In the Green

Summary:
September 18 2014: Illyana and Jericho discuss magic, risk and matters of the soul

Limbo

Limbo, at the line between paradise and wasteland


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:
[* None]


Things that are good for the soul. Well, among them most people wouldn't include a trip to a minor hell realm full of demons, but by evening Jericho was feeling well enough to risk a demon encounter to get some more gardening done. The question of 'what to do next' was a fairly big one and to be honest, he had no answers. He'd pushed off his own problems and spent a considerable amount of time, effort and energy dealing with Nancy's issues and the Virus. Now that both of those had been pretty resoundingly put to bed… he found himself rather back at square one.

Well, okay, not quite square one. He wasn't running quite so hard anymore, and he had friends he could count on. Partisan, of course, and Nancy too. Then there was Illyana and as complex as that siutation could be, the thought of her made him smile a little as he cut a new trench into the landscape.

-

He doesn't necessarily hear her arrival, but somehow it's easy to know when she's around in Limbo. The land responds to her, by the greenery seeming to perk up or the wasteland gaining teeth. She's got sneakers on, and shorts, and an old beat-up T-shirt. She's also got a ballcap on, her hair worked into a long braid that's pulled out the back of it. Not that she needs that bill to shade her eyes from the sun. There's no sun in Limbo. Just that blood-red sky. She has gloves tucked into a back pocket, a shovel over a shoulder, and a small cooler in the other hand.

"When you weren't at home resting, I had a feeling you'd be here." She says, coming over to join him. "You're stubborn as a goat, you know that?"

-

"Plenty of time to rest. I wanted to make sure this wasn't being neglected." Jericho offers Illyana a smile as she arrives, the 'nice to see you' smile she generally gets when she shows up. It's not hard to read that he wanted to make sure, because it's, in a way, her, and he wasn't going to neglect what might at some level be her soul. After having having been somewhat busy on the other end, it semeed like something to check on, especially since the other end had been fairly rough and if he had to guess, perhaps a bit stressful for Illyana.

-

Illyana tilts her head a bit, giving him a Look. "You're worried about me." It's not really a guess and the cant of her head asks why. She's in one piece, she's calm… But he sees her too damned well at times. While she doesn't tend to lie to him, that doesn't mean she doesn't keep things quiet. Especially about herself.

-

"Just a bit." Classic Jericho understatement. He doesn't bother trying to hide things from Illyana because she knows him too well herself. He looks back at her from the trench he's cutting. "It's been rough on you, these last few weeks." He's seen. Between problems on this side and problems on the other, how could it not? It helps that she confides in him, and that he sees her more often than most. At least he thinks he does. He's not actually completely sure of that.

-

The cooler is set down, along with the shovel, and she sits down on the edge of the trench so she can let her feet dangle down into the area he's made. "Being under fire? The killing?" She lifts her shoulders upwards, palms resting on the green grass beside her. "I've done it before." But she dosn't say that he's wrong, and she keeps watching him. What he thinks, how he thinks, is really more important to her than what he knows.

-

"Different things stress different people." Jericho says, planting his shovel and leaning on it as he turns to face her. "A lot of things that were important to you got risked, pretty recently." The Xavier's Institute came under attack. New York, her home city, was the site of an attempted WMD strike. Her friends went into battle. None of it may have been unbearable on its own but the aggregate weight of it has to have told on her some.

Oh, and there was the part where a mage ripped magic out of him because he knew it would disturb and anger her.

-

Illyana's gaze rests on his, and she gives a slight tilt of her head as she nods. "Some things that were very important to me did get risked." She agrees. "But they're fine now." The statement is almost challenging. Because if he's out here, he'd best be at least 'fine'.

"I'm used to that, to some degree. My brother didn't exactly keep himself safe, and the X-Men have a history of getting into trouble. Even the kids." Illyana frowns some then. "But I've never had something that's mine in danger before. Not like that." Limbo is hers, but it's a big different. There's the possessiveness, but not the strong emotional tie. Havint that tie at all is a new weight for her to bear.

-

Jericho nods slowly and walks over to where she is, leaving the shovel speared into the earth. He sits down next to her on the cooler and looks over at her. "I knew it would be dangerous. I didn't know quite how much." He says softly. "I hadn't… figured on there being anyone who could do that in particular. Are you alright?" As in, is how does she feel about it? As in, is she going to be alright with it in the future or is it something the two of them need to work out? His eyes show the same gentle regard she often sees in his quieter moments.

-

"We never really know how dangerous something will be. That's the danger." Illyana jokes, reaching out to rest one of her hands over his as he sits down. "I hadn't really thought about it myself. I don't normally gain magic that way." In a sense, it was sacrificial. Taking everything from him in a painful rush. "Now I have to think, 'how can I protect him'. Because from this, I don't think you can do it on your own." She rather makes it a point, not to 'protect' him. He's more than capable of taking care of himself. Usually. "I think that's what nags at me the most. How to stop that from happening again." Because there are those that don't care that he's marked as hers.

-

Jericho turns his hand palm up as Illyana's come down, rubbing the back of hers wit his thumb. He nods, not at all offended that she doesn't think this is something he can handle on his own. Because honestly, he can't. Tactics, fist fights, guns, explosives, physical war in all it's brutality, that he can do. Information and networks, hacking and data theft, that he can do. Magic? Magic is beyond him. He's got no aptitude for it and only a basic understanding. "What are you thinking, then?" It's possible that there won't be a good answer and those are the hardest problems to consider, because you have to content yourself with doing the best you can knowing that things will happen.

-

"I'm not sure." Illyana admits, her fingers threading with his. "I worry what effect putting a lock on you could have. Especially if anything happened to me. What if it needed to come off?" She tilts her head to one side then the other in an indecisive manner. "That's if I even can. The tech in you kinda throws everything off kilter. But right now it seems like it's a gaping vulnerability. Anything with magical senses can pick up on you and if it's that easy to also figure out you're a walking battery…"

-

"Is it? Easy to figure out?" Jericho really has no idea. "Or did he just put two and two together and guess." He knows that magical things can find him at some basic level and see the markings on him. It's not too far a stretch to guess that the markings are unique to Illyana. Certainly her demons don't have any problem figuring out what they mean. "What do you mean by a lock?" He doesn't sound worried. Just curious.

-

"Fairly, if someone's taking a decent look at you magically speaking." Illyana admits. The question about a lock gets one of her thoughtful frowns. "OK, think of it more like a pool than a battery. Anyone with the right skill set can just dip out what they want. Now imagine someone puts a cover on it. No one can dip anything out anymore without the cover being taken off first. But I don't really know how your whole magic storage thing really works, so I don't know if it'd have side effects."

-

"Mmmmmmm, right." Jericho has come to accept that he's an odd fish magically speaking. "Taking it out had side effects, at any rate. I think. Left me feeling all… odd." He frowns. Almost drunk. Well, not quite drunk, but not able to muster up the care to moderate anything. And… feeling rather… intense on some matters. He's wonering if perhaps the magic left something behind when it was ripped from him.

"Any way to find out?"

-

"Well we could do the old standby of 'try it and see what happens', but that's got its risks." Illyana points out. If something comes up, it could all go sideways real fast. Something seems to occur to her, flickering across her face and her lips part for just a moment before she closes them with a deeper frown.

-

An amused chuckle sounds at Illyana's side as Jericho cants his head slightly. "You just thought of something." It's not a question. He knows her well enough to know the signs, though that particular one was not exactly subtle as such things go. He glances up and around just to see if anyone but K'nert is about. Mmmm… nope, even K'nert seems to have slid away. Likely he doesn't feel the need to keep an eye on Jericho when Illyana is around… which is probably accurate.

-

Even demons want some alone time! Most of Limbo's denizens leave Jericho alone as well, so he doesn't even really need K'nert to warn them off.

Illyana gives him a glance, but she doesn't deny it. "Yes." She admits with some reluctance. That she didn't say anything already says she likely doesn't think it's a terribly good idea. "Are you…" And then she snorts in brief amusement. "Familiar with the term 'familiar' as relates to magical workings?"

-

"Only in very basic terms. They're usually portrayed as small demons or animals. They assist magicians with their workings in various usually unspecified ways." Research on the magical hasn't been super fruitful for Jericho. In fact mostly he's just concentrated on figuring out what exactly works and doesn't work for tending Limbo, and of course, learning Demonic. At some point he'll have to make a more focused effort to understand how this all works.

-

"They come up mostly in conjunction with witches who have a fairly finite amount of power. Much like I do on Earth. Familiars allow them to store up extra, essentially. That lets them do bigger workings or sustain them longer." Sorcerers on Illyana's level, when she's in Limbo at least, don't tend to need the power boost.

Finding anything useful on magic is damned hard. Especially if one just sticks to the internet since most of the magically inclined have a hate-hate relationship with technology. On top of that, they guard their knowledge jealously.

-

Jericho nods again. That's fundamentally what he agreed to be when they discussed the possibility of him being a magical battery. He probably wouldn't have used that exact terminology - primarily because he wouldn't have known to do so - but if the shoe fits? He's been called a 'pet human' before. 'Familiar' can't possibly be any worse right? "I take it the specific magic involved restricts who can access that power?" It doesn't seem like a thing minor witches would much appreciate, having their magical batteries hijacked.

-

Illyana gives a slight nod. "Right. That's the point. I mean, it's possible. But it generally takes time, concentration, and a whole lot of power. Usually someone kills a Familiar over trying to steal the power it holds." She's still frowning though.

-

"By your look, there's a downside… or at least, something you don't particularly like considering." A lot of people might be sensitive to having the kind of odd relationship to Illyana that he does. In many ways he's at an advantage on her, and in many others, at a severe disadvanatage. To Jericho, though, most of those objections are covered by one simple fact: He trusts her. It's why he let her do as she wished for so long before he started to take a little rather than simply give give give.

"Are you concerned that kind of thing might make me a greater target? Or is there something else bothering you about that thought?"

-

"I think anyone that's inclined to see you as a target already does." Illyana says before taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. "It's not that. The reason that a Familliar is keyed to their master that way is because they're bonded. It's a kind of soul-link." And Illyana's soul is black as soot. Not something she likes to subject anyone to. "One of the reasons it's normally an animal. Not a person. Their souls are… simpler. They don't object to being bound like that."

-

Jericho is silent at that, mulling things over. This is not the sort of consideration one handwaves, after all. "More than a simple marking then." He looks over Illyaa now in a pensive, speculative kind of way. "Illyana," He begins finally. "I know you've heard me say 'I trust you' before… but I wonder if you've really considered what I mean by that." A small smile forms on his face as he squeezes her hand a bit.

"I've never balked at seeing your other nature. Nor at having it near me. I would have fragmented my soul and offered it to you to help make the effects of your own loss less if I could have. I trust you, Illyana. Completely. If you think this is a bad idea, you would know better than I. If you think it's a good way to protect me, the condition of your soul doesn't bother me." He looks at her seriously, amber eyes seeking her blue ones now. "I trust who you are. All of it. With everything I am."

-

Illyana tilts her head in a nod. "Marking you is like… putting a collar on your pet. It has 'if lost, return to' on it." She says, the slight smirk trying to take the potential sting out of alluding to him as her collared pet. It's only the magically inclined though, that see the 'collar'.

The attempt at levity doesn't linger though, as he continues and she flinches just a bit at that blatant statement of trust. Because really, does she deserve it? Worse, what if she violated it? He may trust her, but she doesn't trust herself. Not by a longshot.

"I think we've already established that you're crazy." She chides, trying for humor again. To push away the weight of his words. So she doesn't have to confront them and what they mean to her. She does finally meet his eyes though, with their scattered flecks of grey amid a sea of amber. "And while it might protect you in the short term, I'm fairly sure it'll damn your soul Jericho. And I'm not willing to do that to you."

-

Jericho lets out a small, amused snort. "I'm told I'm damned already, though mind you I'm not sure I trust the source. Sort of an ineffable force of darkness making people puppets in Arkham Asylum." Nooooot exactly the kind of person he's apt to be taking cues from any time soon, to be sure. "For a monster, it sure seemed keen on getting rid of me. Not suitable for enlightenment, it said." That had been one seriously odd night.

It doesn't take much to sense that the topic, and perhaps his seemingly unshakable trust in her, make her uncomfortable, so he doesn't push the matter. He's said it often enough and he's fairly sure that if Illyana hasn't really considered what he means by it, it's for reasons almost exactly like this. She's convinced she doesn't deserve his trust. He's fairly sure she's convinced on some level that she doesn't deserve his affection and perhaps, not just his, but anyone's.

Sometimes it's not about deserving these things though. And anyway if it comes down to who has kept faith, Illyana has kept his better than most he's known.

-

"Yeah, creatures of darkness never lie." Illyana says with sarcasm. Her gaze drops, resting on their hands with entwined fingers. "It's at least somewhere to start. I'll see if I can replciate the keying-in without the soul-bond." She doesn't sound particularly confident, but then it's a bit out of her wheelhouse. Demonic magic would likely be much less… symbiotic than a Familiar-bond. While she didn't say anything about it, the stories of Famiilars usually mention the creatures were unusual creatures. More intelligent, longer lived, things like that.

-

More intelligent might disqualify Jericho right there, would probable be the joke he'd make. As it is, he follows her gaze down and gives her a little squeeze. "Let me know if there's any way I can help beyond what I'm doing, okay?" He murmurs softly. There's a long pause as he thinks about the whole situation, how he might feel about it if their places were reversed. It'd probably fairly terrify him, but then Illyana is more used to dealing with this kind of thing than he is. There is one thing though he realizes they may well share in common in the way they'd worry, in the things that might occur to them both as their thoughts turned the situation over and over.

"And hey…" He waits until she looks back up. "I'm not going anywhere, okay?"

-

He gets one of her soft smiles, lashes dropping down to hide her gaze briefly as he makes that promise. She leans into him and turns her head so that her cheek presses against the broad expanse of his chest. She let her eyes close and enjoys that moment. Of him and her, and a future assured. Even if it's only for that moment.

-

Jericho's arms snake around her. Much like she doesn't try to protect him, he often doesn't try to protect her. It's a means of respecting her own capability, and in her case, letting her demons know that she's still in charge. And because in many cases he can't protect her, least of all in this. The future is uncertain and he has no way of knowing if tomorrow either of them will even be alive. There's too much neither of them can control. But as she leans into him and he gives her a tender squeeze, he knows of one thing he can control: That he will move mountains to remain with her. Even if it means sharing in her damnation.


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