A Courteous Guest

September 15, 2014: Jim's about to get a bender on. An otherworldly leader shows up. Drinks are had by all.

Apartment 320B

This studio apartment has seen better days, and the walls have the amazing property of muffling only the important noises but not the noisy neighbors at all hours of the night. It has a kitchenette with a counter, a futon that's been spread out, and a small bookshelf with some books. Along the door and the window there are horse shoes with the 'open' end 'up' and various other folklore markings. A laptop on a small kitchen table is the Internet Window To The World.



Mood Music:

It has been a few weeks since the fateful 'downtime' encounter between James Reha and the Demon Sorceress of Limbo. In the first week or two, Jim had been waiting 'for the other shoe to drop'. It looked like it was a possibility, even, when someone close to the Darkchilde appeared mysteriously in his apartment in the wee hours in the morning when he'd been unable to sleep. Jericho's home invasion turned out to be a false alarm.

In a subsequent encounter, Jim had passed along a concern to the light-wielding mercenary hacker that he was getting incredibly tired of waiting for the other shoe to drop, and with other irons in the fire… this issue got pushed to a back-burner.

Today, after a long weekend at work putting a new bit of electronics through its paces at Stark Industries and a day in the yards over at Drakos Recovery Solutions, LLC, he was going to attempt to get ripped, alone, for the first time in freaking ever. And screw what the Buddha Bird said. It's his body too, dangit, and this abstinence from all things he enjoyed was really grating on his nerves.

So it is that he is standing in his cruddy little studio, perusing the 'peace offering' that he'd gathered together for the eventual visit of Illyana. Good vodka, none of the cheap stuff, and in decent quantities…


One has to wonder who let Jim in on Illyana's fondness for the stuff. They must want him to make a good impression. It starts as a spark of light in the middle of the open space that is his living room, and then quickly spreads out into a flat disk near the ceiling that falls downwards. Above, it leaves ths blonde wearing her X-Men: Red team uniform with one hand on hip. "The alcohol's out. Look like I picked a perfect time." She says in a dryly amused tone as she steps over towards the table he's at. "You smell a lot better." She notes, pulling out a chair as though he invited her.


To his credit, the man doesn't panic. He doesn't even turn around and glare accusingly. If anything, his shoulders slump a little bit and that turns into a shrug.

He spins around with shot glasses and a couple of others, placing them on the table before heading to the fridge.

"I feel a whole lot better, now that we're getting this out of the way. Good thing you came now, and not four hours from now."

Truth be told, she had kind of invited herself, so the rather casual approach she's taking isn't as off-putting as say, someone showing up with a chain-gun whirling or with a bow drawn threatening to put an arrow through one's eye.

He returns to the table and sets a bottle of cranberry juice, a bottle of orange juice, and some iced tea on the table, folding his craptop and putting it away to prevent damage to it.

"Welcome to my home, and thank you for not threatening my life or limbs to start the conversation."

The way he makes it sound, this is almost a weekly thing.


Illyana's brows arch as he thanks her, reaching out for the bottle to pour herself a drink. No mixers for her. "Why would I threaten you?" She asks casually. "I don't recall you pissing me off." Maybe pissing in fear at the demon trying to eat him but really, she'd never have been able to tell with the demon's stench. "I save threatening for if I need something or I'm annoyed. Let's steer clear of the latter, hmm? I've had a rough week."


"Sounds great to me. Been chasing after idiots all week when I haven't been at work and that stuff is getting kind of old. And I can only imagine, if Sir Stankalot is any indication of the sort of things you have to deal with on a daily or weekly basis."

He pours himself a shot, then offers it up a toast, but looks a bit rusty about it.

"Okay, nod to the partner time to shut it up. To Enlightenment, may it bring us further."


The mention of a partner gets a slight cock of her head, but she answers his toast with a chuckle and "Vashe zrodovye." Where her English is very Anywhere America, her Russian is very much of the native-speaker variety. Siberian, if he has an ear for it. She knocks back the vodka without a grimace and slides the glass forward for him to refill.

So you're an odd bird. If I look at you sideways, you're like a magic sink in the 'nothing here' kinda variety. But only if I look at you funny. So. Tell me why one of my critters was so very interested in you, hmm?"


Jim starts to fumble with the Russian and then as if something had taken control of his vocal cords he responds in a perfectly inflected response "Vashe zrodovye." He blinks for a few moments and coughs a bit. The coughing wasn't from the vodka… it was from that linguistic response. He pours another shot for his guest and then himself.

"Perhaps it was seeking Enlightenment? The partner is really big on personal development, to say the least. And it's a bit of an old fart on the whole 'abstinence brings wisdom' thing. So I must thank you again for showing up. It can accept a discussion in a proper cultural framework that involves the blessing of the grain. And yeah, its trying to be all fancy-dancy with the words. Wait one."

Jim gets this distracted far-off kind of look for a second, almost like he's thinking about something.

"Apparently, the reason you found me at the mercy of one of your…tools… pets… whatever you want to call Stank… was because it was attempting to adjust itself to deal with an attempted subversion of its self by an 'elder demon' named K'rrrrshnll. Perhaps Stank and K'rrrrsh compared notes? I'm not an occult expert, but if there was some sort of sympathetic tie somehow…"

Not quite answering the question, but informative nonetheless.


Illyana squints over at Jim. "I… feel like I haven't drunk near enough for this conversation." She says dryly. "First, what's this about a partner? And I gathered that it wanted something from you. The question is what. The how it found out isn't terribly relevant to me yet. Secrets have a way of escaping. Usually into the very worst hands."


Jim tosses back another shot and pours again. Despite not having had much to drink in a while, he's handled it like a boss so far.

"I've kinda got a head-room-mate, but you could sort of see it's not just a head-room sort of thing, so no use in trying to B.S. about it. It's a very ancient intelligence from far, far away. It has seen a lot, picked up a lot, and is big on ever learning more. And it probably wanted to possess whatever it was that the partner picked up. If you really want to see it, you should probably have a couple more shots. Not to be offensive or anything, but I wish *I* could take a few more shots every time it starts on its rants."


Illyana tosses back another shot, looking thoughtful. "Alright, I can buy that. It wanted knowledge. It seemed to think that it was good enough to be a bargaining chip, as well as worth the gamble of pissing me off." She glances at the table and then smirks over to Jim with a soft 'tsk'. "You forgot the pickles."

"But I'm going to wager that you're not interested in colluding with my enemies, right?" Her tone says 'the right answer here would be 'no ma'am'.'


"Sorry 'bout that, I'm not normally huge into vodka, and I was trying to spend more for quality rather than buying in cheap bulk. There is a difference in taste and all, least if you ask me? So pickles didn't make the cut."

He nods with the assessment, then smirks a bit.

"No, ma'am. If the enemies you are referring to are like Stanky, you can bet your ass I'm not doing anything with them and if they pop up again they're gonna get slaughtered like no tomorrow. Partner is kind of frothy about that despite being all Zen about most other things."


Illyana gives a dismissive wave of her hand. "I'm not big on them anyway. They're just traditional." She doesn't knock back a third shot, but instead sips on it this time. "Well, yes. Most folk tend to be grumpy about someone trying to eat them." Dry wit seems to be her go-to method of conversation.

"I was a bit surprised to hear you were antsy about when I'd be coming by. I figured you'd prefer if I just forgot the whole mess entirely." She notes casually, watching him with those eerily cold and empty blue eyes. Where usually there is the light of the soul to be glimpsed within those windows, hers seem to open onto nothingness.


"I'm not an idiot. I mean, it may have seemed like it in the alley, and there may be times where I'm not quite what folks might expect approaching a thing, but I know when you get someone that can do the teleporting thing and they promise that they're going to be dropping by, it's always better to get that out of the way sooner rather than later? I mean, heck, if you'd come in say, sometime last week… it could have been very messy entirely. Had another guest that was really rude and didn't understand the first thing about hospitality or what acceptable boundaries are. Big on bows, and that's a pet project for the partner to work on."

Jim, oddly enough… has seen this look before in the lost drunks, the hopelessly stoned, the vacuous stares of the mind-numbed modern customer. It actually puts him a bit more at ease, rather than on edge. After all, the biggest part of customer service is the ability to look *anyone* in the eye and tell them what they're looking for. "And even if you didn't have the teleportation thing, you did save my ass. And when that kind of thing goes down, well…"


Illyana's chuckle is low, dark amusement as he says he's not an idiot. She doesn't argue, but that he made the statement seems to amuse her. "Well. True. I suppose you had reason to worry and are clearly a 'rip the band-aid' off sort. I? Have no interest in eating your brain for whatever knowledge seems to be in there. I'm not that power hungry. I've made an example of the offender and so you shouldn't be bothered by any of my critters in the foreseeable future. Also, my dance card is a bit full, so I'm not likely to drop in on you just to make you jump for my own amusement."


"If you don't keep the bandages fresh, all kinds of rot can get in. And if you don't clean them when you have the bandages off, same deal. Had an uncle who lost digits because he wasn't up on that kind of thing."

He shudders a bit.

"Good. Because I think if you did try eating the brain you'd have a whole pallet of other issues to deal with. Not a threat, like I said earlier, the partner is kinda frothy about that right now and it's kind of scary when it turns off the 'nice bird teacher' aspect. Imagine something completely alien, no sense of morals, no sense of ethics. Now piss it off with something stupid. Yeah. I'd rather not revisit that, thanks."

It doesn't sound like he's being threatening, but more providing a cautionary tale.

"I'll take that for what it's worth, and did you want to take a couple of bottles with you? I mean, I bought them for you in case you had one of those insanely iron livers that allowed you to drink bottles at a time? The local alpha wolf said it'd be a good idea… and he also said you were good people and to treat you with respect. No, not a werewolf here, but when you're dealing with someone who can eat the Sun…"


Illyana just smiles blandly as he mentions something alien, with no sense of morals and ethics. Clearly, he forgot that she deals with demons on a regular basis. "Let me provide you with a word of advice, hmm? Don't make something seem like a challenge to a demon. We often feel the need to prove we can overcome it." Warning or cautionary tale, the implication is that she couldn't handle it. And that isn't something that a demon lets slide easily. It pricks their Pride too much.

When he mentions a certain wolf her brows rise. And then she chuckles. "I see. You've met the puppy." Her tone is almost mocking. Because she's sure her friend would feel the need to swat at her for calling him such. "I can usually drink folks under the table, but I do try not to indulge quite that hard most days." She rises up to her feet then. "And I'd hate to deny you the fuel for a really good bender, as it looks like you're gearing up for one."


"Thanks for the head's up. Appreciate it. Seriously."

He looks like he's straining a bit, as if biting back on something else he really wants to say for a few moments.

Well, at least he's learned the ever-important trick of Knowing When To Shut the Hell Up.

"Yeah, ah… let's just say it was a bit of a rocky start— " Shorthand: He was effin' terrified " —but we got things worked out and we're pretty good. And yeah, I was. Getting tired of the Buddha Bird ranting at me all the time, figured maybe I could try and return the 'favor' it does to me all the time. It goes and drinks a pot of coffee or tea or something so it's up when I'm trying to sleep and then it starts asking all kinds of 'enlightening' sorts of questions. Dunno if you pray, but hope you never have to deal with something that obnoxious."

Guy seems genuine enough about that.

"Tell you what, you know the place, if you need a hand with something local sometime, let me know?"


Illyana seems terribly, terribly amused at the suggestion that she might pray. "I'm damned. What good would praying do?" There's no sadness or bitterness, instead she just smirks and it seems like she's trying not to laugh.

His mention of 'something local' gets a tilt of her head. "What, in New York?" Her brow furrows a bit, clearly somewhat confused. "And I'm not usually inclined to try to philosophize someone into submission."


"Y'know, I heard that from something inside Arkham Asylum. Something that wanted to purge the imperfect or some sort of crap like that. Said one of the folks on our little field trip was unrecoverable. Never know. Lots of deities out there, lots of 'em. Some of them might even get a… oh.. hey… that's… whoa."

His eyes widen as he glances at his guest for a moment or two before they return back to normal. "Just had a weird thought, no way it'd work, don't mind me… might be the booze starting to kick in."

"Nah, like this world versus another one, and the partner managed to talk the God of Mischief into doing some tasks and convince something at the Asylum to leave the world for a while. So I'd at least be willing to give it a shot… and if it's a big enough threat, well… we had that talk already too. Any rate, I need to get my booze on, you were headin' on out to a lot of thankless tasks, thanks for dropping by, have a great safe evening."


"Persuasive then. I'll remember that. By the way. If you need me…" Illyana flips a card up between two fingers and then flips it toward him to let it flutter down onto the table. It's a business card. With her name on it. And X-Men: Red. Phone numbers. An address even! Of course, they're to the offices at Da Costa International. Not her house or anything. "I'm not that hard to find." She gives him a wink and then another disk appears at her feet to slide her away.


"Thanks for the card. I'll keep you and your organization in mind."

And once the otherworldly leader is gone… let the boozing… BEGIN.


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