Home is Where the Wards Are

Summary:
August 15 2014: Illyana takes Jericho up on his offer of a place to call home.

Riverbank West Suite 24F

Jericho's Safe House, a comfortable apartment with a deck and a 24th floor view of the Hudson


Characters

NPCs

  • K'nert

Mood Music:
[* None]


Jericho has had an interesting week. Granted, most of his weeks are interesting, but usually he seeks it out. This week had been interesting without him doing so, on the heels of a very busy week dealing with the fallout of his last big fight. Everything seems pretty settled now though and he's enjoying a late lunch at the apartment out on the deck with a certain dictionary and a sandwich. Oddly… he hasn't seen K'nert anywhere about in the last hour or so. Not unheard of but a bit unusual.

The day is a clear one though, if a bit windy up on the 24th floor. The door to the apartment is open to let it air out and there's a bit of music, just a light mix off of Pandora, playing in the background. It's almost normal. Well, except for the tracking algorithm displaying on the TV as he runs down some Hydra links and the various weapons subtly hidden throughout the house.

*

Given its daytime, Illyans'a appearance might actually be more noticeable to Jericho by picking up her phone suddenly hitting his network in that automatic search thing it does. If Illyana realized that Jericho can easily track her whenever she's on Earth, she might give him one of her Looks. Or maybe not. It's hard to tell with the demon queen. She spends a few moments looking at his rooms, actually, before coming back over to him with a light frown. One of her 'thinking' frowns, not an 'I'm pissed' frown.

"You sure you have room for me here? You have a lot of stuff." She observes.

*

"Most of it isn't mine," Jericho looks up with a smile that says 'it's nice to see you.' Illyana gets one of those pretty much every time she shows up. "The place came furnished, so most of it can be moved, re-arranged or gotten rid of as we need."

He gets up and comes inside, locking the demonic dictionary back in its case. "So yeah, just lemme know what you'd like to do and we'll make it happen." It helps that he has the stepping disk mistress here. Makes moving something that needs to go so much easier.

*

Illyana also comes with her own movers! They're just big and smell faintly of brimstone.

"I was gonna say, for a guy on the run, you gots a lotta stuffs!" His smile gets one in return, though much as he doesn't smile quite the same way anymore, hers is a quiet thing. "Am I interrupting your like, 17 minutes of relaxation time a day?" She teases, though it's an honest question. Her way of saying 'should I come back later'? Which is more consideration than even he normally gets.

*

Jericho comes out of the room he usually sleeps in, having put the book away. "Aside from the weapons, most of what I actually own fits in a green army duffle bag." Well, he's got more clothes now. That tends to happen periodically. Most of the rest of it burned down with his loft a few months back.

"And no. Today is supposed to be a quiet day so it's a good time, really." Supposed to be. These things don't always go to plan but it's early afternoon already and no one has shot at, tracked, traced or otherwise tried to make his life difficult. Nice change of pace really.

K'nert makes an appearance at this point, perching atop one of the bookshelves, catlike. "So what needs to go where?"

*

Illyana looks back at Jericho, amused. "It's your place." She reminds him. "I figured you'd just let me know what room I can stake out as mine and that's that. I wasn't going to make you rearrange your life."

When he mentions fitting his stuff in a duffle, she nods. "Most of my 'stuff' will stay in Limbo, given that it's like, grimoires and magical ingredients and stuff. No need to drag all of that here. Though…" Then she frowns and looks around. "Maybe we should pull everything away from the walls for a bit…"

*

"Sure…" That's interesting… "I was figuring you'd want the soundproofed room actually." Jericho points toward the one she first slept in when she stayed over. "You seemed to be most comfortable there. And I've already cleared out a lot of the essentials. As for re-arranging my life, sort of comes with having someone else in it. Bound to be a little shuffling around. But thank you."

Jericho walks over to the doorway of the room in question and peers in, standing aside so that Illyana can walk in and look around.

*

Illyana gives a faint sigh at the suggestion. "You already know I have nightmares." Something he shares with her, if not as often. "The main reason I don't like to sleep around people." People. Not just strangers. She doesn’t like the pitying look or attempts at sympathy that often comes. Or worse, when someone tries to tell her how 'they understand'. Normally, she can deal with that. She's of the firm belief that everyone has their own demons. Everyone's life is hard, just in different ways. But when she's coming out of her own personal Hell, with all her darkest impulses left raw and bleeding, she's not terribly inclined to think much of anyone and how 'bad' they've had it.

"Though it might be a good idea if I end up needing to do summonings I suppose… But I actually meant the whole place. We can put stuff back after."

*

Ah. "Oh well in that case take your pick of rooms. And sure, if you'd like to give me a hand we can get that done right now." He walks over to the bookshelf K'nert is on. Quite on purpose. Yes imp. He's doing this to troll you. K'nert glares at him.

The look he gives Illyana is not so much sympathy or understanding as one of shared suffering. She's seen him have nightmares as well and while he'll mention to the right people that he has PTSD, he doesn't let folks know the particulars.

*

It means they each know something of what they need to hear. Or not hear as the case may be.

Illyana clucks her tongue at Jericho. "Silly boy." She chides and snaps her fingers. A stepping disk flares in the middle of the room depositing a briefly confused-looking S'ym. Luckily he's only about eight feet tall, so he doesn't need to duck too much to keep from hitting his head. "That's what I've got servants for." Speaking of…

"K'nert, go find a jar and get me some fresh blood, would you?" Then, realizing perhaps she should be a bit more specific as he starts to gleefully scamper off, "Heyhey! Like, chicken. Maybe stray cat or rat or something. No people or pets!" K'nert's manner visibly droops at that, but he still disappears.

*

Jericho steps over by Illyana, partly to get out of the way and partly because why not as Sym is introduced to the situation. He vaguely remembers this guy from Limbo though he's pretty sure he never got an introduction. For which there is probably a very good reason. "Ah yes, how silly of me." She does, after all, have an army worth of demons to call on. Good thing the place is hard to spy on.

"Gotta be a bit direct with 'em, mmm?" He chuckles, noting K'nerts disappointment ant not being able to cause mayhem.

*

"You know the stories about genies and wishes? The one where you have to be careful what you wish for because they can find loopholes and twist it back on you? Those 'genies' were probably originally demons. They're very literal. But if you can get them to agree to something, it's usually pretty damned binding. Reasons why they tend to be vague about their agreements too. Never assume, with a demon."

"Whatcha need, boss-babe?" The huge, purple-skinned demon asks around the cigar clenched between his teeth even as he's eyeing Jericho over. "S'ym's seen boss-babe's boytoy before. Boys are wonderin' why y'r keepin' this one." He asks in a deep rumble.

"I need room to put up wards, S'ym." Illyana says, gesturing to the walls. "Just give me enough room to work on the outside walls." The extra commentary gets a frown over the purple demons' way, and this one is one of those 'I might be pissed' sorts.

*

Given the sheer number of people Jericho has been accused (usually angrily) of sleeping with, S'ym's labeling of him as a 'boytoy' doesn't really phase him. It also doesn't prompt a response because he remembers that Illyana needs to project at all times an appearance of being in charge in front of her demons. Besides, she has it handled. Instead S'ym just gets a tight smile as he pays attention to what Illyana's saying.

Wards. That makes some sense and it's one of the concepts he's familiar with from basic research into the magical. He doesn't have the first idea how they work, so this'll be interesting. He is kind of wondering how that'll interact with his tendency to absorb magic.

*

"Because I want to. Do I need any other reason?" Illyana asks her Lt. coolly. She doesn't bother to correct the label or the possible assumption that goes with it because she's not about to argue with her minions. That's just tacky.

S'ym gives a small grunt as he lifts and moves the bookcase all by his onesie without much sign of strain. Most of his effort seems to be going toward making sure not to break the thing more than actually lifting it. "'S new. Makes folk talk." Glowing eyes slide toward Jericho and the demon gives him a broad smile, full of sharp teeth. "Name's S'ym. Pleased t'meetcha." If only S'ym didn't say that like he was greeting his dinner.

*

"Jericho," The hacker replies quietly. He's not foolish enough to give his full name (though S'ym can probably find out) because… well oaky even if the dime store novels got that one wrong it still seems like a good idea. Nor is he interested into getting into a rankings fight with the demon. Partly because he's not entirely sure who would come out on top, partly because he doesn't want to wreck his apartment (again) and partly because he suspects that getting a rise out of him would reflect badly on Illyana."

Illyana gets a small smile just to reassure her that he isn't overly bothered. He wants to ask what they'll be warding against. Maybe when big, purple and smokey is gone.

*

Illyana catches Jericho's look, and gives him a small nod to let him know she understands. S'ym actually seems to know what he's doing and once it's clear Illyana's not going to share much more or be baited into conversation he makes quick work of the moving. He does after all, know what she wants. "Need S'ym t' bring you back anything, boss?"

Illyana shakes her head. "I'm not building Fort Knox. Just looking to keep prying eyes away." And maybe put a bit of an alarm in to boot. Once S'ym's sent back to Limbo Illyana looks ofer Jericho's way with a grim expression. "Try to avoid a brawl with that one. S'ym's the most physically capable of my demons." He could and has traded blows with her brother. Or at least, a version of her brother.

*

"I'll keep that in mind. Honestly I like to avoid fighting yours where I can and he seems to rank fairly high if I'm remembering the couple times I've seen him correctly," He's had to slap a few around on gardening trips, though mostly the hostile and stupid ones come from the reaches.

"So just to keep magical eye away?" Jericho examines the walls that were warded, curious to know if he'll be able to see them.

"I suppose there are other magical types out there, so that's probably a good thing." He's good about thinking of things, but that's not one that had occurred to him.

"Guess it is traditional to give the place a new coat of paint when you move in. Missed that one when I did," He jokes with a wink, just trying to bring the mood back up a little.

*

"He's top of the heap for my demons." Illyana admits. She hasn't cast the Wards yet, that'll take a while. Also, the blood that K'nert's fetching. "He knows I'm not a big fan of his though, so he doesn't want to piss me off too much. He gets by mostly because I don't have anyone to fill his place if I were to kill him."

The question gets a nod. "That trick where I would Scry you to figure out where you were? It's not too hard to stop, if you know what you're doing." She says, giving Jericho a wicked grin. "And if I'm spending my downtime somewhere, I don't want to worry about prying eyes and ears."

The joke about painting gets a snort of amusement.

*

Jericho chuckles and strolls over to the kitchen. "Well, while we wait for K'nert to get back…" There's clinking of glasses and moments later Jericho is walking back with two glasses of vodka. "Here. What's kind of plan did you have in mind once you're done with the wards?" He asks mostly so he can know what he can do to help. Moving furniture seems to be mostly handled but there might be something else he can do to speed the process along.

"For that matter… I like to think we know each other fairly well but is there anything you need me to not do now that you're gonna be living here?" Pet peeves or triggers he needs to watch out for. It's polite to not piss off your friend.

*

Illyana gives a slight shrug. "I've been living in a dorm for so long… And before that at a boarding school…" She hasn't really had somewhere that might be 'hers' for an unknown future aside from Limbo. "I figure I'll move in a bed and uh… Go from there."

Illyana gives Jericho a wan smile. "It's… kinda new."

The mention of roommate 'dos' and 'donts' have her thinking. "Well. Never come in without knocking if you don't want to run the risk of getting eaten." She says seriously.

*

She'd mentioned something vaguely like that the first night she slept here. "Right, simple enough."

Illyana's wan little smile draws a reassuring one from Jericho. "No worries. Rearrange the place as you need. Just holler if you need any help." He looks about. "Not that I think you will."

About this time K'nert reappears with a masonry jar full of fresh blood. He's being ever so careful with it… and the look on his face says that while collecting it was not as fun as it could have been, it was better than anything he's been asked to do in a while. Except for that one thing.

*

Illyana leans down so that she can accept the carefully-offered jar, petting K'nert in thanks. "Good job." She unscrews the lid and then moves over towards the wall. "I'll keep them low to the floor, so that they're less noticeable."

He might want to get creative with the furniture placement, but at least most of the exterior walls are in the three bedrooms. Less likely to be noticed by people that would ask uncomfortable questions.

"Take a load off. This might be a while."

Illyana doesn't use a brush, she uses her fingertips. Some of the symbols, Jericho's started to learn. It's not just about the symbols themselves either. It's their placement in relation to each other. Definitely not an easy language for someone to learn that's used to writing following certain rules. Even though the medium is blood, and the symbols are demonic, it's her white magic that Illyana calls on. The only type she has real access to on Earth. Hers is this odd fusion between the light and the dark that's rather unique to her nature. As she works her way around the apartment, the magic starts to build. Line by line. Layer by layer. Wards versus scrying, a subtle 'ignore me' compulsion to help afford them some privacy from prying neighbors. They're all small, passive spells. The type that she can afford the constant drain on her limited resources for.

*

Jericho can barely read little phrases of the wards, and definitely not large ones. Since he can't help with the writing, nor, he suspects, would he have the talent for it even if he did know the language better, Jericho repairs to the kitchen. He knows Illyana's penchant for not eating much so something fresh would probably not go amiss for when she's done. Hmmmmm… something like…

Ah. Waldorf Chicken Salad. That'll do nicely. Onions, apples, walnuts chicken, cellery and mayonase. He's still largely learning her food tastes. Things like no pineapple on the pizza so he can only hope it'll be palatable.

K'nert knows better than to bother Illyana when she's working. Bothering Jericho is totally kosher though. Fortunately Jericho thought of this too. There's a bag of jerky in the pantry. Wonder how that got there? Judging by the sound the demonling will be at it for at least a little while.

*

Illyana takes her time, and Jericho has more than enough to finish putzing in the kitchen. He can probably feel when she's done too, the *snap* as the Wards go active.

Illyana's standing in the middle of the apartment when it does. She'd moved an area rug and some furniture out of the way to draw a rather intricate pentagram on the hardwood floor before taking her place at the center. As those incomprehensible words drip from her tongue her body seems to loose it's cohesion, going from flesh to energy. The volume and cadence rises, and then like the crack of lightning there's the sense of pressure, the feel of the boom, but no actual sound and she's suddenly flesh again. And hitting the floor hard on her knees and one open hand. Her breath comes in short pants as she takes a moment to recover.

*

There's a hand on her shoulder and a glass of clear liquid nearby before she gets up. Jericho doesn't ask if she's okay. He knows that this kind of thing takes a toll out of her even when it's relatively minor. The best he can do is help her try to recover.

"Felt that." He murmurs, shifting the hand off her shoulder to offer Illyana a hand up if she wants it. The wards buzz against his senses, sort of an electric tingle and hum. He'll get used to it. It's rather the same feeling as being in Limbo though this feels more personally like Illyana than does Limbo itself.

*

Illyana startles briefly, not used to anyone being there in the wake of spellcasting, but she relaxes a moment later. She takes the hand up before she takes the glass, stumbling a bit and her lashes flutter some. There are a number of reasons that Illyana doesn't use White magic more. The vulnerability that comes with it being one of the big factors.

Illyana leans a shoulder against him as she takes a drink and then lets out a sigh. He can feel her exhaustion in how much of her weight leans against him. She chuckles as he says he felt that. "Gotta be the only techy that's so sensitive to Magic." She notes wryly. "We should be safe from any kind of mystical poking here. If they put enough oomph to get through the Wards, I'll know." She doesn't need to put any contingency spells into that. It's forged of her own life-force. If someone punches through it, she'll know.

*

"Probably," Jericho chuckles, supporting Illyana with an arm around her shoulder as she leans. After a few minutes, when she seems a bit steadier on her feet, he nods toward the two plates of chicken salad. "Didn't know if you'd really had the chance to eat anything recently." Both because she has a tendency to eat little and because 'recently' for her migth be very different than for him if she's been in and out of Limbo. Which he knows she has been at least in the last day. Her phone dropped off the grid.

"We'll re do some furniture rearranging after we get you properly settled in." Avoiding questions isn't on his mind so much as avoiding awkward for her if either of them choose to have company over. He's seen how people react to her magic.

*

Yeah, they try to strangle him when they sense it on him!

"Mmm. Food would be good." Illyana agrees with a nod proving that yes. She's likely forgotten to eat any time soon. She sits down heavily, fighting a yawn. It's likely she'll be sleeping earlier than she had planed to. As in, today. Sometime. Maybe.

Jericho might actually have a better idea of how long she's gone than she does most times, since her phone still tries to keep time when she's in Limbo, and then resets itself when it finds a tower. But then even then that's not absolute. Jericho has noticed that what feels to him like hours sometimes his chronometer is insisting is only minutes. And if that's true, he's the fastest damned worker in the West!

*

Jericho does wonder, with the time flowing differently between the two what governs her aging. But then he's not entirely sure that Illyana knows that and in any case it's not polite to ask. Not right now anyway. He walks the exhausted Illyana over to the table, pulls out a chair for her and makes she gets seated in it before going to retrieve the two plates of salad… and more vodka. Refilling their tumblers he holds his glass up in a silent toast to her.

*

The offered toast gets an arched brow. "What are we drinking to?" She asks with a tired sort of amusement. K'nert has jumped up on the table, still smelling like jerky, to sniff at Jericho's plate. He doesn't come near Illyana's.

*

"If you touch that before I do…" Jeri murmurs in mild amusement. He knows the little dominance games K'nert plays. "Mmmm. How about to being able to trust one another well enough for this." He offers. There's not many people at all Jericho would trust to live with him and he's guessing while Illyana may have a few more than he, there's not many she would trust either."

*

Illyana's smirk is something very close to a real smile and she tilts a small nod. "I suppose I can drink to that." She agrees. K'nert is given a glance, as well as Jericho's dealing with him. That gets a small, though real grin. Most people would shoo the demon off because they don't like demons being around. Or else they'd let him eat out of some sense of politeness or to try to coax the demon into better relations. Proof they don't understand demons.

*

Jericho lifts his glass again and touches it to Illyana's before taking a drink. He's got a lot of incentive to understand demons. K'nert is one, since the thing's almost always around somewhere. Illyana's a better reason, both to avoid putting her in a difficult position in front of her minions and to understand the part of her that behaves in that way.

Very deliberately he picks up his fork and takes several bites of the salad. He takes a deep breath and lets it go, glancing around the apartment. With things moved away from the walls it really does look like the both of them are just moving in.

*

Illyana takes a swallow as well before she starts to eat. Once she starts, she realizes that yeah, she is hungry and quiet stretches out in a comfortable sort of way as they eat.

Jericho's gaze draws hers around the apartment. "Funny, how small changes make things look really different, hmm?"

*

He nods with a chuckle. Profound statement that, since it's true in more ways than the obvious. "Yeah, it is."

Watching Illyana relax as she eats makes him grin. There's making oneself at ease in someone else’s places, and there's relaxing in your own. He likes to think he sees the latter in the way Illyana is sitting.

After a little while Jericho pushes his plate back and eyes K'nert. "Okay. Now go ahead." This earns Jeri a glare but K'nert goes to retrieve any leftover food all the same.

*

Illyana's chewing slows as she watches, and finally she looks from K'nert to Jericho. "Huh." Honestly, she's not used to most people dealing with her demons. Her demon minions that is. Not that most people deal with her demons either. Admittedly, as she told Doug and Sunspot, K'nert is the only one she's 'given' to anyone but still. Jericho doesn't deal with K'nert like most people deal with demons. They tend to go one of two ways. 'zomgit'sademonevilkillit' and treating it like a pet. Illyana's serious blue gaze turns back over to Jericho

*

Jericho shakes his head at K'nert and then looks back over as Illyana 'huhs.' "Something wrong, Illyana?" He's kind of leaned back in the chair at this point, smiling that small smile that's as close as he ever gets to a real one as he nurses his vodka. He's picked up on her serious look but doesn't know quite what she's thinking yet.

*

Illyana gestures over towards K'nert with her fork. "You know how to deal with him." She comments, and he can hear the mild surprise from her. "I figured you can handle yourself what with the glowy lightshow and the fighting… But it's not even that, is it?"

*

Ah. Jericho hitches a shoulder, still smiling a little. "I was paying attention when you explained it. Once I realized demons see everything in terms of dominance it wasn't too hard to put most of it together on my own." To wit, he'd listened when she'd told him about herself and been able to apply it to the place she came from. He's decent at listening.

"There are some things that I understand quite well." He smiles. Thankfully he hasn't needed the glow lightshow as much. That may be partly because he knows ho to not appear as some manner of prey or victim waiting to happen.

*

"So maybe you'd have been fine if I didn't claim you as mine?" Illyana asks around her glass, tone teasing though something almost predatory lurking in her blue gaze.

His explanation gets a slight nod, and he can tell she's still rather surprised. "Most people don't really listen when I try to explain them." Which, by extension is explaining her.

*

Being able to understand Illyana, at first to help her and then simply to for understanding's sake was the reason he paid attention. "Perhaps I would have been, though I get the feeling that the mark has spared me no few fights." So he's still grateful.

"Maybe most people just don't have the right motivation to learn?" He suggests with a chuckle.

*

Illyana gives a slight shrug, her gaze dropping to her plate as she pushes around the remnants of lunch with her fork. "Maybe. Or they're too blind." Too many preconceived notions getting in the way. Too many prejudices. Her gaze flicks up at him briefly though, at the way he reacts, or perhaps more specifically doesn't, to her casually made statement. Setting her fork aside she leans back in her chair and drags her drink closer.

*

"Could be. True of people in a lot of cases. And the word demon tends to elicit fairly strong emotional reactions." Jericho doesn't seem bothered by her though. Her or K'nert. He cants his head slightly as her gaze comes up. She can see he thinks it's a pity that means other people deny themselves the chance to meet one he's come to regard as simply one of the best people. There's a clink as Jericho pours a bit more vodka into his glass.

*

"For good reason." Illyana concedes. She can't really blame people. Sometimes it's just frustrating though. She stifles another yawn and drags a hand down her face. "I should probably try to get some sleep." 'Try' because her sleep isn't terribly restful with all the nightmares. But she invested a lot of herself in the casting and she knows it.

*

Jericho nods again and glances over to the soundproofed room. "Of course. Take your pick of places. If you'd feel more comfortable in the room I usually use, feel free. We don't have your room quite set up and all." It's just an offer, but then again this is the man who prior to this had told Illyana to treat his places as if they were he own.

"I'll be up for a while yet, so just let me know if you need anything."

*

No, 'her' room isn't set up at all yet. She didn't bring any clothes or any pictures. No keepsakes or knick-knacks. No posters or books or the other detrius of a life as most people know it. There's nothing that says she lives here now.

Except the blood on the walls that pulse with the power they draw from her soul. What fraction she has left. It says more than the furniture she might move in, or the clothes that might fill the closet, or pictures she might hang on the wall that she has a connection to this place. That it too, at least for a time, counts as home.

The offer is mulled over quietly, and then she stands, draining the rest of her vodka. The glass is set down next to her plate left for later or, more likely, for Jericho to clean up after her. K'nert is given a small flick of her finger against his shoulder. "Be good." She tells him and then heads off to Jericho's room, closing the door behind her. Well. He did offer.


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