Safe as Houses

Summary:
August 05 2014: Nancy comes to Jericho's place after her encounter with Hank and Kurt. Illyana follows shortly thereafter.

River West Room 24F

A spacious apartment with a view of the Hudson.


Characters

NPCs

  • K'nert
  • Moe the Bamf

Mood Music:
[* None]


It's time for an evening with a pizza and a good book. Well, a demonic book. A demonic dictionary, at any rate. After being told that this could in fact be acquired around the city, or a version of it anyway, he decided it was to be accorded about the same level of respect and care as a particularly dangerous gun. He doesn’t leave it laying around. When he's not reading it, it remains locked. In a gun case.

Jericho would like to say he's making leaps and bounds of progress but the truth is Demonic is going to be very, very hard language to learn. Well, at least he has something to go on. Feet propped up on the coffee table, vodka glass on the end table, he lounges on the couch and reads.

*

The distinctive growl of Nancy's Charger pulls up on the street below, parks there and sits. For over an hour, Nancy just sits in the driver’s seat, crying. She looks at her phone, resting in the passenger seat, and lets out a long drawn out sigh as it rings for the third time since she left Xaviers. She'll talk to Bobby. Later. When she doesn't feel… like this. Unless she always feels like this.

Finally, Nancy picks up her phone and starts to text her Brother Wolf. That's even what he's labelled as on her phone, instead of his name. Just in case. <You home?>

*

Bling. Right up on the corner of his vision the text scrolls up. Oh! It's Nan. Most people can't text and hold a demonic tome at the same time. Jericho can. Go him.

<Hey Nan. Yeah, I'm home. What's up?>

*

<I'm having a really bad day. Can I come up and see you?>

Oh. Well… that might have been inevitable in some way. <Nan, you can always come up here.> Seriously. What's Brother Wolf for?

Jericho gets up and puts the book back in its case, locking it on the coffee table before going to his room to throw a shirt on before Nan gets there. His burn scars are about half gone now. They're faded and far less horrific than when May and her friend were over, but he still doesn't want her to see them. So long sleeves for the house it is. A bit unusual but there you go.

*

Finally getting out of her car, Nancy wipes her face with her sleeve. She looks like a bad Marilyn Manson knock off. She locks the door and makes her way up. In the elevator, she finally texts Bobby that she will keep in touch, but she needs some alone time right now. Okay, not setting the boyfriend's mind at ease, but it's better than the zero contact he's had since he got off work.

A knock on the door tells Jericho that Nancy's here. Or that a HYDRA kill squad got here before her and is being terribly polite.

*

Because it sounds like Nancy coming up the stairs, Jeri forgoes the usual 'greet you at the front door with a gun' and just opens it up. He's there in a plain grey long sleeve tee and jeans and socks. Clearly not planning on going much of anywhere. The fact that she's been crying is not lost on him.

"Hey Nan," He says quietly motioning for her to come in side and giving her a tight one armed hug while he shuts the door behind her. "Bad day, huh?" Is all he says. Maybe she wants to talk about it. Maybe she just wants some safe company. Either way, he'll know in a moment.

*

Nancy walks in the door and suddenly attacks Jericho with a fierce hug. She starts crying anew and mumbles into his shirt. "The X-men suck donkey balls!"

*

That isn't a name Jeri's heard before. So he's not quite sure who it is who sucks, though the protective brother in him would like to punch someone right now. Of course, punching isn't nearly as important as putting his other arm around Nancy and letting her cry, rubbing her back a little. After a couple of minutes, not letting up the hug at all, he murmurs, "Do you want to talk about it Nan? Or just get some distance from it?"

*

After a good long cry, likely leaving two distinct eye marks on Jeri's shirt, Nancy pulls away. "They wanted me to stop associating with you and Parti. They say I have to make a choice. That if I hang around with killers, even if I don't kill myself, that I'm not innocent. That I'm just as guilty." She turns and heads to the couch, flopping down on it. "They even said I shouldn't trust Illy. Jerkwads." Even though only one of the two said that and it wasn't quite accurate, Nancy is painting both Hank and Kurt with the same, very broad brush

*

He's less worried about the state of his clothes than he is the state of his friend. Nancy's taking up… most of the couch right now. "Stop associating with Illyana and Parti and I?" He can understand almost any of those things individually, sure. The part of that which doesn't make sense is… "Who's 'they'? People at the place you were staying? Other friends of yours?"

*

Nancy nods her head, looking confused. Of course they are, why does he even have to ask? Then Nancy realizes what she said. "Oh, for cryin' out loud! I officially suck at keeping secrets. If Hydra ever gets their hands on me, we're all doomed. I'll just tell them everything." She pulls her knees up and crosses her arms over them, dropping her face into the little nook she has made. "Dr. McCoy and associate. Mostly the associate."

*

That makes Jeri frown a bit and he moves from chair to couch and puts his arm around Nancy in a comforting manner. "Shhhh. It's okay. You're upset. I know Doctor McCoy. I've been in contact with him a bit." It stings a little that apparently Hank thinks he's unfit company. Huh. He thought they had a bit of a rapport. But… that's not important right now.

"What was it they said to you that upset you? That you're a killer by association?" 'cause he can see that being upsetting. "Or that we're bad news?"

*

Nancy leans in, letting her big brother comfort her. "Both… and that I was too young and inexperienced to know what I was talking about. And them constantly saying that *I* have to understand *them* when they weren't seeming to make any effort to understand *me*. They kept saying I was telling them what to do. I was only making suggestions. Giving my opinion. I don't know what's worse, having my ideas shot down by you and Parti cause they wouldn't work for the raid, or being told my ideas are orders and that I'm too young and inexperienced to be giving orders. It's not like they're ancient or anything. They're not even as old as you!"

*

Jeri chuckles. "I'm sorry Nan." In truth, he'd have preferred stealth as Nan suggested but they simply didn't have either the people or the time to pull it off. Maybe if they'd all been experienced infiltrators but… as it stood, there was just him in that department.

The hug gets just a bit tighter. Just a squeeze to let her know he's there.

"And what do you think, Nan?"

*

"They said I didn't, we didn't, really ask for their help. I just, I don't know anymore. It all just a blur now. Them being all sanctimonious. Making me feel like shit. Like all those people dying wasn't bad enough. Oh, and apparently, they could have done it all with just four of them and there would have been no deaths. Pretentious pricks."

*

Jericho mutters. "Next time they can do it then. I'm tired of putting my neck on the line and risking the people I care about for people who could have done it all better when it's all said and done." Jericho shakes his head. "Look Nan. Let me ask you this. If you had to do it over, would you do it differently? Or not do it?"

*

Nancy straightens out her legs and starts to unbuckle her boots. Has Illyana never heard of zippers for the boots she creates out of thin air? She wiggles her toes, still frowning, but starting to seem more at ease. "You got any chocolate. Or… " She looks around to see if K'nert is around to hear. "Ice cream?"

She takes a deep breath and lets it out in a heavy sigh. "If I had it all to do over again, and I was in charge? I wouldn't have had Bobby there. My guilty conscious is bad enough without having brought him into all this. And no one would have died. We'd have found a way. Maybe got SHIELD more involved so they could cart them all off to whatever prison they put HYDRA in, since it ain’t any real jail."

*

Jericho nods. The point of the exercise is not the tactics of the matter. Frankly, with seven people who'd never worked as a team before, their options had been pretty damn limited. "But you'd do it, wouldn't you?" That's the real point. Because if she'd do it again, she has nothing to be sorry for."

K'nert is… probably around somewhere. "Rocky Road in the Fridge. He knows better than to empty me out." Oh yes. They've had that conversation.

*

Nancy nods her head. "Of course I would! No one deserves to be kept as a prisoner. Though, Kurt said that's what I'm doing to the mutants at the Nest. That their cage is just gilded. That I'm … keeping them from healing. Because I'm muting their power. Only 30feet around me, when I'm trying. That farm is huge! I can't do all of them all the time. I just give them… a place where if they don't want to have them, if they want to escape them for a little while. These powers, for most of us, they have brought us nothing but grief."

She rises to her feet and goes to the freezer. "If you're not a total jerk, I'll let you have some, you pile of skin and bones. But you bite me and I shove the spoon down yer throat."

*

"I don't know what Ku- wait… Kurt?" He's met a Kurt. Connected to Illyana but the name isn't that common.

"Kurt Wagner? Blue guy, fuzzy tail? Teleports around and stinks like brimstone?" It's a shot. Could be a coincidence but Jericho's experience tells him not many of those.

"I don't know what his background is, but that doesn't sound particularly… sound. They're seriously injured. Mentally mostly, but in some cases physically. They need to be cared for at least enough to get back on their feet. I'm not sure why he'd say that."

*

Nancy flops back on the couch, eating ice cream right out of the container. Jer may have a deal with K'nert not to eat all the ice cream, but Nancy never made that promise. "Yeah. That's the guy. Hangs around M-Town a lot. Or so he says. First time *I* saw him there."

Yes, because if Nancy didn't see him, he clearly wasn't there. Pouting much? She shrugs her shoulders. "They wanted to go to the Nest to start training them to use their powers. I said to give them time, let them recover from having been prisoners first. They said I didn't know what I was talking about and that I shouldn't give orders to people with more knowledge and experience. So… fine."

She mutters before she puts a large spoonful of icecream in her mouth. "Didn't wanna be a stupid X-Man anyway."

*

K'nert does indeed make an appearance. Right by Nancy's shoulder staring somewhat avariciously down at the ice cream.

Jericho is just rubbing his temples. "Well training would be good but… Ai ya. I'd say just move them if they didn't honestly need the medical support that your friends are providing. But they do and frankly moving them isn't fair to them." He sighs. "I can go down there though if you like. Maybe they might listen to someone a bit older?" Or, comes to it, a bit more willing to put teeth to his words.

*

Nancy looks up at the demon cat and mopes. With no Illy here, this is the closest thing she has to her best friend. She offers him a spoonful of ice cream.

"Yer ugly as sin, you know that right?" she tells him. She takes a deep breath and sighs, shaking her head to Jericho. "Don't do it on my behalf. I'm just gonna… I'd say it but that dumb song ruined it. I can't remember who, or what it was about, but someone once said, take the bits that you like and leave the rest. So, that's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna keep the boyfriend and the control I learned there and leave the rest. Now they're just somebody that I used to know."

*

"How many songs are you going to quote?" Jeri chuckles. K'nert is… kinda grabby. But he is a demon, after all.

The hacker takes another slice of pizza and sighs. "I'm sorry the aftermath of this thing isn't playing out quite the way you want it to, but to be honest that's often the way of these things. I think second guessing you is dumb. I also think several other things about your 'friends' that are probably a bit unfair of me, so I won't repeat them here. Would it make it easier on you if I stayed away after all? Since, apparently my presence is objectionable?"

*

Well, K'nert might have been talked into going to find Illyana except y'know. Ice cream. But even without the little demon playing messenger, a familiar disk of light opens in Jericho's living room and the blonde steps through.

"If there was pizza and no one saved me any, I'm gonna be annoyed. Just sayin'." Illyana says, resting hands on hips.

*

Jericho turns at the light and grins broadly. "Still some left. K'nert is much less fond of it."

Nancy may or may not note that Jericho doesn't bother to say 'come in', or 'make yourself at home.' This is primarily because so far as he's concerned, it's Illyana's place too. She doesn't need an invitation to be at ease in her own place.

"Nice to see you again. Just dropping by?" There is plenty of pizza left. This is partly because leftover pizza is good eats and partly because really, Jericho figured someone would eat it.

There's a gun case resting on the coffee table. Locked. Illyana may or may not be able to sense the book she gave him last time within it. He'd been reading before Nancy came over. Jeri himself is dressed in a plain long sleeve grey tee that has tear tracks and smudges on it, and jeans. And socks. Clearly it was a 'staying in' night.

*

Nancy smirks as she watches K'nert lick the ice cream off her spoon. "Maybe they're right. I hang around killers and demons. How good can I be?"

She tries to take her spoon back and smirks as the demonling pulls it back. There is still ice cream on it after all. "No. I don't want you to stay away. You are a better friend to me than they ever were. At least you and Illy noticed when I went all zombie Nan."

She raises a hand to Illyana when she comes in. Nan looks like hell. She's clearly been crying. A lot, as her face and Jericho's shirt can testify.

*

Illyana frowns seeing Nancy's state. "You look like crap." She informs the other woman as if somehow, this might have escaped Nancy's attention. She doesn't go over to console Nancy, she goes to the kitchen, to get pizza. And vodka. And some glasses for said vodka. Only then does she come back over, walking right between the middle of them, stepping over and around things gingerly if needs be.

Glasses and vodka are set down. Plate is set down as well. She looks at the pair of them and points. "Don't touch." Presumably the pizza, unless she's planning to use multiple glasses. Which… might be entirely possible. Then, she starts to dig around in Jericho's draws. Because he's a boyscout and she saw candles in here somewhere. Finding a few, she brings those over as well and then with a flip of her finger (from across the room) she turns out the lights.

For a moment, there's just the light through the glass that overlooks the Hudson, then with a *snap*, the candles all flare to life. Illyana plops herself down and starts to unbuckle her shoes. "OK. I'm ready."

*

Jericho chuckles. The last time Illyana needed an extra glass for something, things got really interesting. K'nert seems, rather oddly, somehow better behaved with Illyana around. Ish. Sort of. He's still K'nert.

"For dinner?" Jericho's been slowly nomming as he read, but hadn't really had dinner. And Dinner sounds nice, especially with friends. View's nice from up here with the lights out though he does wonder about the candles. It's amusing, really, that she knew he had them. Or knew him well enough to guess. Either way.

There's a clink as Jericho helps himself to some Vodka and glances between Illy and Nan.

*

Nancy gives Illyana a flat look as if unimpressed with her observation. "Really? You think? Thank you for noticing." She continues with the ice cream, splitting it with K'nert. One spoon for her, one for the cat. She watches as Illyana scoots about the house, as comfortable as can be.

"So, according to Kurt, I suck if I don't tell Jeri, Parti and you to take a hike."

*

Illyana's brows go up and she pauses in the middle of pulling one shoe off. "Me? Why do I need to take a hike?" She finishes with said shoe and drops it with a *thump* before moving on to the next.

Jericho gets a glance that somehow conveys the rolling of her eyes. "No. To hear whatever drama it is that has Nancy looking like something K'nert dragged in." Empathy… not one of Illyana's strong suits.

Speaking of blue bamfing things, K'nert is just about to take another lick of ice cream when there's a *bamf* and Moe appears next to him, sticks out a tongue, and grabs the spoon to try to make off with it!

*

Jericho blinks and almost jerks a gu- Oh wait. Moe. Yes. He remembers now. "Don't you two make a mess now." He admonishes betting that only one of them will listen.

He leans back in his seat, munching on pizza. This is really Nancy's thing to explain.

"The last thing I saw K'nert trying to drag looked much worse, though." He mentions to Illy. And it was covered in dried, sticky, strawberry ice cream. And he had screamed himself hoarse. To be honest, it was kind of amusing, but really Jeri needed the guy to stay where he was.

"You wanna field that one Nan?"

K'nert hisses and yanks back at the spoon. It almost sounds like conversation. Complete with a threatening claw gesture. There is ice cream. And ice cream is not to be shared. Especially with blue furry cherubs!

*

Nancy shrugs. "You’re a demon. Not to be trusted. Like he's one to talk. He's a hypocrite." She elbows K'nert away from her tub of ice cream as she has two spoonfuls in a row. "Hank and Kurt wanted to talk about the whole raid thing. They said that I was as guilty of murder as those that did the killing, because I knew they were gonna do it."

Nancy sees the Bamf and suddenly gets very angry. She reaches out for it, grabbing it by the tail. "Give it back, you furry blue freak!" she yells, taking her anger out at Kurt on poor Moe.

*

Well Moe certainly wasn't expecting that! Glowing yellow eyes go wide as it squirms, smacking at the hand that's got its tail. "Bamf! Bamf! Illl-eeeee!" Moe wails and then *bamf*, it appears on Illyana's shoulder, hiding in her hair as it pouts over Nancy's way.

Illyana arches a brow, both at Nancy's slice of info and then more as she tries to assault the bamf. "Well. Someone's testy." She turns towards the coffee table she's sitting on the floor next to and pours herself a generous amount of vodka. Then she pours some in another glass and nudges it over towards Nancy.

"So Kurt…" She says, slowly, as though she missed something somewhere. "Said because I'm a demon you can't trust me." Yeah, there was some stuff there about Nancy too, but her first reaction is the stuff about her.

*

Jericho shrugs. "Apparently." Which is odd considering how frankly solicitous Kurt was of Illyana when he came home to thrashed apartment a week or two back. Odd indeed. But, he also gets that these people seem to have strong opinion on violence and he's the first to admit that strong opinions sometimes twist your perceptions of a matter. He's got strong opinions on violence as well, and it's applicability to a certain class of people in many forms.

The assault on Moe doesn't at this point surprise Jeri, given Nancy's state. Also, he was fairly sure she wasn't going to do more than hurt the thing's feelings.

K'nert takes the chance to take another spoonful of ice cream. By the almost amused hissing, he appears to be gloating.

*

Glowering at the Bampf in Illy's hair, she looks to see if K'nert has the spoon. She nods to the ugly furless cat demon and takes the spoon back, giving him an extra large helping. The Bamf, probably having known Nancy from the mansion, would know this sort of behavior is not like her at all. She always liked the bamfs, even buying *them* whiskey on her 21st birthday.

She nods, sighing as she frowns. "I don't remember much. I was sorta emotional. Trying not to cry, then crying and screaming, trying to drive and cry at the same time. But yeah, he said not to get involved with demons."

And really, Illyana's the only demon game in town, as they say. Or don't. Because it's a kinda awkward turn of phrase but there you have it.

*

Given her recent visitor, she frowns lightly, wondering if this wasn't really *Kurt*, but some other version of Nightcrawler. She looks over at Moe, which is hard because he's almost in her face, and frowns.

"You'd know if it was a stranger in the Mansion, right?" But she doesn't sound terribly sure. But if what Nancy says is right, and he's telling people not to trust her? She takes a hearty swallow of vodka before pushing on to a less troublesome topic.

"So you got the 'guilt by association' speech huh?" Hey, Illyana lived there for four years. She knows all the Speeches that the X-Men like to give.

*

Jeri's gotten that speech a few times. Usually on the 'you are bad for x because' end. Not any time recently… well no that's not true. A SHIELD Agent did it to him recently. Over someone who can frankly take a lot better care of herself than can Nancy. Seriously. May's no slouch in that department.

Right now, though, Jericho just leans back and eats some more. There's something he's gonna broach with Illyana at some point and Nancy might as well be around for it but it's poooooosible that now's not the time.

*

Nancy takes the glass of vodka and takes a fairly hefty quaff of it, then makes a face. She, unlike her mother, has never been much of a drinker.

"Yeah. And apparently, I am guilty and need to stop associating with the people that made me that way, like Jer and Parti. I… I was," she hangs her head and heaves a sigh. "I was gonna go with it when it was just Parti they wanted. And I feel bad for that. I mean, she's awful, but … she's the one that got me started in the direction I'm in now. Without her I wouldn't have met Jer or you or… No, I would have met you. Just wouldn't have liked you."

*

Illyana gnaws on a piece of pizza and then grimaces. Making a face she picks out the piece of pineapple and offers it over to Moe. The bamf sniffs, but then he too turns up his nose. Apparently, it doesn't rank as being worth eating. Like whiskey. She then takes some time to pick off all the pineapple.

"There is a certain amount of guilt that comes from letting folks get killed. Standing by and doing nothing." Illyana says, her manner very matter-of-fact. "But at the same time, there are times that you have to do what you have to do."

Always practical, is Illyana. "So tell me. You pissed that they're disappointed in you? Or you disappointed in yourself?" Illyana asks, taking another big bite of pizza, as if they're talking about the weather, and not a whole potential mental crisis here.

*

'Huh.' A small part of Jeri's mind says. 'Illyana doesn't like Hawaiian.' He thought everyone did. Interesting. So noted for future reference.

Jericho had been more or less in the process of asking Nan that question himself. If Nan were disappointed in herself, maybe she had some things to work through. If it was just disappointment in them… well maybe also some things to work through but potentially less serious in his mind.

K'nert is… indulging. The only thing better than the taste of ice cream and victory is being able to rub it in someone's face.

*

Nancy gives Illyana a glare as she hits the matter right on the nose. "Sometimes I just hate you," she says in that way that implies just the opposite.

"They just… yeah. Those people… I didn't want anyone to die. I mean, sure, they're HYDRA and they experimented on my mom to create me and another 19 like me and imprisoned them and their family members as collateral, but I didn't want them dead. Not really. Punished, yes. Hurt, yes. But dead? The raid… I know that Jericho and Parti said they were doing it with or without me, but… if not for me, they wouldn't have even known about it. I feel… responsible. Like all those deaths are on my head."

*

"See. That's the difference between you and me. Well. A difference." Illyana holds up a hand to forestall Nancy from butting in quite yet.

Illyana picks up her glass of vodka and uses it to gesture at Nancy. "You are a good person. Because you care. You hurt. Remember that. Don't let it go. When it stops hurting…" She lifts a shoulder and sips at her vodka.

"Well. Anyhow. I'm not going to say you should feel better because you didn't actually do it. You knew, so you'll always feel that." Well, unless she ends up going through the kind of Hell that most of her closest friends have. The kind of thing that leaves you with enough emotional scar tissue you can't feel quite so good anymore.

"But I am going to tell you that you are not responsible for the actions of others. Even if you stand by. Even if you knew. Every action affects another. Walking out your door five minutes earlier could mean a semi hits a school bus. You can't do that. Be responsible for your own actions."

*

At that Jericho nods. "Nan you made the best of a very imperfect situation." Frankly, they all did. "If we'd had more time or more people we could have done it with fewer deaths. Possibly no deaths. As it stood? We were running a very unpredictable clock out and had gotten all the support we could under the circumstances. Sometimes life doesn't give you an option you like. It sucks, but that is how it is."

He sighs and glances over to Illyana and then back to Nancy. "And you're not responsible for me. Or for Partisan. Or Ange or Sara or anyone. We all made our choices. Hell, Nan I could have decided I didn't care about you enough to warn you way back when this all started. I could have decided I'd done enough helping you get to safety and not run the leads down. You're not responsible for that. I did that because I chose to care." And he continues because he chooses to continue to care.

*

Downing the last of the vodka, Nancy listens to Illy and sighs. She can't help but chuckle. "Does the irony of a demon queen giving me emotional advice not strike you as funny?"

She then does something likely more dumb then the whole concept of giving her soul to Illyana. She grabs K'nert and gives him a cuddle. Okay, the vodka couldn't have hit that fast. She must be desperate for affection then.

"I don't know what I did to deserve you guys, but I've made my decision. Kurt can suck my … Well, I don't have one, but I'll go and buy one on Amazon, just for him."

K'nert squeals and squirms and flails, looking over at Illyana with great bit beseeching 'HELP ME' eyes. To his credit, K'nert doesn't bite, scratch, or otherwise injure Nancy. Probably because she's been feeding him ice cream and despite his appearance, K'nert is pretty damned smart. And he really likes ice cream.

*

Illyana is trying hard not to laugh. Which results in smothered snickers. "Oh geez Nan, Jericho's right there. And I'm willing to bet he's way more cuddly."

More seriously, she tells Nancy, "You made others, with greater resources than yours, aware of the problem, right? The best equipped people that you knew of. And then you worked with what you have. Don't judge the people that didn't give you more, and they shouldn't judge you for doing what you did. You don't know everything from their side and they sure as hell don't know everything from yours."

Illyana makes an annoyed sound. "Lotta that going on lately." She grumbles.

*

BY THE ABYSS!!! WHAT THE HELL DOES SHE THINK SHE'S- oh this gets me closer to the ice cream. Score. Knert does a face plant into the quart of rocky road and begins to nom. And he stops flailing and scrabbling. He does not look fearsome nor particularly demonic right now. Smug perhaps, but he's always that.

Illyana's grumble gets Jeri's attention though. "Something on your end?" Something related to one of the issues that's been dogging her lately? He's been vaguely aware of a couple. And very acutely aware of the one that trashed the place a couple weeks back.

*

Nancy smirks as K'nert starts to see things her way. She lets him eat the ice cream as she strokes his bony, furless back. "Gonna take you with me to Hot Topic," she coos to the demon. "Let you scare the crap outta all the goth wannabes." Yeah, Nan is feeling better now.

She arches a brow to Illyana. "What's been happening on your end? Want me to tazer someone in the nards? Cause I would totally do that for you."

*

Illyana makes a dismissive sound, waving her hand. "No, no. Just like, dealing with that guy at the bar. People make their assumptions, don't think about all the other parts of a person they can't see and don't know. We're each like icebergs y'know? What most people see, hear, learn, it's just this small little piece. They don't make the effort to learn about the experiences that make us who we are, that guide the decisions that we make."

*

Ah yeah. Manning. The reason Jericho avoiding another potential ally. "Oh yes, right…" He gets up to gather any unused dishes up and put them in the sink for later washing. Then comes back with a fresh bottle of vodka since this one seems about done and sits down in the chair he'd pulled up so he can look at both women at the same time. K'nert is still happily munching.

"Well we deal. As best we can." They've all three of them had to, and doubtless will again.

"Illyana, changing topic slightly, Nancy and I had been considering something that to be honest we should probably talk to you about."

He glances over at Nancy to see if she's up for discussing this before returning his gaze to Illyana.

*

Nancy listens and absorbs the wisdom of the others. She continues to stroke and cuddle K'nert like a regular cat, knowing full well that as soon as the ice cream is gone, he will go back to being a dangerous menace. She reaches into a pocket and pulls out one of her booze flavoured lollies for Moe, making amends. "Irish cream flavoured," she tells him.

Jericho gets a glance, her eyes growing wide. She nods her head, ready to be told that this idea is stupid.

*

Illyana sits hunched forward over the coffee table, eating pizza as Moe creeps his way across her shoulders, making his way through her hair like it's some kind of jungle obstacle he must overcome. She gives a grunt and then a bit of a growl. As Moe leeeeeans out to get the lolli, one foot on Illyana's shoulder, the other holding onto some of her hair like some kind of golden rope she notes, "You're trying my patience, elf. And so help me if you get that in my hair…."

Moe decides that perhaps now would be a good time to make off with his treat and disappears in a *bamf*.

The topic shift has her arching a brow and looking between the pair. "Oh? You're not signing demonic contracts are you? That's always bad news."

*

Jericho chuckles a bit at Illyana's warning. Yeah. That'd be interesting. He doesn't let K'nert perch on him for… obvious reasons. And he has far less hair to mess up.

"Not, not signing demonic contracts. Not that there are many I know of who would offer to me anyway, if I don't very much misread things." Because he is after all quite marked and her reaction to the thought of Seraph 'poaching' him would probably have been much more violent had it been a demon of some kind.

"Nancy and I were wondering, one night, if it is possible to donate pieces of our… souls to you. And, if we could, if that'd even help."

Knert is about out of ice cream. He's on a bit of a sugar high though, his cat slitted eyes kind of… pinpoint. And lazily satisfied.

*

Nancy smirks at the display Moe presents. She's smiling again, so that's a good thing. She lazily sits and stroke K'nert, waiting for Illyana to blow up. "We thought… well, actually, it was initially my idea, but.. well you only have 2/5's of a soul. If we each gave up 1/5th of ours, then the three of us would have 4/5's. It's … a thought.

*

Illyana's chewing slows to a stop, her cold gaze resting on Jericho. Equally slowly, she looks over towards Nancy. Then back to Jericho. Then back to Nancy.

Did you two get hit on the head during this mission of yours and not tell me? She demands of them. "I'd say your joke is in poor taste but I know the pair of you well enough to know that's not something you'd joke about. Which means that you're serious. Which means that somewhere, somewhen, you two ended up brain damaged." She says, her temper heating her words.

*

Nancy looks over to Jericho. "I told you she wouldn't like it."

*

Jericho glances at Nancy. That was… more or less the reaction he expected. However while he still thinks he disagrees with Angelo on a fair number of fronts, the conversation with him did make the hacker realize that Illyana very much deserved to be in on this. If for no other reason than it is after all her her soul they're talking about frankensteining.

"Angelo seemed fairly convinced that were, somehow, this to be accomplished, it could kill the bits of soul you have left." He's not sure he believes that, and not sure Ange would know for certain, really, but if anyone might, it'd be Illyana.

"Or, conversely, it could link the three of us for all time and then you'd never be able to get rid of us. It's be like getting married, only worse, cause if we suck, you wouldn't be able to divorce us." Yeah, she's using off-colored humor to shrug it off, but then grows serious.

"Illy, you only have a small bit of your soul left, and yet, you have shown me more kindness and understanding then I probably deserve. I just… I want to give you something to protect you. To protect that little piece of my best friend, so I don't ever lose you."

*

Illyana can just feel a headache coming on. She rubs at her temples and tries some calming breathing. "You realize you're talking about getting married to your brother right?" Illyana says over to Nancy, her tone dry. Finally, she lets out a long breath.

"Alright. It would probably take me a good month to even try to explain all the badness that is involved in giving up a piece of your soul for any reason. Let alone binding it, somehow, to something in direct contact to the Elder Gods. So. I'm not going to yell." She says, in an oh-too-calm sort of manner. "I'm not going to scream and rant. You just… have no idea what you're suggesting." Ahh, innocence.

"Nor do you understand the value of what you have." There's a subtle change in her tone then. An almost wistful, and still pained air to it. "You feel it. Like an itch you can't quite scratch. But the worst part is when you don't notice it anymore. When you've gone numb to it missing."

Illyana looks over to Nancy then. "I like you, Nancy. You're someone I consider a friend. If someone hurts you, I'll hurt them back. But when I walked in here tonight, and you're a hot mess from bawling your eyes out all over Jericho… Most of my responses are academic. And with you, I realize that something's missing. Or that I'm feeling a shadow of what I should be."

*

She's right of course and Jericho knows it. Neither he nor Nancy have a clue what they're volunteering to do, nor would either of them understand what they'd given up until it'd been lost. What Illyana perhaps doesn't understand is that Jericho is familiar with that very concept, and now so is Nancy. The innocence one looses when one goes to war, when one fights and kills and dies and watches sees friends messily killed whom you had shared a lunch and a laugh with scant hours before… yes Jericho knows what it is like to lose innocence.

Nancy's had a taste, and a bitter one too in Kush and more recently in the raid. She's feeling the pangs of that loss of innocence now. What they're talking about would be different. Worse, likely, but Jeri knows what he's looking at in form if not function.

And also, this is Illyana and there is no line he would not cross to help her. Well, save perhaps one she set herself. It'd depend, honestly.

"And laying the foolhardiness of it aside, Illyana, is it something that would help you? And if so, is it something that you'd even consider accepting of us?"

Because if she wouldn't there's not much point. It wouldn't be the act of a friend, at that point, to force the issue. And that's laying aside the fact that forcing issues with Illy is generally quite foolish.

*

Nancy looks over at Jericho and starts to smirk. "Well, he's not my biological brother, so at least we don't have to worry about the kids looking like Cousin It. Besides, I'll let you do all the fun stuff with him. I got Bobby."

She listens quietly, stroking K'nert, who seems to have gotten compliant, in her lap. If anyone knows about souls, it would be Illyana. She sighs, looking pained at Illyana's own wistful tone.

"So, what you're saying is… talking to me makes you notice that your soul is missing and that that's actually a *good* thing?"

Jericho gets a nod as he speaks. "And yeah… what he said."

*

"Pain isn't always bad." Illyana says, her words soft. The flickering candlelight seems to help make the quiet words easier to hear, with everything cast into soft, warm light and softer shadows. "It reminds you of things you've lost. And that you're still alive."

The pizza is forgotten now, and instead there's the clinking of glass as more vodka is poured all around. "I don't know what kind of effect it might have, trying to stitch together pieces of a soul, but I don't think it would be good. A soul is… beyond personal. It might be like trying to give someone the wrong blood type, you know? Everyone just has their own type, and that's it. But even if I thought it would be safe, and that it would help me. No. I won't take from you. Not that. Because I know too well what it is to loose it."

The wan smile she gives them throws eerie shadows across her face in the flickering light, and she lifts her glass. "To fools, who would rush in where angels fear to tread."

*

Well that more or less answers that. Though it may not hurt to do some follow up, if only because Jericho is something of a boyscout and the time may come when circumstances are more dire.

If anyone's listening up there, that's not an invitation. Jerks.

Nodding has acquiescence of the subject with a small half smile Jericho lifts a glass.

"To fools. And to those who are worth such risks."

*

Nancy reaches over to pick up the glass of vodka and raises her glass. "To me!" she responds. "And Jericho who thinks my ideas aren't that dumb. And to Illyana who is totally worth risking my soul for." She takes a hefty swallow of the vodka and ruminates for a moment, her lips pursing in thought.

"So, it would seem that garden is just gonna have to get lots of extra lovin'. Do you think it would work if the people didn't know who the sapling was for and just poured their love and well wishes into it? Cause I got a farm and about 30 people. Growing a sapling could be a good thing for them for their own healing."

*

So, this is the first that Illyana's heard about having people grow saplings for her. Also, she hadn't really stopped to think that he might be talking about his gardening excursions. Mostly because, well. It's gardening. Hardly a hilight of anyone's day.

Illyana quirks a brow upwards as she watches Jericho over the rim of her tumbler as she takes another drink. She doesn't even say anything. She doesn't figure she needs to.

*

Ah, well this one Jericho's a lot less worried about telling her about. "Experiment in gardening magic. I asked Nancy to plant a sapling as for you, sort of as a favor to a friend. She was going to tend it for a couple of months, sort of taking care of it for you, and then I was going to try transplanting it to Limbo. It's seemed to me my last few times in that why I'm doing something and how much work I'm putting into it matters almost as much if not more than what I'm actually doing." Though extending the water network, that's definitely key. Also a lot of work so, maybe chicken and egg there…

He grins over at Illyana sheepishly and hitches his shoulder in a half shrug. "I wanted to see if the care and effort and friendship transferred over. Or made any difference at all." Jericho's sort of making half-educated guesses here because he's pretty thin on actual magic theory. It doesn't help that the rules are… very inconsistent.

"And I'm not sure Nan. But I figued you might know a few friends who were close to her like the two of us. Or, you know, something akin to that. Beats me if the care and well wishes of strangers would work. Hell, I don't even know if this will."

*

Nancy O'Neal says, "Well, I was gonna ask Amara and Doug, but I didn't get to say goodbye to them before I did my suicide drive to your place." She finishes her second glass of vodka and then picks up her phone, quickly texting.

<Heya cold stuff. My little ice cube. My yummy snow cone. Been drinking. Won't be driving. See you tomorrow after work.>

"So, we'll try a bit of both. People who know and love her and people who just wanna help.""

*

Illyana hitches a shoulder at Jericho, giving him a faint smile. "It's… all out there." She admits. What they're doing? It doesn't even follow the rules of normal magic! And it's nothing she's used to dealing with.

"I suppose, it's not like it can hurt, hmm?" Illyana remembers what it was like before. When there was no real green. Save for Ororo's garden.

*

Jericho smiles and then rises, moving the pizza box out of the way and turning on the TV with a wave of his hand. K'nert gets picked up off Nan's lap and sit down somewhere he can scuttle off. "Okay, out of the way you. I've got two of the best people in the world in my apartment, plenty of snacks and vodka and I think maybe it's time for a good movie, hrm?"Jeri plops down next to Nancy and invites Illyana to come over next to him if she likes.

"So… what do we wanna see?"

For a time, perhaps a short one, it's not a safe house. It's just a home for three slightly broken, mildly insane friends.

And right now that's all it needs to be."


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