top her off as much as possible without loosing so much yourself that you wind up in the same situation or worse." Jericho is verbally working through this process. "So you'd want… heh…" Now he grins. "You'd want more than one person."

*

"Well, agree I'd only have to do if she knew about it. I was thinking like a surprise birthday gift. Surprise! You have a soul again! Yay!" She shrugs her shoulders and shakes her head. "But, like I said, it's a super dumb idea. And the big question is how?" She smirks when he mentions more than one person doing the offering. "Okay, I'm doing it because I have a huge martyr complex and not a lot of brains. What's your excuse?"

*

"She's my friend." Jericho says with a quiet chuckle. "And so are you. If you're gonna do this, I'll help. Well, assuming we can find a way." He pauses. "Also I'm nuts. Just ask Illyana. She told me so herself a few nights back."

*

"Well, if we're actually considering this as an option, I'm thinking maybe we should both be talking to the men in the white coats for a trip to a nice padded cell." She takes a last bite full and pushes the meal away, leaning back in her chair so that only the back feet are on the floor. "Seriously though, she asked me to talk sense into you about the whole tempting her dark side thing. I don't think she'd be too thrilled to find out what we've come up with since that topic of conversation is now verboten."

*

"No rather not. Though I'm still a little unclear what I'm doing that's tempting her dark side beyond extending my trust." Jericho gets up to get whatever is in the oven out of it. It turns out to be cobbler. Peach cobbler. Two scoops go into bowls with vanilla ice cream in them and one of the sweet, piping hot confection gets plopped down in front of Nan as Jericho recovers his seat.

*

"Well, walking around half dressed is probably a start. She didn't go too much into detail about what you two are doing, and for that I'm grateful." She sticks her tongue out at Jericho and smirks. She doesn't actually believe that the two are bumping uglies, but it's more fun if they think she does. "Peaches! Om to the nom to the om nom nom! Gimme." Well, ain't she polite? "She'd likely string us up if she knew we were thinking of divvying up our souls for her. Hell, if Harry Potter taught me anything, it's that splitting up your soul is *bad*. Like going to the prom with Jason Voorhees style bad."

*

Jer grins. He's become quite acquainted with Nancy's sweet tooth via texts so when she indicated she was coming over, something sugary was in order. He's glad to see it passes inspection. "Yeah. Well it doesn't seem to have done Illyana any good, but if we found a way to each give her a fifth of our souls… then we'd each only be a little screwed, comparatively speaking, rather than just her being a lot screwed. That sounds like a net gain to me."

Jericho just… doesn't comment on the not being entirely dressed in front of Illyana thing. It's not like he had a choice the first time it happened and the only other times its happened have been when he's been shot or burned and in need of some magi-medical attention.

*

Digging into the dessert, it takes Nan a few mouthfuls before she is willing to talk again. "Well…. if you and I each gave her one fifth of ours, then all three of us would have four fifths of a soul. I mean, she'd likely say that it's no gain at all. She'd be ahead, but we'd have sacrificed too much. SHe'd say that we don't know the true value of our soul cause we have a full one…. I know it's dumb, Jer. I mean, it is likely the stupidest thing I will ever do, but it keeps popping in my head."

*

"I don't think so…" Jericho grins. "The stupidest thing you ever did was accepting me as Brother Wolf. It's all uphill from there, I promise you." He too pauses to shovel a bit of cobbler into his face. Mmmm. Fresh cobbler.

"She'd not be wrong too, probably but… well I'm willing to do an awful lot for my friends Nan, you know that. I wonder if that isn't what tempts her dark side so much? Taking advantage of that?"

*

"She wants to hurt you. To make you hurt. To see how far she can push you before you start giving the red light to whatever she is doing and then keep going to see how much you can take after that. She wants to see if she can break you, or at least her dark passenger does. And… I'm actually pretty sure she could do it. And when the fate of our world is what hangs in the balance of if she can control herself or not, I think maybe we should trust her when she says she is reaching her limit." She sighs, pale eyes staring at the center of the table, looking beyond it into her own thoughts. "I want to help her, but for the life of me, I have no idea how."

*

"The point, though, so far as I can see, is she hasn't yet. And she keeps coming around. I encourage her to, of course, but I don't - and can't if I wanted to - make her. So I don't think she's at her limit yet." Jericho has a better idea than most what she's really capable of. "The only way I can think of to help her right now is just to be her friend. I think maybe that does more good than it seems sometimes. Though… totally not opposed to finding other ways to help. I'm actually headed into Limbo on my own soon. Well, me and K'nert."

*

Nancy arches a brow at the mention of going into Limbo. "Without Illy? Jer…. need I remind you? Demons? Hell dimension? Bad place? Why are you going there on your own? Oh, sorry, my mistake, you're going with a demon in tow with you! Are you now like the King of Limbo or something? And if so, why did you not invite me to the wedding?"

*

Jericho nearly chokes on his dessert laughing. "Heh. Man, don't do that. No, more like Limbo's gardener. I'm going to try my hand at some landscaping." He pauses. "Long story. And yeah, it'll probably be some trouble but Illyana put a… mmmm… name tag on me? Something that identifies me as someone not to be messed with. At least, not lightly. It'll save me some fights. Probably start others but then that's like a lot of things in the world."

*

Nancy listens to this and then starts laughing. "Dude! She put a name tag on you and is having you do her gardening? So… what? She has your balls in a box and she lets you see them on holidays if you're good? Well, I know which one of you wears the pants in your relationship now." She snickers, sticking her tongue out at Jericho. "No, seriously, why are you going to Limbo?"

*

"Well you've been there right? Have you seen the green parts?" Jer looks mildly amused at Nancy's taunting of him. Frankly, they've talked too much for it to really get to him anymore.

"They represent her humanity. Doing black magic eats away at them. So there's a link. She's hoping it goes both ways, you know, that helping them grow might repair some of her humanity."

*

Nancy was worried that he wasn't joking. "Yeah, I've seen them from her room, out the window." She finishes off the cobbler, looking thoughtful. "Well, if black magic is eating away at the green space, wouldn't white magic help? Or am I oversimplifying things?"

*

Jericho frowns and shrugs a bit. He's been wondering how it works himself though he's gotten more of an explanation than Nancy has apparently. "I'm not quite sure how it all works. White magic seems to cost bits of her soul. That's why she doesn't do much of it, or that's how it sounded to me when she explains it. So black magic makes her less human and white magic just makes her… less. It makes me wonder if it's just a demonic magic thing or if all magic is like that."

*

"Okay, that doesn't make sense. If using magic one way or another diminishes you somehow, why would anyone do magic in the first place? That just sounds like suckage from one end to the next." She gets up from the table, taking her dishes and heading into the kitchen to clean them. "Know any other magic users we can ask for help?"

*

"I don't think the only two I know of who have anything even remotely have anything to do with magic A) Probably don't trust me that much and B) I don't think are actual mages the way Illyana is. They seem to just have… magical toys. If that makes any sense." Jericho leans back, musing. SHIELD probably wouldn't tell him if they had anyone like that on staff and to be honest, he doesn't wanna know. He's betting they don't though. "There's gotta be someone to at least bring it up to though."


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