Rock Rituals

Summary:
August 12 2014: Jericho is relaxing. Illyana drops by to have a chat.

FDR Boardwalk

A nice, now mostly empty, beach and boardwalk.


Characters

NPCs

  • K'nert

Mood Music:
[* None]


Just some takeout from an italian place (meatballs and sauce. Very good pan fried meatballs at that), a bit of gadorade, some vodka if he needed it, and the Long Island Sound. Oh and pebbles. There's quite a bit laying around and Jericho is skipping them off the sound while his food gets lukewarm. It's been a dogs age since he's done anything like this. It's actually kind of fun. He's not even really thinking about anything, like he often does when he goes to be alone. He's just kind of… processing. Letting stuff sink in while he marks another day of being alive - no mean feat for him, apparently. Even when he doesn't go lookign for trouble it tends to find him. Like the murderous computer who tried to hack his brain.

*

A flare of light and Illyana steps through a stepping disk. It's August, so it's starting to get a bit cooler but not so much that more than a hoodie is needed. Which Illyana is wearing. Along with a T-shirt she probably swiped from Jericho as it looks familiar, is a bit too big, and doesn't have a heavy metal band on it. She's got jeans and 'her' boots, which make crunchy sounds on the rocks as she walks over towards him in long, easy strides. "Different scenery tonight." She notes, tucking some of her hair back as the blonde length is tossed about by the breeze.

*

He half turns at the light and voice, smiling when he sees who it is. "Hey Illyana. Yeah, just wanted to enjoy the night in some small way. Clubs aren't really my kind of scene, or bars. I don't really want to do things to get me noticed either, so… This seemed nice. Used to do this kind of thing at a creek near my house when I was younger." Jericho throws another rock and it skips one, two, three times over the water before sinking down. He lets out a kind of satisfied sigh.

"How are you doing tonight?"

*

Illyana finds a rock to sit on, stretching her legs out one over the other and leaning back on her arms, palms resting on the rock as well. She looks around, up and down the waterfront. "Where are we, anyhow?" One thing with teleporting everywhere. You loose a that knowledge of location, where you are in relation to other things. His sigh gets her attention back over his way and she chuckles. "Well. You're just radiating contentment tonight." The question gets a hitch of her shoulder. "Alright I suppose." 'Good' never seems within reach.

*

"Upper East Side…" Jericho gestures to the nice houses visible a ways back from the road. "Nice neighborhood, really. And yeah, I'm content. No one has shot at me today and my friends are all safe." He glances back to Illy as he skips another rock. "Well, so far as I know they are, anyway. I don't get many days like this."

Illyana's alright gets a nod. Alright seems to be as good as it gets for her. Which he understands. There are long periods of time where 'alright' seems as good as it gets for him too.

"There's some meatballs in that tin if you're hungry."

*

Illyana chuckles at him. "Always looking out for me, hmm?" Her lashes stay low, watching him through the fringe of them. "What about you, Jericho? When's the last time anyone's taken care of you?" She doesn't see friends bringing him food, or making sure he's slept. And she knows that she tends to be more a taker than a giver, when she takes the time to think about it. One of those things that, sadly, comes naturally to her.

*

Another stone splashes into the river. Four skips that time. "My friends watch out for me." Jericho says with a small half smile on his face. One she can't see until he turns around, rubbing two flat stones together in his hand. "I seem to remember someone casting some white magic to make sure I didn't have to hurt anymore a bit back. Don't think I didn't notice where those burns went either."

Illyana's not wrong. Partisan will worry after him sometimes, and Nancy will too but generally not like he keeps after Illyana. Which isn't bad, it's just how it is. And yes, Illyana tends to take things. Vodka, food, his seat. He's offered those things to her, though, so he doesn't mind. And she does give back in her way. And he does notice.

*

"That's different. You were hurting. It's easier to give when someone's hurting." Illyana says, as though trying to dismiss something that is, rather, out of character for her. She's not terribly comfortable with recognizing her own acts of charity or kindness. "Kinda like how after 9-11 people donated their tax refunds, or all went out to donate blood. It's the caring for someone when it doesn't look like they're in need that tends to show you a person's worth." Which again, is another bit of a hit against her, given how little she can empathise with people, let alone care for them.

*

"It's still taking care of me." Jericho's been at this long enough to recognize the signs that Illyana's getting a bit uncomfortable, so he walks over and opens the tin of meatballs and marinara. A couple forks were provided. He appropriates one, and the appropriates a meatball.

Behind him, K'nert examines some flat stones trying to figure out just what the hell kind of weird ritual this crazy human is doing. He picks up one, tosses it… yeah, this is stupid.

Caring is, at least in Jericho's mind, as much about what you choose to do as it is how you feel. Yes, he likes Illyana. Yes, he thinks she's special in ways he probably couldn't define if he were asked. But he chooses to care. And like most choices, it gets easier the more he makes it. Though… it's probably a bit different for Illyana.

"Maybe…" Similar to her, a discussion of worth as it applies to him is a bit… odd, maybe a bit uncomfortable.

*

Illyana leans over enough to watch K'nert, the slight tremble to lips set into a line makes it clear she's trying not to smirk. Or laugh. Or maybe snicker at the little demon. She glances to Jericho. "He behaving?" She asks in a bit quieter voice, so that he doesn't overhear. It's also a change of topic from one that was clearly starting to become a bit uncomfortable for them both.

Illyana is very much about actions over words. Saying you're a friend or that you care doesn't mean much if it isn't shown. But because she has such trouble with emotions, what someone feels doesn't always explain much to her. It's not something tangible, not something she can be sure of.

*

Jericho glances back to K'nert and then quickly looks back to Illyana before he can start smirking or laughing. Visibly, anyway. "So far as I can tell. He's in and out as he pleases but no one I know is dead and he generally is about when I'm looking for him. And he's learned not to try frightening my friends. Though… if I get pissed off at someone he's likely to jump on their heads." He's not sure if he can sense his emotional state or… what.

"Are yours?" Does he need to go help her with anything, is what that mostly means. Demons, he's found, don't like digital claws.

*

Illyana lifts a shoulder a bit. "Probably less so, but there are more of them. And they're bigger. The ones that are big and not-so-bright think they can take me." She smirks over his way. "It doesn't usually take long to remind them that they really can't." It takes a lot more than one uppity demon to take down Limbo's Darkchilde.

While he eats and looks out over the water, Illyana watches him. Her expression doesn't really give much of what she's thinking away, enigmatically blank.

*

Jericho does eat. This is kind of dinner and while there's certainly more than he needs, he gets a good five or six of the things down while he watches traffic in the Sound. The little picnic area has gotten quite dark, though the street lamps and florescent lanterns along the path behind them provide more than enough light to see by.

*

"Penny for your thoughts?" He says at length. There's a pinging sound a little flat disk of copper spins up toward Illyana. A familiar one, if she recalls.

And they're both of them too used to the dark and the shadows.

*

Illyana's hand snaps out, evidence of the quick reactions that most don't ever see her demonstrate. She rubs the coin between thumb and forefinger without looking down at it. Identifying the sides by the feel of it under the pad of her thumb.

"Just trying to figure you out I guess." Illyana says, a toss of her head to get her hair back out of her face as she turns to look over the water now, so that if he turns to look at her, she won't have to meet his gaze.

*

"I'm not a real complicated guy, Illyana." Jericho smiles. He does glance over for a moment before his gaze also returns to the water. "Or at least I like to think I'm not." There's a breeze ever so briefly. Mmmm. Nice to feel those. Not quite often enough in some parts of the city where the still air and humidity can get pretty unbearable.

"Though, you know, you can always ask. I can't think off the top of my head of a question I wouldn't answer for you."

*

"Too trusting." Illyana chides him lightly, giving a sidelong glance to the hacker. "One day I'll make you sorry for it." She tries for joking. It doesn't work terribly well. She sees too much truth in that future.

"People like to think they're altrusitic… But they usually aren't. Not really. Even things like, volunteering or donating to whatever. I looks good on a resume. It makes people think better of them. It makes people like them. You take that a bit above and beyond." She digs around in the pocket of her hoodie, coming up with a roll of cinnamon mentos and offers him one before tossing one K'nert's way.

*

Jericho doesn't exactly hear a question in there. Then again he doesn't particularly think of himself as altruistic either. "Mmmm, yes. It does tend to benefit them somehow." He accepts the mento and pops it in his mouth, chewing thoughtfully for a bit. He does so love cinnamon. And ginger. Both of those.

K'nert scampers over to get the tossed treat and then goes back to examining the rocks. Seriously. What's with this guy?

Jericho doesn't have any illusions that Illyana is likely to be a source of pain for him at some point. But then, the same could be said of any of his human friends or contacts. The nature's just a bit different with her. "Maybe too trusting… but I've not been given cause to regret it."

*

Illyana pushes up to her feet from the rock, turning so she's facing him with a smirk. "You like taunting me." She remarks dryly as she reaches out for for the buttons on his shirt, starting to undo them.

From most women this would probably be the start of foreplay.

*

For once, that's something Jericho actually has very little reference for. Certainly none recent. He watches, braced back on the table, half seated, half leaning on it, with a small smirk to match hers - well okay, not quite match - and a curious hint to his gaze.

"I like mentioning that being your friend hasn't been bad for me." Because he likes her, because he wants others to agree and because, honestly, he wants her to agree too.

*

Once she's managed to undo a good half of the buttons, Illyana places her hand with fingers splayed wide against the center of his chest. She knows what will happen, as his traces start to glow that dull red where she touches him. "You're only picking up trace amounts now, Jericho. But how long until it starts to build up? Like radiation?" Her gaze moves from his glowing skin to meet his eyes, her own lit oddly in the darkness by his traces.

*

Jericho's traces spark to life with Illyana's touch as always, the familiar red glow soon in evidence. He's got no idea where the magic he's been picking up has been going, but he's fairly sure, given comments about how he seems more and more touched by the demonic from people who would know that the answer isn't 'away.' For that matter, he's not entirely sure how much he has. If he's saved magic, even a bit of it, from every spell he's ever been hit with, plus all the hanging around with Illyana and in Limbo, it's possible he has a fair bit. He just… doesn't know.

He watches for those shifting shadows in her eyes, the way the shade from lighter blues down darker and darker. "I couldn't say… but it hasn't hurt me yet."

*

"So you'll just keep going, heedless of the danger, until it actually hurts you hmm?" Illyana steps in closer, her jeans brushing against his as she steps between the spread of his knees. She still has her hand there, the red casting eerie shadows on her face. Her eyes are shadow-dark, glints of purple from the red touching the blue of them.

*

"The only way I see to avoid it is to move away from you. And I won't do that for this. It's a risk, I know but…" Jericho's said it before. She's worth the risk. It's a risk, even with her mark, every time he goes to Limbo alone, or learns more demonic. It's a risk inviting her to share his homes. "But understand, please, that you are worth the risk."

It's at this point he finally returns the touch, setting a hand along her side and just keeping it there. "People like you, people willing to keep trying in the face of so damn much being against them. I can't think of a single other that I know. Every friendship hurts at some point. Heck, any relationship of any kind does, if it goes on for long enough. The ones that matter you stick it out for."

*

Illyana never seems to shy away or flinch from his touch. She doesn't glare at him like she often does others who even get close to touching her.

K'nert has been watching, even if somewhat side-eye while he tries to figure out this stone-throwing ritual and what Jericho was hoping to get out of it. Mostly because it gives him something to occupy himself with. His mistress though, is always of far more interest. He finally tromps over with the clicking of claws on worn stone and says something in that hissing, sibilant sort of tongue.

Jericho can see her jaw tighten, ever so faintly but she doesn't say anything back to K'nert. Maybe he wasn't actually saying anything.

*

"I know I may hurt because of this," Jericho says. He hears K'nert but the demonling isn't as important as what's going om right now, so he doesn't spare him a glance. Besides, he can't understand a word the thing says anyway.

"I'm not blind to that possibility. And I don't mean to make things difficult for you." He rubs her side in a little circular motion. "But your worth it and I won't regret it. Any of it. Anything that's happened so far, and anything I risk in the future."

Jericho's not dumb. Just stupidly loyal. And… perhaps a touch crazy. But then, Illyana's told him as much before.

*

Illyana's hand slides up from his chest, and he feels her nails scrape over his throat briefly. She doesn't have false nails or keep them very long. Having seen her fight, knowing how often she does it, would likely be the reason. And maybe, long nails are too close to the claws she sometimes has in her demonic form.

Her hand slides upwards, thumb feathering briefly over his pulse before brushing the nape of his neck and then sliding upwards. Her fingers close, forming a fist. Trapping the short nap of his hair within that grasp as it draws his head backwards. She's leaning in towards him now, so he's looking up at her. The angle his head's at makes him very conscious of his breathing. He can hear the rush of it through his windpipe. She's silent though, and her eyes seem black in the darkness.

*

This… seems familiar. It's a fleeting thought though one that's most assuredly there. Then gone and Jericho couldn't begin to tell you why. He doesn't move, just watches Illyana's eyes, breathes evenly and does his best to keep his heart rate down. Were anyone else to try something like this, they might trigger ingrained, trained responses about dealing with that kind of a grip. With Illyana, trying to break her grip just doesn't seem to occur to him. Nor does any notion that she should stop, even though he doesn't know what she's doing yet. He simply trusts her, and waits."

*

K'nert speaks again in the background, and this time it's clear they're words. Just not words Jericho knows. Like he's enunciating them, the tone some odd mixture of coaxing and goading.

Illyana's other hand comes up, fingers brushing along Jericho's jaw and back towards his ear while her thumb slides against the very corner of his mouth. That kind of trust is hard to miss. Especially when one knows, like she does, just what she has under her hands. Someone that will fight. Someone that will bleed to keep from being forced to doing anything against their will.

By now she's almost crowding his space, her clothes rubbing against his in places. He can pick up the spicy/earthy scent of her shampoo as the breeze blows it about the pair of them like a gossamer curtain, can hear the quiet rasp of her breath. "Can you guess?" She asks finally in a murmur he has to strain to hear. "What he's saying?"

*

Jericho lets the arm on Illyana's side curl behind her and rest lightly there. He would fight, bleed and die rather than be forced, or letting others be forced. He's proven that. Under that light perhaps his trust doesn't make any sense, knowing who she is and what she's capable of and what her darker nature tempts her to do.

Jericho learned a long time ago that real trust often doesn't make sense.

K'nert actually… surprises him. He'd expected to hear venom or disapproval or the occasional thinly vield arrogant hate that he often does. The coaxing is… strange. He shakes his head. "No." He's quiet as well, the word so soft that the breath of it can barely be felt against her cheek, even close as she is.

"But it's never mattered to me what he says. Just what you say."

*

"Nothing is going to scare you, or convince you to walk away. Is it?" There's a sort of grimness to her tone. As though she were accepting something inevitable. She hasn't let go of him, her hold on his hair tight enough to ache while that same thumb sweeps back and forth almost soothingly. "You're just going to keep eating at me. A constant temptation that I know…" She trails off then, lips press into a hard line.

*

"I am occasionally known to be stubborn like that." He's tone still soft enough that Illyana has to be as close as she is to hear him. And, truth is, Illyana's known Jericho to be plenty stubborn like that. Just take a look at what he does for a 'living.' The arm that he curled around her is resting more or less on the opposite hip. Unlike her, there's no force behind the grip. Were she to decide to move away, there'd be no resistance. He's simply indicating his preference that she stay.

Plus it feels nice.

"Is it really so terrible?" There's a soft chuckle that accompanies the question.

*

Illyana's head tilts to the side a bit, even as the front line of her body is pressed against his. "Your stubbornness is going to let me do anything I want to you. Just because I want to. Because you think I'm worth it and no matter the cost to you. No matter how much you dislike it or don't feel the same. I appreciate the loyalty Jericho… But even loyalty should draw a line somewhere."

In the background K'nert makes a sound of disagreement.

*

Perhaps if Illyana really understood the kind of loyalty Jericho was raised with, and came to believe in after spending a third of his life fighting in third world hells, she might understand this now.

I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade.

Those are powerful absolutes. Always. Never. But she's right. Even loyalty like that draws a line somewhere.

"Loyalty does. Trust does not." Jericho's given her plenty of chances to hurt him, it's true. But by the same token, plenty of chances to not hurt him. Chances she keeps taking.

*

Illyana's free hand, the one not holding his head cocked back at that aching angle, traces upwards to follow the line of his cheekbone towards his temple. He can pick up, through the meagre light from the city and his traces and the path behind thim the way her gaze tracks her own touch. "I know. What you'll endure, because I want it. What you'll give, because you think I need it. And yet, it won't be enough." Her forefinger traces a line downwards from the corner of his eye.

*

The point is not, from Jericho's position, either the giving or the enduring - though he'll do both those things. The point is simply the offer. That knowing what she could do, he offers that anyway because she's still human, part of her, and needs to know that there are people, at least one, who will go that far to believe in who she is and what she does. That's not a thing he can really find words for right now, though, so instead he just offers up a simple, "I know."

*

Illyana looks at him for a long, silent moment. There is just the crash of the waves behind, the dull roar of the city. The sound of a horn across the water.

Finally her hold in his hair eases. She drifts a step back. Two. Pulling away from his light hold as he makes no effort to stop her. Her hands fall back to her side and the smirk she gives him seems forced. "It doesn't matter unless you actually want it too."

Cryptic perhaps, but Illyana seems to excel at that. She turns away then, the hair catching her long hair and making a pale banner of it as she walks away down that dark, lonely stretch of beach. He had been having a pretty good night, right?


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