Hellbound Housing

Summary:
August 13 2014: After dinner with 'Berto, Illyana and Jericho meet up with Amara.

Columbia Steakhouse, City Street

An upscale steakhouse near Colombia University/A street in one of the nicer parts of New York, at night.


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:
[* None]


Dinner and drinks it had been. Steak is good and good steak is even better. Good steak in a place with a nice atmosphere and a decent selection of drinks for those who want them? That's sort of the golden standard for steakhouses. Colombia is, as might be expected, not too terribly far from Colombia University so it's not at all uncommon to see college kids mixing just a bit with the Manhattan Upper crust.

Berto, eventually, had to call it a night. Curse of being the responsible businessman. That left the cyborg and the demon queen to themselves.

"So… you've got some nice friends." Jericho seems to mean it. "Glad you yoinked me out to meet 'em."

*

"Good thing you weren't in the shower." Illyana says rather dryly. Amara had texted Illyana earlier and, wonder of wonders the demon queen noticed sometime this century! She let her old roommate know that 'Berto was picking up the tab at Columbia, which is her way of saying 'drop by for free grub'. 'Free' is an important word when you're a college student. Or were, for so long.

"So Doug was able to help straighten out some of your tenoickies?" Illyana has moved to coffee for the evening, along with dessert. Not like she plans on sleeping any time in the next few days.

*

Amara looks a little flustered when she finds the table, though it can't be too bad - no tremors, at least. "I missed him didn't I?" she grimaces, turning a circle. "You know, suddenly the fact that 'Berto is responsible and busy and actually knows things is extremely…" She pauses, then clears her throat as she realizes Illyana still has company. "My apologies, I didn't mean to interrupt. I'm Amara," she introduces herself, offering over a hand.

*

"Some of them yeah. Made this thing work a lot faster. Still can't access certain things but that's probably cause it was bent out of shape for so long. That's quite a talent he's got. Well, all of them really."

Yes, he'd been impressed. Jericho himself is sipping on a hot tea. He does plan to sleep at some point in the next few days. At the moment he's wondering what it would take to keep her phone from flipping out with every hop through limbo.

A voice talking to Illy jerks him back to reality and he looks over with a smile, taking Amara's hand and shaking it. "Jericho Trent. Nice to meet you Amara. You're another friend of Illyana's I take it?"

*

"Well, I suppose 'faster' will likely keep you alive better eh?" Illyana says, taking a bite of her tirimisu when she hears Amara. She chuckles and shrugs. "Sorry, Amy. He got called off. But! If you're still hungry you can still order on his dime." Her head cocks over to the side a bit. "Did you need him for something in specific?"

*

"No," Amara wrinkles her nose at Illyana's question, perhaps a little more firmly than necessary. "Things just ran over in the danger room," she says with a flick of her fingers, sliding into a chair at the table. "And it is a pleasure to meet you, Mister Trent," she says with a polite dip of her chin. "Illyana and I are old friends, yes. From school, and then we roomed together through university. How did the two of you meet?"

*

"Illyana was doing a favor for a mutual friend of ours. Nancy O'Neal, not sure if you know her. She was making sure, I think, that I wasn't some kind of creepy stalker or anything like that. Kind of a long story." Really long story, but Jericho grins remembering it. "Anyway, she decided I was amusing and it went from there." He glances over to Illyana to see if she has anything to add. "Ah you're her roommate. Nice to meet you indeed then."

*

"So then I became the creepy stalker because it's summer, so I was bored." Illyana says without any sort of shame. Licking her spoon she looks over to Jericho again. "It's Amara's midlife crisis 'what do I do now!' that prompted Roberto's construction project." Yeah, she's smirking as she mocks her former roommate just a bit there.

*

"Ah, yes. I know Nancy," Amara nods to Jericho's explanation with a polite smile. "We all would prefer if she didn't have any creepy stalk- Illyana, it is not a midlife crisis when you are only twenty-two," she protests at her friend's explanation. "It's just…growing up. Or trying to. Besides, I doubt I really prompted 'Berto to do anything. He certainly seems to have his life under control."

*

"The man can make a decision, I'll give him that," Jericho grins almost wolfishly at Amara's assertion that Nancy should not have creepy stalkers. He's shot several.

"Well, motivation is motivation, Amara. Could be he was already kind of thinking about it and your showing up with the perennial post college question gave him the shove he needed. In any case, the idea coming along swimmingly." All that construction is certainly noticeable if something else.

"You know Berto from same place as Illyana?" He doesn't say the word 'school' out loud, figuring they may not appreciate it.

*

"Would anyone else put up with me like them if we didn't have that kind of history?" Illyana says, her tone a bit dry as she smirks over at Jericho. "I was telling Bobby that we shouldn't have the team living at the HQ. Too much Ivory Tower syndrome. It's a bit more dangerous living around people, but serves the purpose better, I think."

*

"You just want your New York City apartment experience," Amara smirks at Illyana, leaning back in her chair as though she'd prefer to be lounging. "But you're not wrong," she admits. "I just think you'll have a hard time convincing 'Berto to give up the penthouse. On the other hand, 'Berto's the one who actually has a life, so maybe I don't blame him. Yes, though," she adds to Jericho. "We've been through quite a bit together."

*

"So I've gathered," The hacker murmurs with a sip at his tea, grinning over to Ilyana as speaks. "I've heard that your group of friends used to make… mmm how did Illyana put it? 'Unauthorized excursions', was it? For what it's worth I think the space is good for you folks. It's nice living with friends but live and work together and eventually someone's going to grate on someone. Having separate places will go a long way toward alleviating that. And you'd be surprised how sympathetic people get just knowing that you have bills like everyone else."

Oh yes, Jericho knows about avoiding Ivory Tower Syndrome. "May I ask what you do these days other than…" He gestures. "This?"

*

"Well 'Berto was never going to live down with us anyhow. He wouldn't give up his penthouse. And I don't really expect him to. That's part of his life." Illyana says with a shrug. That's 'normal' for him. Even with generous salaries, none of the rest of them are likely to afford living quite like that.

*

"That's been the problem," Amara smiles ruefully to Jericho. "I've been helping out at the school, but I don't think I quite have the temperament to be a teacher full time. I majored in political science, but the situation where I am from is…extremely complicated. Well beyond my novice ability to address. And I found I missed our…unauthorized excursions," she adds, borrowing his term.

*

"Ahh." Jericho nods. Ah to be uncertain what to do next. He's sadly usually all too certain. He has a very large list that needs to be checked off before he gets to be uncertain. One of these days though…

"So political science and religious studies rooming together?" His grin slides toward an amused smirk. "Those must have been some interesting conversations."

*

Illyana gives a huff of amusement, leaning back with her coffee cradled in her hands. "Not like we were going to extoll the virtues of our majors at each other. Maybe complain about who had the more sucky reading list each semester…"

*

"I am always interested in Illyana's take on religious studies," Amara chuckles. "Although there were many times I was tempted to go to some of her classes and discuss the reality of certain pantheons of gods," she winks, rising as her phone buzzes. "And that, I think, is my cue. Jericho, it was very nice to meet you. I'll see you back at school, Illy?"

*

"Nice to meet you too Amara." Jericho waves. "I'll be seeing you around. Er, probably anyway." He smiles. Hopefully not in a way that gets her shot it. That's happened to a couple people he can think of.

*

Illyana shakes her head at Amara. "Nah, I probably won't be by the school any time soon unless someone needs a lift. Drop by 'Berto's though. He's already got digs for us." She doesn't say goodbye, because she plans on seeing Amara soon enough.

*

Jericho watches Amara leave and then turns back to Illyana. "That was your roommate for four years, mmm? Seems nice enough. You two still close, if you don't mind my asking?" He's watching her mood rather carefully, something nagging at him after last night though he can't place it.

*

Having finished with her coffee and desert and Roberto having taken care of the check earlier, Illyana gets up and heads out of the restaurant with Jericho. It's gotten fairly late in the evening but they're a fairly nice part of town and neither of them are usually worried about New York violence. "Depends how you'd define 'close' I suppose. Amara's from Nova Roma, which you might have heard of."

Or he might Google it as they walk. It made a bit of a splash in some of the National Geographic circles, but the 'country' is not a well-known phenomena. "She has a kinda old-world view of things. Like friendship and loyalty. I'm her teammate, and so nothing else really mattered but that. I can always trust her to have my back, but it's because of her sense of honor, as much as any personal feelings about me."

*

Nova Roma hasn't really been on his radar but a quick search tells him all he needs to know for his present purposes. "I see. That's…" Jericho pauses for a moment, trying to think of what it is. He knows he'd appreciate that kind of loyalty but… mmm. It's nice when it's personal. "That's nice. Good to know there's people you can count on." Illyana has a few, it seems which makes him feel better on some levels.

Though their… nervousness about her more demonic nature made him wonder a bit.

"Have they always been a bit… nervous about the Limbo parts of your life?" Possible that she kept them separate, after all. Or something. He'd certainly understand that desire.

Jericho steps around a pair walking the opposite direction and falls back in at Illyana's side.

*

One thing about walking with Illyana, people seem to part for her like the Red Sea. She doesn't tend to move around people, either coming towards her or coming up behind. Without even looking up the seem to skitter to the side a bit, some survival instinct telling them they should move.

The question gets a short bark of a laugh from Illyana. "Oh, this is nothing." She says with a smirk. "'Berto used to be terrified of me. When we were first in school together he didn't like being in the same room with me. He begrudgingly accepted that I was part of his team, and so he had to deal. Eventually he got over it." For her, what he saw today was kind of her 'as good as it gets'.

*

"Huh…" That information just sort of percolates in Jericho's mind for a while. Part of him gets it. He's seen her as the Darkchilde, defending the ruler ship of her kingdom. He knows, at least a bit, what she's capable of. It's frightening. Maybe he's just used to living with fear in various forms.

"Interesting." Is what he finally says. Ordinarily it's be more along the lines of 'sorry'. But these are her friends. And Illyana doesn't do sympathetic 'sorries.'

"So how do you see this working, this team?" She must believe in it at some level or he rather suspects she'd never have agreed to do it. Well… that or she's really bored.

*

"Well, 'Berto will have people handle the business side of it, negotiations, buracracy, etc. And I'm sure we'll get final say-so on if it's a job we actually want to do. Like in my case, it'll probably involve teleporting things around. A bit boring, but something I could get paid for and not have to ask anyone if they want fries with that. That should support things we want to do. Helping stop bad guys or disaster relief. I've noticed that a lot of superhero teams are really good at rolling in when a supervillain is attacking, but don't tend to show up when your town's about to be flooded. The Supers are really good at that. Superman, Supergirl and the like, but otherwise, if you don't have a local superhero, you don't get much love. And a lot of people's powers could be really useful. You know those miners, trapped like a mile underground a few years back? What if i were able to teleport to them? I knew someone that go like, turn into a ghost and take people with her. Could have gotten them out of there. And that's just the high-profile stuff."

*

Jericho nods, having gotten a sense of at least what a couple of them could do. "An omni-linguist could be all kinds of helpful in getting people to understand one another, or cracking important codes. And yeah, teleportation has a lot of rescue applications I'm sure." Berto mentioned being strong enough to throw a car around. Which, by the way, sometimes doesn't work out the way you'd want. He's tried. Couse… he was injured and angry at the time.

"Sounds like you're all going to do a lot of people a lot of good who wouldn't get help otherwise." He's smiling a little. That, in his mind, is the very definition of doing good. Helping those who won't get it if you don't.

*

They walk for a bit before Illyana speaks again. "I think it's something I need." She admits, her tone softer. "A lot of what I do, the things I end up getting involved in… it's dark. Secretive. Easy to slip down that slope you know?" Working to be a hero, even if it's a conscious choice over it being instinct, will help keep her on the side of the angels. Won't it?

"I know you've made it clear, I can make myself at home at your place." Or places as the case may be. She tends to stick to just the one. And by most people's thoughts she probably has. And yet there are none of her personal effects there. Nothing that would mark it as 'hers'. He can only tell she's ever been there by things missing (like vodka) or out of place.

"But I didn't want to, not really, on your generosity alone. I could pay you rent now… But I don't know if you want the kind of attention that might bring." She's not sure how much the public is going to look at them once the team goes 'live', but she recognizes it as a possibility.

(

Jericho has considered that angle, and came to the conclusion that it wasn't really any more risky than what he was doing now. As a balancing factor, even if he were recognized because of her, there's a significant deterrent factor in being seen with the member of a known metahuman team with a structure and - importantly - the ability to call for backup. Long story short? He's not especially likely to get shot at any more often. Maybe shot at by different people, but not any more frequently.

And really his list is so long by this point what's a few more bullet points.

The question of rent gets some serious consideration from him. His first instinct is to decline it. Buuuut… "We could work out a renting arrangement, if you'd like. I'd certainly welcome your company and if renting makes it feel…mmm… more right to you, I wouldn't turn the extra money down."

He looks over to her, observing now how the crowd kind of parts for her - meaning he doesn't need to watch where he's going as much. "Certainly, I understand the desire to stand on your own two feet." And he wouldn't take that away from her. Heck, that's one of the reasons he didn't stay at Parti's safe house.

*

Bullet points. With real bullets. Hooking her thumbs in her back pockets she looks over at him through the fall of her blonde hair. "I don't want charity. Especially when the need isn't that great." She can live in Limbo, after all. Crashing at her friends places once in a while doesn't count as charity to her, apparently. But moving in somewhere? Seems like it comes with a bit more… luggage.

There's another pause, just the sound of their steps and the city rushing around them. "Of course, I'm supposed to be giving you more space. Not less." So she doesn't keep exposing her to her magic. So she isn't tempted to hurt him.

*

Jericho hitches his shoulder on that, looking thoughtful. "That's ultimately up to you, really. But the truth, Illyana, is I haven't particularly felt like I wanted or needed more space."

He glances over again. "When I say that I enjoy your company I actually do mean that. So yes, no charity. Believe me I wouldn't insult you like that. If you'd like to move in, we'll work something equitable out. Certainly I do believe I'd like that, but this isn't really about that. It's your living arrangements after all." He pauses.

"Do I make you uncomfortable, Illyana?" This is likely related to the other night. Mostly she seems fairly at ease around him. But every once in a while…

*

There's that pause before she answers, but he's likely used to that in her speech patterns. She usually takes the time to think about what she's saying before actually doing so and doesn't care if people realize that fact. "Not like most people would think. You don't make me uncomfortable. Sometimes, knowing what you'd allow me makes me uncomfortable with myself."

*

He nods as they make the end of the block and he hits the button for the light. At this hour there's not much of a wait to get them walking again. "I think I understand that." He looks forward again for a moment, thinking, before back at her. "Well, it's up to you. I could say a lot about how you haven't hurt me, but that's not… real relevant to how comfortable you'd be living in the same place as me, is it? Please know, though, that I'd welcome you." Jericho runs his hand through his hair, realizing he's not quite sure where they're going. Not that it matters.

*

If Illyana had somewhere she wanted to be, she'd be there. The perks of being a teleporter. But sometimes, it helps to walk. To move. To give an outlet to the restless energy within for hard conversations. "Well, if at any point I make you uncomfortable, then you should tell me to leave." There's a soft sigh from the blonde. "And hopefully I'll listen." She says more quietly.

*

"If we get to that point, I will." Jericho nods. "And we'll deal with what we have to deal with." It's always a possibility, but… he's a lot less bothered by it than others might be. It occurs to him that perhaps he's less concerned by her demons (some of them quite real) because he's so used to hauling around his own. Sure hers are different and some of them come with claws but… there are some things that are the same in any language.

*

Illyana looks over at him with a smirk. Her blue eyes say that she doesn't believe for a moment that he will. He's already consigned himself to the fire and just hides with pretty smiles and nods. That smirk has a grim sort of edge, knowing that she's likely to be his downfall. And yet… she can't find the strength to just walk away.

*

His answering smirk says that he knows she's read him but in no way retracts anything. His though is a bit less… Russian. A bit less grim. Maybe it's because he honestly believes there's a way for this to turn out alright. Maybe he doesn't believe it's likely. Hope like that is often a long shot, but he didn't make it this far by believing his fate was sealed. Especially when it was.

Jericho stops and turns to her, both hands in his pockets before he finally offers one out. "So, what do you think?"

*

Illyana pauses with him and turns. She eyes that hand, and then the man with that faint, wry smile. She would tell him that he's going to regret it. But she's already told him that. Guess she'll just have to settle for 'I told you so' later. Well, him or his grave. He does have one all set up.

Illyana reaches out, putting her hand in his for a firm shake. "Deal."


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