Agree to Disagree

August 05 2014: Jericho pops by the Avenue C Clinic to turn over the medical files to Angelo and discuss another matter of import. The two don't see eye to eye on some things, but they do so civilly.

Avenue C Clinic

Offering cutting edge medicine at a low cost, the Avenue C Clinic is at the forefront of treating the medical woes of the mutant populace.



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Having combed the Ubermensch files for intelligence and stuffed all the text into his buffer (it's a lot), Jeri meant to get all these files to Angelo so he could do work his miracles. Granted, he seems to be able to work them pretty well on his own, but the hacker figures that knowing what was done can't hurt.

He had to rent a van. Seriously, there are boxes of files and not a small number of boxes either. This… could take a while unloading. But it's all well and good, there's another matter Jeri'd been meaning to bring up with Angelo.

He just hopes Seraph doesn't kill him for broaching the topic.


There's a loading dock, and despite Jamie Maddox's whinging, it's not JUST a normal door; it's also got a wider double-door loading area. And it's not right on the street where everyone can see what's going on.

Angelo is waiting inside, once again with his duffel ready to hit the gym - something about this job just wants to make him NOT get to have any recreation time at all.

"You look like someone blew you up. Why didn't you stop by the triage afterwards?" Ange asks, looking at the fading bruises around Jeri's traces.


Jericho winces, not at the question but at the fact that he's clearly just catching Angelo leaving. "Someone did. Or tried to. But you had twenty odd patients to tend to who wouldn't recover without your help and I had an interrogation to manage in any case." He doesn't mention who the someone was. Still scares him a bit, if he's honest. And pisses him off. Lots.

"Anyway, I figure you might want all the files of this since unless I very much misread you, you're going to insist on continuing to look after Anabeth. Not that I think that's a bad idea. Far from it." He glances back at the fan.

"There's quite a lot of them though. Did I come at a bad time?"


"There is no such thing as a bad time. Nor a good time, to be honest. I have to be all sorts of zen about this or I get pissed off, and that's just silly," Ange answers. He looks up at the mention of 'interrogation' and shakes his head.

"That was a foul and unnecessary business, Jericho. Partisan's a murderer and all she knows is the ways of murder. I could have gotten them to talk without having to kill them. They wouldn't have been allowed to stay here, but they wouldn't be dead and you wouldn't have their murders on your soul. Partisan was doubtless very nice about it but she didn't keep any of that stain off of you," he says. "Nor me, to be blunt, because I let you take them."

He lets the files stack up, assisting in piling them. The glowing-eyes are back as he looks at the boxes, and mutters a bit of doggerel, "Eye of Ra seeing all below show unto me the things that I must know."

He starts stacking them differently, moving several boxes to the side, and extracting one or two folders, and an entire box, to one side.


Jericho helps the man move the boxes, stacking them at his direction. There's about thirty of them, all brimming with paper. Hardcopy security is a cruel mistress.

"I was unaware you had options in that direction. Frankly, not knowing that I would have insisted on their deaths anyway. If any part of the files, their backups or key people who have enough knowledge survive, the project will simply be reconstructed. It's not nice, but that's not a risk I am prepared to take on anyone's behalf."

Hell, Jericho knows this game. And Ange's right. It stains you, and it's not nice. But it's not really that different from things he did in Afghansistan and elsewhere. Turning over prisoners to the ANP, who does not care about torture and sometimes seems to rather enjoy it, only to pick them up later and question them is just another form of farming it out. Like he did with K'nert.

"Still, you do have my thanks and my apologies. I know that whole business was distasteful for you and I am grateful for your help."


"Then you weren't paying attention, Jeri. You saw that Hydra Bob disappeared, as did the assassin. They will not be coming back. They are not on Earth. They will most likely not return while you are still alive, but if you do, you won't know them because they're not the same people they were — but in this case, we can still find out what Bob knew. This destructive-read-by-torture is not just unreliable, it is wasteful… you have to hope you got everything, you cannot go back and find out because you've destroyed your source," Angelo says.

He starts looking through the folders that were sorted out, and starts marking the interesting sections with little red flags and highlighters.

"So. That other Seraph answered my question before he left for the immediate future. He kept me from telling Partisan about my danger-sense on purpose. The bastard did it, and I quote, 'for her own good' unquote … because she shed blood and experienced pain that apparently matched exactly what she inflicted in that interrogation. She's balanced. Quote, 'The righteous pleas of the wives, children, parents and loved ones of those doctors will not open her to further immediate pursuit by the Furies or other agents of vengeance.' Unquote. He said that. I kicked him the hell out."


Jericho shrugs. "I wasn't paying attention to much at the time Ange. My HUD was full of Enochian and you'd just finished unbreaking my arm. And I wasn't in a good head space. I'll keep that in mind for future reference though, assuming there is a next time." Whether there is or not is entirely up to Angelo though. Jericho thinks he's a good man. Values his help. But understands that they come from two very different places of looking at the world.

"That's decent of him, I suppose. Though to be honest, his, and your opinion of Partisan are no one's business but yours and hers. She's my friend and my ally. I get that she's a bit much for most people, but that is what that is." He does wonder though, what the opinion of the agents of vengeance are on what he did to those doctors. Philosophically he might be prepared to debate the point with them, that he was himself an agent of retribution and operating within his limits. Practically… it probably doesn't much matter what they think. They'll come after him, or they won't. Guess he'll find out.

"He sounds like he's a right bit of a martinet though."


"Jeri, did you ever … oh, that's what they did, good, that's fixable … Did you ever play D&D?"

Angelo highlights a specific folder and writes on it, "disable hypoglycemic suggestibility switch? How much training has to be burned out?" on a sticky note, and moves to the next page.


Jeri leans back against a wall after everything is moved and Angelo starts making notations.

"I had a friend who ran a Shadowrun game while I was deployed. It was fun. Never done anything like that before. Never did DnD per se, I'm afraid." And here he is, living a Shadowrun game too, at least in part. Drink in the irony.

"Why do you ask?"


"Shadowrun. That figures. In original D&D, well, after a while, they added to the Fighter class. Two specialists, one called the Ranger, a ripoff of Tolkien, and one called the Paladin, after the Knights Templar. Paladins were Lawful. Generally Lawful Good, but in operation, Lawful Stick Up The Ass." Ange continues scanning across the pages, goes on to the next folder. Only one thing there, next, oh, four pages of important stuff.

"The other Seraph was the Paladin. He was the first Holy Knight, he was here to make it safe to walk in the day by taking out the demons who walked the earth then, and once he got done, he started in on the night, before he finally got 'transcended'. He is completely bloody minded, and his higher purpose is more important than the comfort or convenience, or choice of anyone else anywhere. He decided that you and I and Nancy and maybe some of the other people in that mess, needed to be tested because if we broke we'd have to be re-forged. That's fine for me, I signed onto this willingly. You guys, didn't."

Two more folders get only a few notes, before the last one gets marked, Everything Here. He nods toward the other boxes and folders.

"Those should go to SHIELD. To Hill, not May. She's the best one to deal with them."


Jericho folds his arms at the mention of Hill. "Hire a courier? She's not taking my calls." It's a joke, a gentle bit of sarcasm. Truth is Jericho wants as little to do with Hill as possible. "Seriously though that woman doesn't like me and seems more than willing to do something about it. I suppose I can get them to Hill but it'll have to be through an intermediary."

Like maybe Sara. Damn it, he promised he wouldn't bother her. Maybe he can mail them to Sara.

"Reforged mmm? Don't take this personally Ange but that sounds rather too much like Hydra for my own comfort." And it is. But then, Jericho never trusted Seraph much. Angelo's a different story. The man's a professional. He deserves some respect.

"Well add him to the list of people with plans for me, I guess. Speaking of… Ange, what do you know about souls?"


"You went through basic training," Angelo points out, "And you allowed them to turn you into a soldier. You let them re-forge you into a weapon to be used at the pleasure of someone who doesn't know you personally, and who will dispassionately consider your expendability to achieve a goal. Seraph decided you were already a weapon for his use, same with Nancy. That's why I kicked him to the curb."

"Souls," he muses, reading the last book, letting it soak in. "I know that the word gets misused a lot. The word Soul means a person, living, body, mind, breath of life. When you say 'ghost' you're talking about the leftover echoes that might or might not have any agency, but can't change, because they aren't real any more. Then there's the shade - the Greek notion, a psyche with a little bit of wind still clinging to it. Egyptians called it the Ka, or more precisely, the Ka was an aspect of it that kept the image and ego of the dead person. The idea that we all have an innate, immortal, part? That's a later twist. We have life because it comes from wherever life comes from — the Light, the Breath of God… as long as we're alive and it's fastened to us, it works."

He frowns at the page and looks up.

"Are you still trying to figure out if you can help Illyana?"


"True." Jericho concedes the point with a polite nod of the head. "But as you say, I volunteered for that. I object to it when the circumstances are other otherwise and I'm all kinds of protective of Nancy. But that's neither here or there I suppose."

The hacker leans back, nodding. "In honesty, yes. I just… you know, it seems to me that missing three fifths of her soul has done her some harm. If Nancy and I were both to donate some. Even it out…" It sounds silly to say it. And it's kind of ludicrious to think about. But he is. And he's quite serious about looking for ways to make it happen.


Angelo closes his eyes and shakes his head, and says, "First: Three fifths of her soul is not missing, it's been replaced with something else. Second: No. You cannot. I told you the other day, humans give away pieces of their souls all the time and it grows back, but Illyana's been maimed - the missing three fifths of her human soul is in a magical trap. She can't grow it back because it's not gone and not given … it was stolen and stuck in a box and it can't grow back because something is already in the place it would grow into. To do so in the way you're thinking, just maim you, and it would bring on the black magic, which would not just taint you but harm anyone you love."

"Third: what you can do is to do what you are doing. Replenish the two-fifths she has by being human with her, by caring for her. She spends so little time among humanity that the bits of her soul she uses to power white magic, don't grow back as fast as they should. She won't let me help, because taking outside help from a stranger who wields what looks like holy power, feels to her like it's too dangerous, too likely to get her demon parts to backlash and make things worse. You, for whatever reason, she trusts, and what you have been doing is exactly the right thing. As long as you realize she is not safe and don't let her set you up to feed on you. Because it isn't the human part that would feed, it's the demon."


Jericho does, whether Angelo knows it or not, profoundly respect the man's opinion in his bailiwick. Unfortunately for perhaps the both of them, profoundly respecting such things hasn't prevented him from disagreeing. So no, he's not prepared to give up on this idea. Ange may or may not be able to tell. Still there's good information in there and the hacker nods in acknowledgement and thanks.

"Mmmm. I will keep that in mind. Thank you." It's not a brush off, just not an acquiescence.

"She trusts me… perhaps because we are in ways similar. And perhaps in some ways because I have earned a measure of it. Or I hope I have, at any rate." He's not prepared to speak for her on that one. To an extent why she trusts him is less important to him than the fact that she does. And he values that quite a great deal.


"You're doing that 'I hear you but don't believe you' thing," Angelo says. "I want to point out one more thing before I ask you for something. Illyana was a little girl, an innocent, when she was made into this demon-thing. She's been fighting it since she was a child, and her only experience of mature sexual attraction has always been demon-tainted. She's held off from feeding on you because the human part of her is incredibly pure and innocent and strong. It has to be, in order for her to remain useful for the spell to summon the Elder Gods."

This is what Angelo saw when he used the Sight to view the Demon Queen of Limbo - and it's something he can't cure, and it gripes him like anything.

"IF you and Nancy were able to somehow sever part of your own souls, and offer them to her, and she were to accept, the Demon parts of her soul would FEED and GROW and another fifth of her soul, and maybe more, would just pop off to the spell-box, and the thing she's fighting to prevent would happen. Think about that before you get all self-sacrificial."


Jericho nods, but he doesn't seem dissuaded. Or more like… "I believe you Angelo. I'm just not prepared to concede that it's the final answer as it were. Magic, to the best of my knowledge, seems to be about breaking rules." He holds a hand up to forestall further protest or education or a staff to the face.

"Look, I won't go off halfcocked on this, I promise. It's entirely possible I'll come to agree with you but you'll forgive me if I seek out a couple second opinions. No reflection on my respect for yours, honest. The point of the exercise would be to help Illyana. She's a dear, dear friend and I don't casually put them in jeopardy." He chuckles a little. "I don't have that many to spare." He adds wryly.


"No, you don't," Ange says, equally wryly. "Ask Illyana before you go any further at all, and see if she says what I told you, because I'm pretty sure she will. Also, it's not just Illyana that would be endangered. If she were to go full-on demon, she'd take this planet with her. The gates obey her. Now. The thing I want to ask from you. I want to feed your cybernetics. You stink of demon magic. At least I can balance that out so you won't be drawing parasites from the hells … K'nert notwithstanding."


"I'd… really rather you not, Doc." Jericho chuckles and leans back. "The one set of magical entanglements is quite enough to handle and I'm not sure I trust Seraph after what you just revealed. He seems to be able to hijack you a bit." And keeps secrets from Angelo. Which Jeri won't reveal but… really. If Seraph keeps secrets from Angie…?

"Nothing personal, though I realize it kind of sounds personal. I'm sorry." For that.


Ange considers that and nods. "See, if it were Old Seraph, he'd just do it without asking. I told you, I kicked him out. When I need training, he doesn't come here, I go there. And when the Seraphim needs me to do something, it/they wake me up, instead of sending him in. Apparently, part of the training Seraph was doing, was me getting strong enough to kick him out, because the Serpent — the thing behind Hydra and Cobra and all those lovely snake-themed cults — that particular elder god has a few ways of taking you over."


"How very Mister Miyagi," Jeri notes wryly. "Though it is comforting to note that he had good intentions." Intentions matter to Jeri for most things. Some things don't matter why you do them. But many do.

"Should I expect to see you at the Nest?" He's not sure how often he'll be going himself. It's entirely possible he could endanger them by association. Sort of what they'd been talking about. But reverse.


"Maybe. I'll be there — I've been there once or twice already to help Anabelle — but for now, I'm going cloaked. Oh, and Jinx is still all "Hail Hydrant" … if she doesn't quit that they're never gonna let her out of the Balance Room," Ange says. "But if Nancy and the rest decide they want her back, I'll bring her back. Once I figure out how to scrub her genes…"


"Good luck with that. I may or may not be around, but you've got my number if you ever need me for anything. Fair warning though, I'm not sure where I stand with SHIELD right now. I'm getting some mixed messages from them." Really mixed. Ah well. Jeri's life is nothing if not interesting. In that old Chinese curse sense, that is. "I'll pass that along though."


"Yeah. I'll deliver these boxes myself," Angelo says. "I wasn't actually asking you to play messenger service. Oh. Hey. Four words, in sequence. Tell me if they mean anything to you. Kaa nama kaa lajeramaa."


Jericho shakes his head. "That Enochian? No, sorry. Can't say that it rings any bells. Should it mean something to me?"

The hacker sticks his hands in his pockets and cants his head slightly. That was… odd.


"To you? No. Try saying it to a few Hydra people. The really nasty ones. I'm curious to learn what happens. If anything," Angelo says. Mysterious bastardy is apparently also something one learns from the Old Seraph — the words are an incantation that forces the ancient enemies of humanity, the Serpent-Men of Set, back into their snake-man form. And Set was the guy, or rather, Elder God, behind the Serpent Crown, and Hydra, and Cobra… if you go far enough back along the scaly tracks.


Nice thing a cyborg, Jericho can just save the recording of what Ange said rather than struggle to remember the words. "As more encounters with them seem rather certain, I'll try. I'll let you know if anything happens." Knowing Angelo, he's on to something. The guy usually is.

"Thanks again for your help. And for being willing to talk." Because that means something. "And being reasonable about some kind of unreasonable things." Because that means more.


Ange sketches a truly horrible salute, and returns to reading that journal with all the actually useful stuff. The one with the theoretical material that started the whole thing going… what the hell, 'alien DNA sequences, triploid encoding??' Really? Bullshit?

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