Up on the Roof

Summary:
August 03 2014: Jericho, finally feeling up to moving around mostly without pain, seeks out a quiet rooftop vista and winds up with some company.

Uptown Manhattan Skyscraper

On the roof, it's peaceful as can be… And there the world below don't bother me…


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:
[* None]


What Jericho could, frankly, use some work to take his mind off things. It's, at least the end of the day and his second degree burn is now much less severe after a bit of letting the polymorpher go at it. By sometime tomorrow the damage should be repaired and from there it's all cosmetic, really. Since he can now get around without limping or being in more than annoying pain, he's decided to get out for the night.

He'd prefer to do some gardening to help him process things, but showing up injured and displaying 'weakness' seems like a captial B bad idea. Maybe tomorrow. Sleep is out sadly. He did a fair bit of it earlier and frankly, after an op like the one two nights ago? He's due for a 'bad night.' Seems like tonight it is.

So what he ends up with is a rooftop view in Uptown Manhatten. You have to be able to fly to get it, but he can and there's Chinese takeout. And vodka. Because it's a vodka kind of night.

*

Silly American. Every night is a vodka kind of night.

Illyana can't fly, but then she doesn't need to. The now-familiar disk of light opens off to the side and the blonde steps through. Heavy boots, leather pants, high-collared top that leaves her midriff bare but goes all the way down to her elbows. Looks like she's had one of 'those' nights too. She finds a spot next to him to sit without asking, peering over at the food. "Whatcha got?" She asks, clearly just inviting herself to his stuff.

*

The nice thing about Chinese food? It doesn't come in lots sized for one person. "Chow Mein, Egg Fu Young, Sweet and Sour Pork, Beef and Broccoli and Orange Chicken." He glances over with a bit of a smile. "No rest for you either huh?" There's also vodka, of course, and fortune cookies. A must for this kind of occasion.

New York is just a grid of lights from up here. It's kind of scenic, really. Good for admiring or just thinking. Or being unable to sleep as seems to be the case.

*

"Lotta food for one person. Am I interrupting a date?" Illyana jokes, digging around for some chopsticks so she can help herself. His comment gets one of those soft huffs of bitter amusement. "When is there ever?"

Chewing, she looks out over the city, the lights floating amidst the velvet of the night.

*

"I couldn't decide on just one or two." Jericho chuckles. "And it's not like they come in small portions." Though perhaps it's not quite all serendipity. It's possible that Jericho's started to anticipate Illyana's presence in small ways. The vodka though, that's just because it's growing on him.

"Yeah, good question." No rest for the weary. Or the wicked. It could go either way with Jericho as much as Illyana. Though… he gets the distinct feeling that he's perhaps, at least lately, much more wicked than she. Maybe.

After a few moments of watching the city he looks back to Illy. "How long as it been?" Since she dropped by. From her point of view. He's aware it's only been a couple of days Earth-side.

*

Illyana gives a shrug, her gaze having moved down to the container of Chinese as she picks the broccoli from the beef. "Guess then you've got leftovers for days, huh?" The tone is light, but it's… lacking.

As to how long it's been? Illyana shrugs. "Week? Two?" She glances over at him to see how close she is. Makes one wonder just how old Illyana is, the way so much time slips away from her. She still looks in her early twenties though. But then on rare occasions she seems so much younger…

*

Two weeks. Partly he asks because he's curious about how time seems to ebb and flow differently there. And partly so he has a frame of reference where she might be at. Two weeks? Actually that's a long time.

Jeri kind of does wonder how old Illyana is in a number of senses. Her ID and files give an age sure but at times she acts both much older - and more hardened - and rarely much younger and frequently then, more vulnerable. It's got something to do, he's willing to bet, with what 'Belasco' did to her. Though probably not all. Living in a hell-realm around demons for as long as she has probably contributes a lot to the way she is. So he guesses, anyway.

"Well if nothing else I have to account for K'nert," He says with a faint smile, noting the lack of that usual mocking spark in her tone.

"What is it?"

*

If only it kept a steady rate. But no. Some days a week is a day, others a minute is an hour. The blonde is quiet, eating silently. There's a flicker of a smirk as he mentions K'nert but she doesn't worry about the little demon. It's good at taking care of itself. The question has her glancing back over towards him. "Hmm?" She rolls back the question and then shakes her head. "Nothing. Nothing that can be done, anyhow. How was your mission?"

*

"Everyone's out and alive. Well, everyone we care about. Partisan went through the place like a wrecking ball, so the security's all done for. And I had to… have a chat with the scientists in charge of the project which was… a bit rough honestly. I didn't see a way around it though." He leaves off the grenade he ate, and the fact that it was Nancy that shot it. Which reminds him. He's stopping by the Farm. Tomorrow. With that sugar-rig.

"So about as well as one could expect, I suppose." He says with a sigh and takes another bite. On the one hand it's a weight off his shoulders. On the other, it was rough and he knows that while he's got some breathing room on the matter, it's not over.

*

"Can't ask for too much more than getting everyone out alive. The rest is gravy." Illyana says with an attitude that's way too old for her years. She holds out the container she's eating, waiting for him to take it so she can swap with him. She could have asked but like he'd have said no? She's just streamlining the process.

The bit about the 'chat' has her chewing pausing to look over at him. "You don't need to pretty it up for me, Jericho." She says, tone calm. She's pretty damned sure that the 'chat' would put him up for war crimes. If y'know, he were doing it on behalf of a governmental body.

*

One swap later Illyana has the egg fu young. Jericho lays the beef aside for a moment to put the bottle of vodka between the two of them. Glasses seemed like a hassle when he first had this idea, but there is a canteen cup handy. Those are used for all kinds of things.

"I asked them questions they didn't want to answer. When they refused I sic'd K'nert on them." He knows she can take it, but he doesn't feel the need to relive the details himself. "Partisan showed up later. We got our information eventually."

So… maybe? Governmental bodies do a lot of things that skirt the edge of both international law and decency. Sometimes it's as simple as turning your prisoners over to an ally who doesn't care about such things. Jeri did that kind of thing several times in Afghanistan.

*

That news actually gets a glance of amusement from Illyana. "You used K'nert… to interrogate someone?" She's surprised too. That Jericho would use the demon like that as in, "How did you get him to go along with that?" She knows K'nert will do what she says, but anything above and beyond that? Unlikely. She picks up the bottle of vodka and doesn't bother with the small cup. Guess it's been one of those days. Weeks. Whatever. She wipes at her mouth with the back of the hand holding the bottle and then passes it back to him.

*

"I microwaved a quart of ice cream and dumped it on top of the poor sod," Jeri snorts. Okay. It was kind of horrific. It's not like K'nert savaged the guy. The wounds were actually relatively minor, but apparently getting bit by a demon hurts, particularly when you think it may eat you alive.

The hacker accepts the bottle and takes a drink before passing it back. "So that's how my night went that night. What about you?"

*

Illyana stares at Jericho. "You poured… melted ice cream." A short laugh barks out of her, followed by a snickersnort that she brings a hand up to her mouth to try to smother. "You sure you aren't part demon too?" She teases him, shaking her head. "Did K'nert eat him?" Because that's entirely possible.

The question about her night gets a slow exhale. "No luck tracking down the dead guy. I did some 'questioning' of my own but… no joy."

*

Jericho smiles a little bit. Yeah. He's maybe a touch proud of that thought, savage as it was. "Well I had to find some way to motivate him."

He looks out across the cityscape and then back to Illyana. "Not the last time I checked. I still can't read when my HUD goes all Black Sabbath on me." That said with a wink. "Then again, maybe. Guys I fought in the army were always fond of calling us devils and demons and so on."

"No… K'nert didn't eat him. Well, not much of him. A few nibbles really and a lot of getting the ice cream off. Aaaaand clawing and biting because he liked the way the guy's screams sounded." Which is just as well. Jeri might have problems with himself later if he'd let K'nert do that, no matter how necessary he believed - and still believes - it to have been.

The hacker matches Illyana's sigh with one of his own and nods. "Too bad there's no network to hack down in Limbo. Well that's not the only way of finding things, I suppose…" He's not sure she wants him doing that, but the offer's on the table. Though she knows that already.

*

Illyana takes another long pull at the bottle and then dips her head forward. "Sorry, I shouldn't have said that." About him being a demon. "I wasn't thinking." One of those rare apologies. His company puts her at ease enough she'd forgotten that most people wouldn't care to be likened to a demon. Likened to her.

"Mmm. On that." She gets a thoughtful look and then puts out her hands as a small stepping disk opens. A thick book, the leather binding dark and cracked with age falls into her hands. The pages are thick, and they'll crackle as the pages are turned. No modern-bound book this. She hands it over to him, her manner almost careful.

"If you're one of those that likes to read out loud, I'd strongly suggest wearing a gag while you study this." A pause. "If you decide to."

*

"It's fine Illyana." Jericho smiles as he takes another bite of beef. That wasn't an 'I'm letting this pass' it's fine. It really is… just fine. He's got no problems being compared to Illyana, and none either with her using what he assumes is just her natural idiom around him. "But thank you."

Jericho takes the book in like very careful manner. The manner of someone who respects what he is dealing with. But not a fearful one. "Alright. No reading it out loud. May I ask what it is?" He wonders also if it will be in language he can read, but Illyana's not given to having him waste his time.

*

"It's essentially a dictionary. Sadly, nothing to easy as 'nyet' equals 'no'. The kind of glyphs you're seeing, they impart a lot of information. And of course the meaning changes depending on the other glyphs they're with. And in truth, it's less about you saying the 'words', or parts of words, than you saying them wrong." Illyana admits. "I figure hackers are good at book-learning, right?" The blonde smirks at him. "Given the way you absorb power somehow, I don't want you to misspeak and power the Word and something bad happen."

It's not a quick fix. Learning it is likely to take a lot of time if he could devote to just that. And she's not expecting him to. But better than him just resigning himself to having gibberish on his HUD.

*

"Gotcha," Jericho says, turning the book over in his hands. Illyana likely knows him well enough to see that he's going to devote what time he has to it. Slow going it may be, but didn't they observe just their last meeting that worthwhile things usually are? Granted, Jericho doesn't know how often that's been applied to learning demonic. Still.

He nods putting the book carefully aside, in the sack that he'd used to cart his food up here. "I'll get on that. If I'm gonna be in Limbo that often, probably be handy." And he intends to be. Plus there's the whole bit about his HUD going demonic every time she touches him for more than about ten seconds.

Another drink of Vodka and a new dish, the chicken this time. "Thank you, Illyana."

*

The book itself didn't light up his traces, so that's a good sign, right? No, nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Maybe it's just part of human nature. Can't appreciate something you don't work for.

Illyana has set aside the food now, and instead leans a shoulder against Jericho's so she can tilt her head down. If she's spent the past two weeks in Limbo, she probably hasn't slept. Also explains why she's in the leather. Her head tilts a bit to look at him without lifting her head off his shoulder. "For what?"

*

"Trusting me with this." Jeri says, moving his arm to circle around Illyana's shoulders partly because it's less awkard like that, partly because it's nice like that and partly, yes he knows it's silly but it's a gut reaction, to secure her in the event of a fall.

He's silent for a long moment, still watching traffic on and over the Hudson and then the city beyond.

*

Illyana shifts a bit as his arm comes around her, settling in more comfortably. It's in the way her body turns into him, knees drawing up to settle on his thigh. He can feel the lack of tension in her. "I've trusted you with bigger things than that." She says with light teasing. "You can get a version at least, at a number of occult shops in the city." Finding the shops might be a bit of a challenge, but they're there. Too many folks like to dabble in the Dark Arts.

*

"Perhaps that's true." Jericho's hand winds up resting on Illyana's arm, which makes his traces start to glimmer. "But I appreciate the trust all the same. You guard yours much as I do mine, or at least it seems that way. Trust is a very precious thing in my world. Not lightly given, nor lightly regarded." To a man living with secrets upon secrets, trust is perhaps rarest commodity of all. Even rarer than truth, in many cases.

*

"I probably give up too much. I get so tired of people drawing their own conclusions. Never thinking beyond their own nose…" Illyana chuckles. "Though you weren't one of them. You're good at keeping quiet. So at least even if you're having preconceived notions you're all hush-hush about it and not smacking people in the face with them." It's his propensity for silence that coaxed her to fill it. With the answers to questions he never asked. Odd, how that works out.

"How's Nancy doing?" Because while Jericho's a soldier, Nancy is not. And there was no way that was a nice, neat little op. Not if it ended in demon nibbling.

*

Jericho is quiet for a while, as if considering what to tell her. In the end, the fact that Illyana is Nancy's best friend, along with his still unexhausted reserve of trust for her, nudges him to the truth. "Shaken. The killing was a bit much for her and a lot of people ended up dead." Partisan's work, but it was her op too. "She got taken, briefly, and turned on us. We ended up fighting her. And by 'we' I mean myself and two others. Got her back, thank God and I'm going to take steps to make sure that particular trick is a lot harder to do to her."

There's another pause and Jericho sighs, pressing on. "I had to eat a grenade from her. I'm not sure she's had time to process or really remembers. And I didn't tell her. In fact I've not spoken to her since the op. Last night I was too busy. And tonight… I'm not in a good head space for it." Not with his flashbacks. "I'll go tomorrow though, just to make sure she's okay. She's got a lot to occupy her mind right now, taking care of all the victims with Bobby."

*

"There's only so long she can shove her own pain and fears under busy work though." Illyana says with a slight nod before lapsing into thoughtful silence. "If she remembers being used against you, that'll probably mess her up the worst. If she doesn't… Best to just let it go. Unless she starts having nightmares or something, feeling like you can't trust her. Then you'll want to confront it."

Illyana exhales, long and slow and he can feel the heat of her breath tickle at the side of his neck. "The Professor is good with helping people through trauma." Though she and Charles have had their tense moments, a lot of which comes from the fact he's one of the strongest telepaths on the planet but can't read her mind, Illyana knows he has a talent for therapy. Likely, his telepathy helps, but even then. He doesn't just go in and strong arm the brain straight.

That he's not in a good headspace has her tilting her head, chin resting on his shoulder so she's looking at him from a few inches away. "Anything I can do to help?" She's been there. Knows how you can feel like you're flying apart even as you're sitting still sometimes. The need to do something, but nothing seems quite right. "I usually pick a fight." She admits.

*

Jericho laughs. "I'll keep that in mind. I'm… okay. I'm just in my 'Afghanistan' place. Ready to lash out at things that look like threats." A category into which Illyana apparently does not even remotely fall.

"Talking about it to someone I can trust helps. Nan's too close to it and right now if I saw one of those poor kids… I might try to kill them for what they did to her. And what they made her do to me." Which would be counterproductive to say the least, after all the effort they'd expended getting them out.

"I don't know about any professor. I do know Nancy's contacts at the place she was staying set up medical support for the kids. And psychological support." Which is something, he keeps reminding himself. Irritating though, that they were perfectly willing to let he and his do all the bleeding.

*

"She knows who he is." Illyana says with assurance. She can see that irritation in him, his emotions perhaps riding a bit high in his current state and one of her hands reaches out to cover his, thumb sliding over a line of tight muscle along his arm. "Too much you don't know." She says, like it's a reminder. If he doesn't know about the Professor, he likely doesn't know about the X-Men and things they might be eyes-deep in. Hell, she doesn't even know.

"Sometimes you just need some quiet." Illyana says, her tone far too knowing. "When I was trapped in Limbo, my room was my sanctuary. It was the one place Belasco let me be. Anywhere else, demons might decide to 'play' with me. Or he'd appear and have some terrible task for me. But when I was in my room, I was safe." A pause. "Well. Safe*er* at least. I had to earn it though. Building the Wards there, spell by spell. It was worth it, though." Even if she had to draw most of them in her own blood.

*

Jericho's gaze follows Illyana's arm down to her hand on his. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. "You're right." He says, looking up when his eyes open and offering an apologetic smile. "Sorry. I'm still a bit wound up. Having Nan get compromised scared the crap out of me." Not the sort of thing he'd admit to just anyone. Most people aren't really safe for that kind of information.

"Your room… is that the same one I've seen once or twice while we were passing through?"

*

Illyana gives a small nod of her head. "Yeah. I don't always bounce through there but sometimes." Like when she took them to Europe for the Apocalyptica concert. "I usually like more space, especially if I'm teleporting in any kind of combat situation." It's not like Nightcrawler's combat teleporting, but she's not too shabby. Speaking of Nightcrawler…

"I met other people that were trapped in Limbo before I got there. People that ended up being corrupted over years trapped there. Then, after I escaped, I met versions of them here. It was hard, to trust them, when they'd been my tormentors." Like Kurt. "Or some… That still managed to be my friend. And then fall to Belasco's corruption while I knew them." And turned from best friend, to an enemy she eventually had to kill.

*

It occurs to Jeri to wonder just how many duplicates of Illyana's friends are still there? And what it must been like to have to face them and know they weren't the person you'd come to care for anymore. He has a brief vision of Nancy pointing the grenade launcher at Sara and is momentarily a bit sick.

"That sounds hard… both ways." He says quietly, moving his own thumb over Illyana's hand. It's really… odd how alike they are in some ways despite how different they are in others.

*

Illyana draws a slow, deep breath and then lets it out just as slowly. "Everyone's got their own hard times." Illyana says, once again brushing off that her experiences were worse than anyone else’s. She shares them so he knows what they were, so he'll understand her a bit better, not to try to derive pity. Most of the time she bears up under the awfulness. And sometimes… it drags her down under for a bit and she has to claw her way back up to the surface.

"Trust is hard." She finally says. Putting trust in people, knowing that one day they could turn on you. Because they're untrustworthy sure. But sometimes it's because someone else twists them. Sometimes the world just throws you a curve ball. There is no guarantee. Ever. She's still calm under his touch, despite the heavy conversation.

*

"Trust is hard." Jericho agrees. And it is. That's one reason he trusts so few. Burned too many times. It's not just the people trying to kill him that makes him wary. It's the effort of building trust so frequently broken that makes him suspicious. It's easier. And yes, safer in his case, but he's not the only one who can make that argument.

"But trust is worth it." Because nothing worth doing is without its risks. Or easy.

*

Illyana pulls her hand from his, leaning forward so she can grab up the bottle of vodka and the small cup. She pours some into the cup and then offers him the bottle, lifting up the cup in a toast. "Trust is worth it." There's an earnestness there. As though it's a promise, to keep trying, more than it is a statement.


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