No Win Scenario

Summary:
October 11 2014: Over breakfast, Jericho and Illyana discuss Belasco and options for dealing with him.

Unit 24F

A large, comfortable three bedroom apartment in Hells Kitchen with a view of the Hudson.


Characters

NPCs

  • K'nert

Mood Music:
[* None]


Jericho ran.

Not from anything. Not this time at least. It was early in the morning (for most people) and he'd selected the boardwalk as the perfect place to do his usual run this time. This hour of the day it was just one expanse of empty pathway, crashing surf and wind. Peaceful. Quiet. Perfect.

Lacking his 'Rest' he's found he gets nightmares far more quickly and easly and it's only Illyana's linking their rests together that's prevented him from being more mentally and emotionally exhausted than he is. The physical tiredness he can deal with. It's the inner numbness that comes with true exhuastion - exhaustion of the mind and heart rather than the body - that he finds difficulty with. Perhaps it comes of having been that way so long and only recently rediscovering what it's like to live otherwise again.

Running though, with no hacking going, no reading, no anything, he can just let his thoughts wander. They run though widdershins paths, as he thinks about his friends - Partisan and Nancy and May - considers the last few months of his life… and of course thinks about Illyana. His thoughts turn there often, considering how grateful he is for her presence and reliving the odd collection of events that lead them to where they are now. No one said life was predictable but he's had cause recently to be grateful for that. A lot.

After probably an hour of running at a good clip he makes a familiar turn. He doesn't often actually run to his home. Doesn't want anyone to follow him. Today he's too deep in thought and just makes the turn sort of automatically. There's no harm every now and then, he supposes, finally slowing to a walk half a block from the apartment. He's turns and makes his way up the path and into the lobby, a bit sweaty though not as much as he could be what with the breeze and the cool morning air. Breakfast sounds good about now. Maybe eggs and toast and orange juice. Illyana will appreciate that too, if she's about and if she's awake.

-

Illyana is indeed up. Which is normally not unusual. But lately? Lately isn't more of an issue. She's sitting on the floor at the coffee table with her textbooks arrayed around her as she cross references some things, looking up as the door opens. She arches a brow, smirking at him. "Well. Look whose all sweaty." She's still dressed in her PJs, hair pulled back into a ponytail.

-

His eyes gleam a bit as he chuckles and looks her over. "Hey. Yeah, went for my run." He'd been up early and figured what the hell. "You eaten yet?" He calls over moving to the kitchen and inspecting the contents of the 'fridge. Mmmmmmm. Eggs, check. Bread's stale. That's an issue for one kind of toast, but not another. Cream and honey it is. He'll need a bowl…

-

Illyana pushes up from the floor, coming over after him. She reaches out to tug at the hem of his shirt and arches a brow expectantly. "Should have woke me up. I'd have come with you. And no, I haven't." Coffee was made, though. She does make decent coffee.

-

"I'll remember that next time." And Jericho's serious about that too. He runs often. Part of his regimen which is part survival and part habit. He doesn't often like to wake Illyana sleeping though. Actual restful sleep for her is rare in his experience. He's only seen it a few times and dearly wishes he could figure out a way to just… make it happen for her.

He follows the tug at his shirt back down to her hand and then back up to her eyes. His own flash in amusement as he reaches down to take the shirt off. As noted, he's gotten himself a bit sweaty, but the weather prevented it from being a full on soaking. eggs come out and are cracked into a bowl while cream and honey and nutmeg fill another bowl into which goes several slices of stale bread. "Poached, fried, or scrambled? And do you like pepper and dill?" He says with a grin. Eggs and toast he can do, oh yes.

-

Even with him being slightly sweaty, Illyana comes up behind him as he finishes moving about quite so much. Her arms slip around his hips and her lips graze one shoulderblade. He feels the wet lap of her tongue tasting the salt on his skin. "Mmm, poached. And sure." Which… likely means she hasn't had eggs prepared any particular way before.

-

There's an appreciative 'mmmmm' from the hacker as he carefully sprinkles shredded dill and cracked black pepper on the eggs before setting some water to boil. Cooking is not a good time to turn around and hold Illyana. Not if they both want to eat. Which means - as may have been the plan - that she's got him at a disadvantage. The breaad's soaked up a fair bit of the cream and honey now and goes onto a griddle pan while the eggs go into the water. Fast, delicious breakfast for the win.

-

Illyana's thumbs tease along the waistband of his pants, and then she loosens the tie there so she can ease them down just over his hips and slip her fingertips against the newly exposed skin. He can feel her breath against his back, and then the long, slow lick of her tongue along the line of his spine. Yeah, having him 'captive' amuses her to go end. "How are you feeling?"

-

"A bit tired." Jericho answers honestly. It's a sort of mental and emotional weariness rather than a physical one, but 'tired' is the best word for it. "But not as exhausted as I was." He flips the bread so as not to burn it and looks back over her shoulder at her with a wry grin. Not fair and she knows it. Of course, somehow, that just makes it endearing.

-

Illyana gives Jericho a slow grin, pressing herself against his back, even if he's sweaty. "Well good. Means all this damned sleep I'm getting is good for something." Her hands slide back, scraping her nails against his flanks. "So." She says a bit more seriously. "I haven't found a good way to keep the magic in you 'locked up' from people yanking on it."

-

There were a couple of ways Illyana had raised last time she and Jericho had spoken about the matter but she'd seemed concerened at the time they'd have some fairly unpredictable side effects. Seems that's still a concern she has. "So I need to be careful." He murmurs as he plates eggs and french toast first for Illyana then for himself. Orange juice is in the frige along with vodka and a few other things but he'll let Illyana get that if she wants it. Setting Illyana's plate of food where she can reach it he half twists in her arms. He'd enjoyed the feeling of her crowding close and is almost eager to see if she'll continue or if she'll interfere with his turning around.

-

Well, she makes it more difficult, but doesn't actively try to stop him. She just doesn't move to make it easier for him. When he manages it, she reaches up to twist her fingers into the short length of his hair to drag his head down closer for a thorough kiss that's coffee-flavored. "I don't think 'careful' is going to help you much." She says grimly.

-

Jericho returns that coffee flavored kiss quite readily and eagarly, now finally in a position to loops his arms around Illyana and tug her close. "Nothing to be done for it, unless you want to try one of those methods that you were concerned with." It means he's assuming another set of risks if sheo does not, which he'd understand, and if that's the price of being in her world he'll pay it and gladly.

-

Illyana frowns even as she holds him close but she doesn't say anything. Seems that she hasn't decided which would be the worst. The risks that comes with her magic, or the risk of being exposed. With a sigh, she finally edges away so she can eat before it gets cold, because it's really smells good.

-

Jericho smiles as she picks up her plate. When she finally does move away, even if just a bit, he opens the frige and gets out the orange juice to complete the set for breakfast. "You'll have to tell me what you think…" He says, bending down to murmur by her ear with a grin. "Dill and pepper are stables for me, and I've made my french toast forever like that… but I'm still learning what you like." Granted, Illyany tends to be easy to please when it comes to food, but still. Surely he has preferences. he knows she doesn't like pineapple.

-

Well. Not cooked pineapple. She tilts her head towards him a bit as he leans in to speak so softly about something so… mundane. She chuckles and him, turning to nuzzle at him before taking her plate and OJ and heading over to the table to tuck into breakfast. "I like you." She says simply, as though that's all that matters.

-

Jericho smiles and sits down next to her at the glass table in the dining area. For a little bit he eats in silence, content with his breakfast and Illyana's company. He hasn't forgotten the mention of the dilemma that's come of his becoming a magical battery but he's never been given to fretting. Worrying, yes, particularly about people he cares for but sometimes things are just beyond his ability to control and therefore there's no reason it should ruin their breakfast. It's very likely that if Illyana hadn't gotten some rest he wouldn't be able to do so, but she's slowing his depletion, at least so far. He can feel the slow trickle of magic being drawn into him, bypassing his traces for the most part which feels really strange.

"Thank you." He smiles again, a bit brighter. "I feel rather the same about you."

-

Illyana flashes Jericho a smirk, the words an understatement for both of them. The smirk doesn't last long though. "I've got feelers out on Belasco. I think we're going to have to make it a frontal assault. He's gonna know we're… coming." She frowns as something occurs to her, and she sets her fork down slowly. "You can't come." She says then.

-

Jericho cants his head. He thinks he knows where this is going, and while there's probably reasoning he's not seeing he's still not sure he agrees. "You're concerned he'll try to rip the magic out of me like in Greenland." He says softly. There could be other things, of course, but that seems like the biggest risk his presence carries. It'd simultaneously feed Illyana's enemy power and distract and upset her. It'd be a good move.

-

Illyana tits a short nod, meeting his eyes without flinching. "We haven't come up with a good way to stop him. And Belasco knows what I'm capable of. He's the one that taught me." Suddenly, the breakfast that smelled so enticing isn't quite so appealing anymore.

-

"This is about you, though, not me." Jericho reminds her. "If he knows you're coming, it'll be a trap, for certain, particularly if he's forcing you into a frontal assault. He may be trying to cut you off from your support. So I think you'll want help." For which, to be sure, Illyana has options that are not demons or Jericho. "Also, he found me well enough the first time around so I couldn't say for certain that staying away would be a good way to… stay away." That's been bothering him. If he was captured then Belasco likely has a way to scry him. The wards here afford them some privacy and Illyana would know if they'd been breached, but anywhere else - and he does go other places - he's likely vulnerable to that.

"It's your realm, so it's your call, but I'd prefer to go with you. Belasco doesn't know what I can do given time. I've not had to use the full range of my abilities since I was taken and if I have time to gear up, I can lay out a lot of hurt very quickly." Even better if they could find a way to prevent Belasco from tapping him but even so, his support might be very helpful while he can offer it.

-

"And when he pulls all of the magic in you out and you drop like a stone, and he's got all that power, how will that help either of us?" Illyana points out, staying firm. "Yes, I should have help, but I think as you are you're just going to be a liability. You know this."

-

Jericho nods, relenting. "I do. I just don't like it." However, there isn't anything he can do about it and he trusts Illyana to know what she's talking about especially when it comes to magic and Limbo. Yet another thing he'll just have to accept, since it's beyond his ability to help.

-

"I know you don't like it. And I'd rather you were at my back." Illyana admits. "But right now… you're just a target." She hasn't managed to come up with a lot of options, given her strongest magics are dark.

-

He nods, with a sigh. This goes against every instinct Jericho has, to let Illyana go at an enemy who knows she's coming and will have prepared for her on his behalf without him to off her his support. But she's made her call and as his girlfriend and Limbo's Queen he has to respect that. More practically if she decides to exclude him there's not really anything he can do about the matter since both of his ways into Limbo are reliant on her. "One thing, perhaps. When you go, cut your link to me. I don't want the bastard backdooring you." Meaning, he presently has an active magical link to her and it might be used against her.

-

Claws appear at the edge of the table, the scrape of them against glass as K'nert pulls himself up onto the table and snarling something over towards Illyana. His movement sort of prances with his agitation and Illyana frowns at the small demon. "Go away." She tells him with narrowed eyes. He doesn't seem like he's trying to make off with her food either. And if he were interested in such, he'd much more likely go for Jericho's than Illyana's.

-

Jericho's eyes narrow a bit, though he doesn't echo's Illyana's commands. Mostly because he doesn't have to. If Illyana really gets mad, she'll open a stepping disk and toss K'nert in it. But this is the second time he's seen the little imp agitated like this. The first time was when Illyana exhausted herself linking to him. That had… been almost touching. And made sense. If demons could love, or like, or feel friendship, the hacker is certain K'nert would be feel that way toward her. But this? He's not quite sure what's going on here.

He leans back in his chair, frowning as he watches the demon prance and hiss.

-

K'nert lays his ears back at Illyana's command, and he backs away with head lowered and ears pinned back. For those familiar with more feral behaviour, K'nert is making it very clear he's not trying to challenge her, but nor does he seem inclined to just give up the topic. He scampers over towards Jericho and jumps over to land on one of the hacker's bare shoulders. Which probably wouldn't be as bad if he had his shirt on. But he doesn't and those claws prick his skin a bit as K'nert says something again in his hissing tongue.

Illyana stands abruptly, her hands hitting the table hard enough to shake the table and make the dishes jump. "No!"

-

Ow. This is like having a cat jump on you claws out. If the claws were longer and sharper. At least he can be fairly certain the imp isn't doing it on purpose. Ordinarily he might suspect but K'nert seems entirely too focused on his 'conversation' with Illyana now. It's still a bit of effort not to flinch and snarl at the demon. The former urge he suppresses so as not to show weakness, the latter because it won't do anything useful right now. The vehemance of Illyana's reaction to whatever K'nert said catches him off guard though. And now he kind of has to ask…

"What did he say?"

-

Illyana's cold eyes cut Jericho's way, mouth set into a thin, hard line. He can see it flicker across her features, that consideration of not telling him. Her jaw works a bit and she finally answers. "He's just arguing that I should make you my Familiar." Obviously K'nert doesn't care if Jericho becomes corrupted. Hell, he'd probably prefer it.

-

Jericho's eyes flash again, though he doesn't say anything for a minute or three. "You had reservations about that." Unlike K'nert, he won't push her decision one way or the other though Illyana knows damn well that if she'd decided to do that, he'd trust that she knew what she was doing and accept it. However, K'nerts interjection does raise a bit of an elephant in the room. Even with Belasco out of the way, unless a solution can be found to Jericho's condition, he's at risk any time magic is at play and as Greenland illustrated it can crop up in the most unexpected of places. A mage wouldn't have to have anything to do with Illyana or Limbo to pick up on Jericho's magically active nature and decide to take that power for himself. And barring some radical change, Jericho would be equally powerless to stop that.

-

K'nert lowers his head close to Jericho and this time it's the imp that licks at his bared skin around the hissing growls if his language, eyes on Illyana the entire time. The room almost seems to drop a few degrees and it's probably a damned good thing that Illyana doesn't have the full range of her magic or else K'nert might have found himself blasted through a wall.

"Get out." Illyana says in a low growl, bearing her teeth at the demon in a snarl. Wisely, K'nert hops from Jericho's shoulder and disappears as he's so good at but Illyana continues to stand there, anger coming off of her like heat waves.

-

Jericho moves over to her, behind her and places his hands on her shoulders, wathcing as K'nert scampers off. Thaaaaat seemed unwise of the imp. "Don't let him upset you, if that's what he was trying to accomplish…" He murmurs gently, wondering exactly what that last exchange was.

-

He can feel the fine tremble beneath his touch, can almost taste her temper. "He's not trying to upset me." She says, the words coming a bit slow as she has to work through her anger to say them. Control. It's one of Illyana's hallmarks. "He knows why I don't want to."

-

Jericho's hands slide down Illyana's arms and flanks to wrap around her waist and he leans in behind her and against her. "You're worried about what it might do to me." He murmurs. What she might do to him. He can't fault her there. Were their situations reversed and it his presence that he thought was dangerous or detrimental, he'd worry a lot too. "You're worried it will alter me…"

-

The laugh Illyana gives is rough. Almost harsh. She reaches back, fingers sliding into his hair and nails scraping his scalp as she grips him tightly against her. "I'm afraid of damning your soul." She says. So much worse than simply altering him.

-

Those eyes gleam a low, soft, steady light. Illyana might be able to see them reflected on the table. "I won't say that you shouldn't worry…" Jericho says quietly. "You'd know better than I what the risks are and what might happen." And she'd know more about matters of the soul. The truth is Jericho has no idea what the state of his soul is, whether it's damned or not already and what that even means.

-

"But I want you to know that there isn't anything I wouldn't do to be near you." He's seen her demonic self revealed and not balked, accepted the effects of her magic upon him up to this point without compliant, and perhaps maddeningly sought her trust and affection while steadfastly offering his own. So… when he says there isn't anything he wouldn't do… that may well actually be true.

-

"I know." Illyana says, the words barely a whisper. She can't even really say that if he were to do this, that he couldn't leave her. Because she doesn't think she'd be able to let him leave now. He made his choice and now he doesn't really get one anymore.

His choice of words make her quiet. Nothing he wouldn't do to be near her. And she's planning to go up against her worst enemy and make him stay behind.

-

Jericho doesn't push. It's simply not in his nature to do so or at least, not as it applies to her. He simply offers. It's driven her a little bit mad before, he's aware but that is what he does, simply standing behind her, arms wrapped around her waist, head leaned in near her ear. He knows she's thinking. He's seen that look in her eyes before, that set to her jaw. Not the 'I hate this schoolwork' look but the 'I've been weighing this for days' look. Whatever choice she makes, he'll trust. But he doesn't say that. She already knows, he's sure.

-

Illyana's eyes close and she turns her head so she can lean her brow against his jaw. Her breath leaves her in a long, soft exhale. "I know." She says again. Her hand rests over his and pats once before moving out of the circle of his arms. Yeah. She has been weighing it for days. It's just come to a head a lot sooner than expected.

-

Jericho gives her a gentle, reassuring squeeze as she moves away and then lets her go. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot to say, but he remains standing anyway, watching her carefully with those slightly luminious amber eyes. His traces shine with a dull, fading red light from the relatively brief contact with her. So many things have changed about him since they first met, big and small. He doesn't regret them though, nor, at least in his mind, have the bad things ever really seemed to come from her.


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